The Law

[23] Luther’s proof, Thesis 23:

 

The law brings the wrath of God, kills, reviles, accuses, judges, and condemns everything that is not in Christ [Rom. 4:15].  

Thus Gal. 3[:13] states, “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law;” and: “For all who rely on works of the law are under the curse” [Gal. 3:10]; and Rom. 4[:15]: “For the law brings wrath;” and Rom. 7[:10]: “The very commandment which promised life proved to be the death of me;” Rom. 2[:12]: “All who have sinned without the law will also perish without law.” Therefore he who boasts that he is wise and learned in the law boasts in his confusion, his damnation, the wrath of God, in death. As Rom. 2[:23] puts it: “You who boast in the law.”

 

The law does not work the love of God — it works His wrath; it does not give life — it kills; it does not bless — it reviles; it does not comfort — it accuses; it does not pardon — it judges; it does not save — it condemns. In our active efforts to strive to righteousness through our own works, we stray, ironically, farther from our goal. Only in passive rest in Christ, through His grace, can we achieve it.

 

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How then, are we to love the Law?

 

 

 

From The Heidelberg Disputation

[26] Luther’s proof, Thesis 26:

The law says, “Do this,” and it is never done. Grace says, “believe in this,” and everything is already done.

The first part is clear from what has been stated by the Apostle and his interpreter, St. Augustine, in many places. And it has been stated often enough above that the law works wrath and keeps all men under the curse. The second part is clear from the same sources, for faith justifies. “And the law (says St. Augustine) commands what faith obtains.” For through faith Christ is in us, indeed, one with us. Christ is just and has fulfilled all the commands of God, wherefore we also fulfill everything through him since he was made ours through faith.

The law cannot bring into being that which it commands. Paul wrote, “By the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.” (Rom. 3:20) And: “For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” (Rom. 8:3-4) And: “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.” (Rom. 10:4) Paradoxically, what the law requires is freedom from the law.

Christ has fulfilled all things and, through faith, we are at one with Him. “Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through Him forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and through Him everyone who believes is freed from all things, from which you could not be freed through the Law of Moses.” (Acts 13:38-39) Paul wrote, “A man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified.” (Gal. 2:16)

 

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Is there any wiggle room here, for what ‘we do’?

Should there be, when it comes to righteousness?