From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession
God requires the righteousness of reason. Because of his commandment, the honorable works that the Decalog commands must necessarily be performed. According to Galatians 3:24: “So that the law was our custodian.” Likewise, “The law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient” (1Tim 1:9). For God wants those who are carnal to be restrained by civil discipline, and to maintain this, he has given laws, letters, doctrine, magistrates, penalties. This righteousness of reason, by its own strength, can work to a certain extent, although it is often overcome by natural weakness and by the devil goading it to obvious crimes. We cheerfully assign this righteousness of reason the praises that are due it (since this corrupt nature has no greater good). Aristotle rightly says, “Neither the evening star nor the morning star is more beautiful than righteousness, and God also honors it with bodily rewards.” Nevertheless, it ought not to be praised with reproach to Christ.
Pulling It Together: The law is a good thing. It teaches us how to interact with God and with each other. The law also provides necessary restraint on the uncivil elements of society so that good order may be maintained. This works—up to a point. We understand that more laws, attorneys, judges, and punishments do not make a better society. Better citizens make a better society. The law keeps us in check until something better comes along. Knowing that we have a system of law in place would never cause us to disparage public education and other programs for the improvement of the citizenry. We would hope education has an effect and the law is not necessary. We would anticipate that some, at least, would become good citizens upon whom the law was never enforced because they saw the good reason of keeping the law.
In Christ Jesus, something far better than a program of education has arrived. Before faith in Christ came, the law instructed us, but we are no longer under the law's tutelage. That kind of righteousness has been fulfilled in Christ, who through faith has made us good citizens of his kingdom.
Prayer: Thank you, Father, for bringing me into the family and kingdom of your Son. Amen.
The Spiritual Realms is a nine-session Bible Study series on Heaven and Hell and places beyond this world. Specifically, the study looks at the many “place names” that are found throughout Scripture, referring to spiritual realms of existence that underlie and comprise the universe God created. This Bible Study series is a challenging one, in that it explores realities of existence beyond what we know and experience everyday.
The study not only addresses matters of life, death, heaven and hell, it steadfastly affirms that Jesus Christ is at the center of all these things. Our ultimate faith and hope rest in Christ’s death and resurrection for our sake. We live in faith by the biblical promise that: “God raised the Lord, and will also raise us up by his power.” (1 Corinthians 6:14)