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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions
Of New Obedience


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From the Word: 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are obvious, being sexual immorality, impurity, wantonness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hostilities, strife, jealousy, fits of fury, selfishness, discord, factions, 21 envyings, drunkenness, intemperance, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you previously, that they who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 And those who are of Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its inclinations and cravings.

25 If we live by the Spirit, let us likewise walk with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become proud, provoking one another, envying one another. (Galatians 5:18–25)

From the Confessions: The Chief Articles of Faith in the Augsburg Confession

Concerning New Obedience

Also, they teach that this faith is bound to bring forth good fruits, and that it is necessary to do good works commanded by God, because of God's will, but that we should not rely on those works to merit justification before God. For remission of sins and justification is apprehended by faith, as also the voice of Christ attests: "When ye shall have done all these things, say: We are unprofitable servants" (Luke 17:10). The same is also taught by the Fathers. For Ambrose says: It is ordained of God that he who believes in Christ is saved, freely receiving the remission of sins, without works, by faith alone.

Pulling It Together: The Augsburg Confession clearly states that works are excluded from justification. Nothing is needed for our justification before God except the work of his Son Jesus Christ on the cross (Gal 2:16; Eph 2:8–9; Rom 3:28; 4:5). Nevertheless, the Lutherans also wished it to be known that justification by faith did not negate the command of God for his people to do good works. However, these acts of charity and obedience are a result of faith—not a requirement for justification. Those who have faith must be obedient to God and therefore they will do good works. They can do no other, for real faith is a living faith, full of the fruit of the Spirit. Those who are enlivened by faith, live by the Spirit and so, they will also keep in step with the Spirit who is the author of all good.

Prayer: O God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, open my heart and my hands, that I may willingly do good and bring you glory. Amen. 

The Cross and the Crown is an eight-session study in Lutheran Basics, using the word "sola" to get the big picture right: that salvation is all God's doing.

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