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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions
Concerning Monastic Vows – part 35

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1 John 5:1–5

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Monastic Vows 

Thirdly, chastity is promised in monastic vows. We have said above, however, concerning the marriage of priests, that the law of nature that is at work in people cannot be removed by vows or legislation. Since the gift of continence is not given to everyone, many are unsuccessfully continent because of weakness. Neither, indeed, can any vows or laws abolish the command of the Holy Spirit: “But because of the temptation to immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband” (1 Cor 7:2). Therefore, this vow is not lawful for the weak who despoil themselves because they do not have the gift of continence.

Enough has been said about this entire topic. It is so strange, that with all the dangers and scandals occurring before them, that our opponents still defend their traditions, contrary to the unmistakable command of God. They are even unaffected by the voice of Christ scolding the Pharisees for establishing traditions contrary to God’s command (Matt 15:3, 23:13f).

Pulling It Together: Everyone who believes in Christ overcomes the world through faith. There is no need to leave the world in order to do so. There is no need for us to go to additional lengths in order to be forgiven. God’s grace assures us of forgiveness through faith, for Christ’s sake. There is no demand from God to add anything to this faith in order for his promise of salvation to be realized. Should we go further? Ought we add to our faith: virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection, and love (2 Pet 1:5–7)? Certainly, but because everyone who has received faith (1 Pet 1:1) is commanded to add these qualities to the new “divine nature” (1 Pet 1:4) shared by those of faith. Those who believe are divinely reborn in Christ through the faith given to them. We are supplementing that faith given by the grace of God, not earning his grace.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord Jesus Christ, for giving me faith of equal standing with the apostles, not because of my righteousness but because of his. Amen.

In Harmony with the Word is an eight-session Bible Study focusing on Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, from Matthew 5-7. It is written at an introductory level, to be led by a lay leader or pastor in a small-group question and discussion format. The study would serve as an excellent resource for monthly women's group meetings, or in an informal small-group setting.

Leader's Guide

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