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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions
The Large Catechism – part 50

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From the Word: For through the grace given me, I say to everyone among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, each according to the measure of faith that God has apportioned. (Romans 12:3)

From the Confessions: The Large Catechism, The Ten Commandments

The First Commandment

You shall have no other gods before me.

Besides this, there is another false worship, an extreme idolatry, practiced up to the present time, and still prevalent in the world. All religious orders are founded upon it. The conscience that seeks help, consolation, and salvation because of its own works, presumes to wrest heaven from God. It keeps count of how many donations it has made, how often it has fasted, celebrated Mass, etc. It depends upon such things, and boasts about them, as though unwilling to receive anything from God as a gift. Instead, this conscience wants to earn or merit these things through more and more works, as though God must serve us, as though he were our debtor, and we his liege lords. What is this but reducing God to an idol, indeed, an apple-god, and elevating ourselves as God? This reasoning is a bit subtle, and is not for young pupils.

Pulling It Together: One cannot think of himself any more highly than to think he is fit to do what only God can do. God helps us in our human weakness, comforts us in our consciences, and saves us, not only from our sins, but also to eternal life. God does all this because people cannot. When we imagine we must help, comfort, and save ourselves, what have we done but take the place of God? Sober judgment brings us to the realization that we must trust God for all these things. In doing so, we trust in him above all others, especially ourselves.

Prayer: Give me clearheaded judgment about myself, Lord. Amen.

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Where Two or Three Are Gathered is a guide for what Luther referred to as "mutual conversation and consolation" among believers. These are the times we come together one to one, as people of faith, to talk about our lives and struggles, and strengthen one another in prayer with the promise of God's grace and mercy. This devotional conversation guide may be used for a number of purposes and applications where people are looking for some help in structuring conversations on the practical and spiritual dimensions of Christian discipleship.


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