From the Confessions: The Smalcald Articles
7. That it is not found in Scripture that the Holy Spirit and his grace are necessary for the doing of a good work.
Pulling It Together: We may do some good on our own. For example, our own free will may be at work in civil matters. We may determine whether or not we will pay our taxes or stop when the light is red or if we will provide some service to our country. These are not spiritual matters; they have nothing to do with rebirth. God is necessary for our doing anything that is called good when it goes beyond mere civil works.
We can do no good apart from God. This is clear enough in Scripture. All we do that is good, flows from the Spirit of God who lives within us (Rom 8:9). We cannot love the Father or keep the other commandments without Christ’s help. What is more, we would not claim to be able to, as the notion that one can do these truly good works on his own, points to the deeper belief that doing so earns one some favor with God. The person who believes God is behind his good works would not then claim responsibility and recognition for those works. That would be tantamount to saying, You did this but I deserve the credit. Anyone who claims that she is able to do good works is really only wanting favor from God (and neighbor) for doing them. Luther was teaching us what Scripture clearly says, along with the underlying precept, that God is deserving of all our praise and honor.
Prayer: I want to live in and through you, Lord. Amen.
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