Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law, part 72
Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions
Scripture Text: Matthew 19:16-22
From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession
Where Jesus said, “If you would enter life, keep the commandments” (Matthew 19:17), we must understand that one cannot keep the commandments or please God without Christ. The first commandment in the Decalogue itself states, “showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments” (Exodus 20:6), adding the most liberal promise of the law. But this law is not observed without Christ. For it always accuses the conscience which does not satisfy the law, and therefore, flies in terror from the judgment and punishment of the law. “For the law brings wrath” (Romans 4:15). People observe the law however, when they hear that God is reconciled to us for Christ's sake even though they cannot satisfy the law. When faith apprehends Christ as mediator, the heart discovers peace and begins to love God and observe the law. It knows that because of Christ as mediator, it is now pleasing to God, even though the rudimentary fulfilling of the law is far from perfect and very impure.
Pulling It Together: Our religious, old man wants to know what good deed he still lacks so that he may earn eternal life, as he will always sense he lacks some fine deed. For all of our religious pluses, we know that we are always deficient.
Jesus knew that the rich man had failed to keep the first commandment, let alone the remaining nine, so he told the rich man to sell all of his possessions and give the money to the poor. Because he loved his wealth more than God, the rich man turned away from Jesus.
Unless we turn to Jesus and follow him, the law will not be fulfilled no matter how religious we think we are. As long as we think there is something we must do, perfection, justification, and peace will seem just out of reach. We must stop looking in our religiouis mirrors, and instead, turn around and see Jesus, the fulfillment of the law (Romans 10:4).
Prayer: Help me to turn away from myself, Lord, and follow you. Amen
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