From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession
Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law
Though civil works, that is, the outward works of the law, can be done, in a measure, without Christ and without the Holy Spirit, nevertheless it appears from what we have said that those things belonging specifically to the divine law, that is, the affections of the heart towards God that are commanded in the first table, cannot be rendered without the Holy Spirit. But our adversaries are fine theologians. They regard the second table and political works as though they care nothing for the first table, as though it were of no matter, or that they only require outward observances. They in no way consider the law that is eternal, and placed far above the sense and intellect of all creatures: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might” (Deut 6:5).
Pulling It Together: “The greatest of these is love” (1 Cor 13:13). Therefore, we must keep the whole law, the first commandments as well as the latter. We must not only honor our parents, and not lie or steal, we must also love the Lord our God with our whole selves—with all our hearts and with all our souls and with all our might. Yet, when trying to do so in our own strength, it becomes quickly evident that we cannot love God in this way. Eventually, even decent people give up trying to love God, or confuse loving God with works of the second table: not committing adultery, etc. Only those who have already been filled with God’s love keep pressing on (Phil 3:14) in spite of past failings. For the child who truly loves mother and father, who has their own loving character, will try to please them, regardless of previous failures.
People need the character of God in order to love him truly. That divine quality comes in the person of the Holy Spirit. Yet the Holy Spirit is not given until one has faith, believing in Christ and what he has done for us out of his Father’s great love for us (John 3:16). So we see that all does depend upon love—the Father’s love, not ours. When we have faith that the Father has loved us so much that he sent his Son to reconcile us to himself, we are regenerated so that we also try to practice the higher theology of the first table, loving God with our whole selves.
Prayer: I praise you God for the great love with which you have loved me. Amen.
The Ten Commandments is a ten-week unit in the Sola Confirmation Series. It includes one session on each of the Commandments. The Scripture focus in the Ten Commandment series is on Moses and the Exodus Cycle, with Bible Study lessons taken primarily from the Pentateuch.