From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession
Concerning Free Will
Therefore, it is helpful to differentiate between civil righteousness, assigned to the free will, and spiritual righteousness, attributed to the governing of the Holy Spirit in the regenerate. This retains outward discipline, because all people ought to know that God requires this civil righteousness, and that, in some measure, we can achieve it. Yet a distinction is shown between human and spiritual righteousness, between philosophical teaching and the teaching of the Holy Spirit. Further, it can be understood that there is a need of the Holy Spirit.
Pulling It Together: Everyone is able to abide by the laws of the land, else the Scripture would not command us to do so. Furthermore, one may choose to obey the laws of the land or not. Because people keep the laws, we say that they are law abiding folks, but another way of putting it would be to refer to these upstanding citizens as civilly righteous. This brand of righteousness can be obtained by human will, without the aid of Holy Spirit.
Spiritual righteousness, however, requires the Spirit’s assistance. Further, it cannot be apprehended by those who have not been born again. For whereas civil righteousness may been obtained by the old, natural person, spiritual righteousness requires a new creation, a heart and mind that has been regenerated by the Spirit of God. Human nature is suited to civil righteousness but God’s Spirit is necessary for spiritual righteousness.
Prayer: Mold me, Lord, according to your will. Amen.
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