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From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession
Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law
From this foundation it is easy to determine why we ascribe justification to faith, not to love, though love follows faith because love is the keeping of the law. But Paul teaches that we are justified not by the law, but by the promise which is only received by faith. For we cannot come to God without Christ as mediator, nor do we receive forgiveness of sins because of our love, but because of Christ.
The law constantly accuses us, and therefore, always shows us an angry God. We are not able to love God while he is angry. Therefore, we must first apprehend the promise by faith—that for Christ's sake the Father is reconciled and forgives. Afterward, we begin to observe the law.
Pulling It Together: Jesus warned keepers of the law that the wrath of God was coming (Matt 3:7). The Pharisees already did not like Jesus, and this did not make them any happier. They wanted to be admired by men and favored by God because they played by a strict adherence to the rules. Yet, for all of their legalism, their spirits were not right. This can only occur when one’s basic nature has been changed through rebirth (Matt 3:3). One is only born again through belief in the promise of God, when one has faith in Christ instead of faith in one’s display of religion. Ironically, it is faith that exonerates—not law keeping. Because Christ has paid the penalty of the law in full, it remains for us to believe what he has accomplished. There is nothing for us to do but trust in the one who has stepped between us and the law, Christ our mediator. We cannot work around the law but we may have faith in the Son of God who fulfilled the law’s requirements for us.
Prayer: Thank you, Jesus, for taking away the law’s condemnation and for setting me free from sin and death. Amen.
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