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From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession
Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law
Augustine says it well: “All the commandments of God are fulfilled when whatever is not done, is forgiven.” Therefore he requires faith even in good works, in order that we may believe that we please God for Christ's sake, and that even the works are not of themselves worthy and pleasing. And Jerome, speaking against the Pelagians, says: “Then, therefore, we are righteous when we confess that we are sinners, and that our righteousness consists not in our own merit, but in God's mercy.” Therefore, faith ought to be present in this rudimentary fulfillment of the law which is certain that for Christ's sake we have a reconciled God. For mercy cannot be apprehended unless by faith, as has been repeatedly said above. Therefore, when Paul says, “we uphold the law” (Rom 3:31), we ought to understand by this, not only that those regenerated by faith receive the Holy Spirit and have inclinations agreeing with God's law, but it is by far of the greatest importance that we also add this: that we ought to perceive that we are far distant from the perfection of the law.
Pulling It Together
We profess that the law ought to be kept. We also declare that it is kept because Christ has fulfilled it—we did not, nor can we. So we seek to please God by keeping his perfect law (Psa 19:7) even though we keep it imperfectly. However, Christ has kept it most fully and perfectly. When we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us (1 John 1:9) and reconcile us to God. In other words, Christ gives us his righteousness, since we cannot earn it for ourselves. In all this, we see that our righteousness cannot come by good works or keeping the law. Righteousness comes through faith in Christ who has fulfilled the law and accomplished that greatest of works, the work of the cross. We confess therefore, that he is our righteousness.
Prayer: Thank you, Jesus, for forgiving what I could not fulfill and, thereby, making me righteous in your righteousness. Amen.
Learning About Confession teaches the meaning of Confession and Forgiveness according Luther's guidance in the Small Catechism. It is recommended for the Sixth Grade Level. Each week focuses on a specific Bible story that illustrates the theme, with additional references from Scripture and Luther's Small Catechism - Children's Version. With a healthy balance of Law and Gospel, lessons emphasize the connection between repentance and forgiveness, and how the promise of God’s forgiveness changes our lives.