From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession
Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law
In the Confutation, the adversaries have also cited against us Colossians 3:14: “And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.” They infer from this that love justifies because it renders men perfect. We could supply many replies about perfection but will simply give Paul’s meaning. Paul was clearly speaking of love towards one’s neighbor. We must not imagine that Paul would ascribe either justification or perfection to works of the Second Table instead of to those of the First. Even so, if love renders men perfect, there is then no need of Christ as propitiator, for faith apprehends Christ alone as propitiator. This, however, is far distant from the meaning of Paul, who never suffers Christ to be excluded as propitiator.
Pulling It Together: Paul consistently teaches that we are accepted on account of Christ and not on account of our love, or our works, or because we keep the law. For no one perfectly fulfills the law. Since he writes and teaches that there is no perfection in this life through our works, it must not be thought that Paul is speaking here of personal perfection. Because we cannot live up to the demands of the law, God sent his Son as satisfaction. Jesus, as both God and man, fulfilled the law for everyone. So, yes, we are instructed to love our neighbors, as the second great commandment teaches us (Mark 12:31). Yet we should never assume that love of neighbor, which we fulfill imperfectly, satisfies God’s law. Only Jesus has done this, so we must put our faith in him alone.
Prayer: Help me depend upon your righteousness, Lord, while your Spirit empowers me to love my neighbor. Amen.
Seasons of the Church Year introduces students to the seasons or cycles of the liturgical year as the Church reflects upon the story of Christ and our life of faith in this world. It was written for a 3rd-4th grade level, but is flexible enough to be used for most elementary-aged students.