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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions
The Smalcald Articles – part 99

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1 Peter 3:18

From the Confessions: The Smalcald Articles 

Some did not believe they were guilty of such actual sins: sinful thoughts, words, and deeds. Many like myself in monasteries and chapters, wishing to be monks and priests, fought evil thoughts through fasting, night watches, prayers, saying Masses, rough clothing, hard beds, etc. Altogether earnest, we intensely desired to be holy. Yet, the hereditary evil born within us sometimes did in sleep what it naturally does (as Augustine, Jerome, and others confess). Still, each one held some others in such high regard, that according to our teaching, they were regarded as holy, without sin, and full of good works. So, we would share and sell our good works to others, believing them to be more than we needed for heaven. This is undeniably true, for there are seals, letters, and examples available.

Pulling It Together: We cannot give our good works to other sinners. Who would want such filthy rags, in any case? Nor may we sell them; that would be trading in counterfeit goods. Our suffering and other religious works avail us nothing, let alone gain heaven for others. But thanks be to God, that Jesus Christ the righteous has done the suffering for we, the unrighteous. He has accomplished everything necessary for forgiveness, salvation, and eternal life. We must then, have complete faith in him, and no faith in ourselves or others.

Prayer: Thank you, Jesus, for saving me. Amen.

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