From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession
Concerning Free Will
But it is false to say that one does not sin who performs the works of the commandments without grace. They further add that such works also merit de congruo the forgiveness of sins and justification. For without the Holy Spirit human hearts do not fear or trust God; nor do they believe that they are heard, forgiven, helped, and saved by God. Therefore they are godless, for a bad tree cannot bear good fruit (Matt 7:18). “And without faith it is impossible to please him” (Heb 11:6).
Pulling It Together: The reader is reminded that de congruo, or congruity, refers generally to the false doctrine that imagines one’s reason can properly orient itself toward God, or be inclined of itself to love God, and that by one’s natural abilities one can do good, please God, and thereby earn his favor. This is Pelagianism, no matter how you slice it, and further, it leads the uber-religious to despair, or worse, leads the smug who imagine that they do not sin, or care not if they do, fairly straight to hell.
But when one comes to the understanding that he is a sinner, through and through, always has been, and always will be, that person may then have the hope of finally pleasing God. For nothing pleases God more than a person who knows he is a sinner, confesses it to God, and relies on his mercy. This is why the Father sent his Son into the world: to save sinners (John 3:17; 1 Tim 1:15).
Prayer: Thank you, Father, for sparing sinners by not sparing your only Son. Amen.
May you believe and be saved, through Jesus Christ the Lord. Amen.
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