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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions
Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope – part 36

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1 Corinthians 15:50–58

From the Confessions: Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope 

Additionally, they have devised satisfactions by which they have also concealed the benefit of Christ.

Pulling It Together

What can we poor sinners do in the face of the malevolent leer of sin and death? The more we aim at purer piety, stricter law-keeping, faithful penance, and more and greater good works, the more assured we become that we can do nothing against our corruption. Unless we are self-deceived, we sense the foul breath of sin and death in each word, the horror of it in our thoughts, the crippling posture of our gaits in each step we take toward the grave. We are dying; indeed, we are dead. We are so utterly dead in our sins that a higher morality and finer religion will not bring us back to life—for we were never alive. We were born with this fatal disease. No priest or pastor can cure us. Better upbringing will not suffice, nor will harder work. We can do nothing to satisfy the hunger of death, and the killing corruption of sin.

Nevertheless, there is victory through faith in God. He alone has made the one satisfaction that removes the grip of death. He simply gives us this ultimate triumph over sin, death, and the judgment of the law. He is just in his doing so, because of Christ’s satisfaction of sin, death, and law. Moreover, we are justified through faith in Christ’s settlement of our sin—faith in him alone, not in our piety and good deeds. Because of this, we grin in the face of sin and death; we smile at the accusations of the law. Christ alone provides us this benefit, this assurance that not all is as it seems. In a moment, all will change. Thanks be to God.

Prayer: Give me such faith, Lord God, that I fear, love, and trust you alone. Amen.

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