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From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession
Concerning Monastic Vows
When Paul denies that people merit the forgiveness of sins through the Law of Moses, he withdraws praise from human traditions even more, providing clear examples (Col 2:16). If the divinely revealed Law of Moses did not merit the forgiveness of sins, how much less do these silly observances earn the remission of sins, disinclined as they are to the pattern of public life?
Pulling It Together
If our religion is one that earns forgiveness of sin and eternal life through religious devotion, services, and other good works, then we slander Christ, just as the religious authorities in Jerusalem spurned Christ himself (Heb 13:12). If we imagine it is our virtue that earns divine reward, then we miss the point of what Christ has accomplished. We are left with food and drink, special days and ceremonies. In other words, we are left with a religion that describes reality but is itself not real. It is a shadow world where people live in the dream that they are accomplishing something magnificent while all along, they have not been realizing it at all. Life has been a sham, and not only an imitation but a mockery. Any worship that puts the works of human beings in place of the work of Christ jeers at God—even if its intentions are otherwise. Christ alone is the worth of our forgiveness. Ours is only to keep faith in God.
Prayer: O Substance and Virtue of God, thank you for giving your body for the sins of the world. Amen.
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