From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession
Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law
Here the adversaries urge against us: “Keep the commandments” (Matt 19:17), and likewise, “The doers of the law who will be justified” (Rom 2:13), and many other similar things concerning the law and works. Before we reply to this, we must first declare what we believe concerning love and the fulfilling of the law.
It is written in the prophet, “I will put my law within them, and I will write it upon their hearts” (Jer 31:33). Paul says, “Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law” (Rom 3:31). Christ says, “If you would enter life, keep the commandments” (Matt 19:17). Likewise, “If I...have not love, I gain nothing” (1Cor 13:3). These and similar statements bear witness that the law ought to be begun in us, and be kept by us more and more. Now we do not speak of ceremonies, but of that law which commands the movements of the heart, namely, the Decalogue. Because faith brings the Holy Spirit and produces new life in hearts, it is necessary that it should produce spiritual movements in hearts. The prophet shows what these movements are when he says, “I will put my law within them, and I will write it upon their hearts” (Jer 31:33). Therefore, when we have been justified by faith and regenerated, we begin to fear and love God, to pray to him, to expect aid from him, to give thanks and praise him, and to obey him in afflictions. We begin also to love our neighbors, because our hearts have spiritual and holy movements.
Pulling It Together
Yes! We ought to keep the commandments. Our hearts urge us to do so, as do the Scriptures. The law is written upon our hearts and should be lived out. As Christians, we ought to be doing a much better job of keeping the law than we were previously able, particularly the spirit of the law, such as loving God and neighbor above all things. But this does not mean that we are to keep the old ceremonial law or any new versions of it, in order that we might be justified with God. Instead, because we have been justified by God’s grace through faith, the Spirit of Christ has given us new hearts, minds, and spirits so that we both desire to keep the law and are actually practicing it more and more in the Spirit.
Prayer: Thank you, Holy Spirit, for moving my heart to love. Amen.
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Many Gifts, One Lord considers grace in relation to the gifts of the Holy Spirit in order to show that the grace of God is free to flow with all those gifts without causing division and disharmony in the body of Christ. It is interesting that we really never seem to tire of gifts. Sad to say many go through life not even aware that they have specific gifts, which could not only be a blessing to themselves but to others.