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Concerning Human Traditions in the Church – part 30
Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions

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Proverbs 3:11–12

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Human Traditions in the Church 

As to the mortification of the flesh and discipline of the body, we teach just as the Confession states, that a true and not a feigned mortification occurs through the cross and afflictions by which God disciplines us. In these we must obey God’s will, as Paul says, “Present your bodies as a living sacrifice” (Rom 12:1). These are the spiritual exercises of fear and faith. But in addition to the mortification that occurs through the cross, there is also a voluntary kind of exercise necessary. Christ speaks of this saying, “But take heed to yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation” (Luke 21:34). Paul also says, “I pommel my body and subdue it” (1 Cor 9:27).

These disciplines are not to be undertaken because they are services that justify, but in order to curb the flesh. Otherwise, satisfaction may overpower us, rendering us secure and indifferent. The result of this is people who indulge and obey the inclinations of the flesh. As it has the perpetual command of God, our diligence in this matter should be constant. The directive of certain foods and times does nothing to curb the flesh. These fasts are more luxurious and sumptuous than other feasts; not even the adversaries observe the prescriptions given in the canons.

Pulling It Together: It serves us well to discipline these human wills, bringing them in line with the will of God. This the very thing we ask so often, praying, “Thy will be done.” Our first resolve ought to be that his will be done in our own lives. Self-discipline will, to a large extent, accomplish this concern. This has the added benefit of not having to endure the crosses and troubles that God will inflict upon us if our earthly desires are not very heavenly. Be assured that, if God loves you (and he certainly does), he will do what is necessary to answer your prayer, and accomplish his will in your life. Though we ought to do all we can to discipline ourselves, we should not despise our Father’s discipline, since it is for our own good. Nor should we expect that our self-disciplines result in forgiveness, justification, or a reconciled God.

Prayer: Thy will be done, Lord, in my life as it is in heaven. Amen.

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