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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions
Concerning the Power of Bishops, Part 12


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1 Corinthians 10:23–30

From the Confessions: The Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Power of Bishops

The Apostles taught that one should abstain from blood (Acts 15:20) but who observes that tradition now? They who do not keep that teaching, do not sin. Not even the Apostles wished to burden consciences with such bondage, only forbidding it for a time, to avoid offense. For in this decree, as always, we must consider the aim of the Gospel.

Scarcely any Canons are kept with exactness, and many go out of use each day even among those who are the most zealous advocates of traditions. Consciences cannot be helped unless this moderation is observed: that we may keep Church rules without considering them necessary, and even if these traditions are disregarded, no harm is done to consciences.

Pulling It Together: Legalism demands that we keep as law even those things that were never intended to be law. Ancient customary matters of hair, dress, jewelry, food, drink, and other minutia become the focus for some people. “Do this! Don't do that!” preoccupies their attentions and energies. This is not the goal of the gospel. Jesus nor the apostles ever intended for a new set of laws to replace the Mosaic law. Though we may keep some rule so that the conscience of another is not injured, our own conscience should be free from offense. Christ has set us free from the keeping of endless rules and regulations (Gal 5:1–12). Now we are freed to turn our attention to God, waiting with hope and giving thanks for all things.

Prayer: Holy God, I give you thanks for all of the good things you have provided for me. Amen. 

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