From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession
Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law
Therefore, although the fulfilling of the law merits a reward because rewards properly pertain to the law, we ought to be mindful of the gospel, which freely offers justification for Christ’s sake. We neither keep the law, nor can keep it, until we have been reconciled to God, justified, and reborn. Keeping the law will not please God, unless we are first accepted on account of faith. Because people are accepted because of faith, the initial fulfilling of the law pleases God and has a reward in this life and after this life. Many other remarks concerning the term “reward” might be made here, that are derived from the nature of the law. Because they are so extensive, it must be explained in another connection.
Pulling It Together: We must remain aware of a dangerous temptation as we try to keep the law. As we observe the law, we can be enticed to think too highly of ourselves. If we see ourselves as living an upright life, we may forget about Christ’s benefits. Instead of trusting in Christ’s righteousness as our own, we might begin to trust our own righteousness. Of course, this is not righteousness (Isa 64:6); it is only doing what God expects of his people. Yet, keeping the law does not please God unless done in faith. Observing the law with faith in Christ has an added benefit, since it keeps our minds on Christ and his righteousness, instead of being misled into thoughts about being rewarded for religious and moral lives. The law will never save us, but Christ, who is the end of the law of righteousness, becomes the righteousness of all who believe.
Prayer: O God, I trust in your righteousness, through Jesus Christ the Lord. Amen.
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