But when some keep coming with the law and arguing: Now my dear, who knows whether God will consider you to be good? This is the dismal devil himself, who is always pointing us to personal righteousness, how good I am and how bad I am; for his whole skill consists in using this image of our goodness to snatch from our eyes the image of the Man who died and rose again. … But by all means take care not to let anybody persuade you of this on your deathbed; for then the devil is not far away; he can throw in your face a little sin which reduces all such fine virtues to nothing, so that finally you come to such a pass that you say: Devil, rage as much as you please, I do not boast of my good works and virtues before our Lord God at all, nor shall I despair on account of my sins, but I comfort myself with the fact that Jesus Christ died and rose again, as the text here says.
Lo, when I believe this with my whole heart, then I have the greatest treasure, namely, the death of Christ and the power which it has wrought, and I am more concerned with that than with what I have done. Therefore, devil, begone with both my righteousness and my sin.
If I have committed some sin, go eat the dung; it’s yours. I’m not worrying about it, for Jesus Christ died. St. Paul bids me comfort myself with this, that I may learn to defend myself from the devil and say: Even though I have sinned, it doesn’t matter; I will not argue with you about what evil or good I have done. … This is not the time for arguing, but for comforting myself with the words that Jesus Christ died and rose for me. Thus I am sure that God will bring me, along with other Christians, with Christ to his right hand and carry me through death and hell. (Luther’s Works, v.51 p.241-242)
Art. XV Das kirche ordnungë die keine beschwerung d’ gewissen haben als mittel ding zubehalten.
“Church ordinances are not to weigh down the conscience by retaining or keeping middle things.”
1st Cor. 14, v. 40 ; Let all things be done decently and in order.
1st Cor. 7, v. 35 ; And this I say for your own profit, not that I may put a leash on you, but for what is proper, and that you may serve the Lord without distraction.
[All of the pictures for this year’s posts are from an etching entitled “Augsburg Confession” by Wenceslaus Hollar (1607-1677) and found in the Royal Collection Trust.]