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1 Corinthians 8:1-13


Now concerning food offered to idols: we know that "all of us possess knowledge." This "knowledge" puffs up, but love builds up. If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know. But if anyone loves God, he is known by God.


Therefore, as to the eating of food offered to idols, we know that "an idol has no real existence," and that "there is no God but one." For although there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth - as indeed there are many "gods" and many "lords" - yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.


However, not all possess this knowledge. But some, through former association with idols, eat food as really offered to an idol, and their conscience, being weak, is defiled. Food will not commend us to God. We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do.


But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol's temple, will he not be encouraged,if his conscience is weak, to eat food offered to idols? And so by your knowledge this weak person is destroyed, the brother for whom Christ died. Thus, sinning against your brothers and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.





Pure Religion

Monday of Pentecost 10

18 August 2014

Christianity is an irreligious religion, because Christianity is not about religious observances or other human activities, but the giftedness through which God gives Himself to sinful humans and redeems them from sin and death. A religion that is defined by human activity is not a true religion.  Human self-centeredness gives birth to this religious fiction. Humans are always dreaming they can do something to propitiate God's wrath: "Hey God, see what I have done for you! Aren't you happy with me now?" Uh, not really. The god who is satisfied by our paltry efforts is not a god at all, but a fiction. A religious fiction has only a fictional god. A false belief gives rise to a false god, the idol of our pious imagination. Such a false piety must be repented to death, so that God can be God for us.


True piety gives up confidence in human efforts, works, and observances. True piety trusts in God's own Son, who was given up to death for us sinners. Here is the work which abides forever, the perfect work of the eternal Son of the Father, who was crucified to give us life and peace. What other piety, what other work, observance, or religious hoop jumping would even begin to compare to the work of God's Son?


What blind madness we humans exhibit trying to pawn off on God our own works as a substitute for the work of the perfect Substitute for sinners! Those who want to help God out with their self-generated works have made themselves their own wretched idol and called into question the ability of God's Son to save those He has promised to save. If we can create a do-it-yourself religion, then Christ died for nothing.


Christ did not die for nothing. He died for the sins of the world (Jn 1:29). If so, He has taken care of every sin of every person who has ever lived, or ever will live. What sin could He be said not to have take away? Most tragically, we presume that the Lord Jesus could not have taken away the particular sins that plague, haunt us, and arises out of our past. This is a purely satanic delusion. The Word of the Lord is clear. He has forgiven our sins. That is what it means to be God. Nothing you do can change His divine gifts. Anything else would be pure religion, but not the faith of Christ.


Martin Luther


"Nowhere has God promised that He wishes to justify and save men on account of religious orders, observances, and forms of worship that have been thought up and instituted by men. In fact, as all Scripture attests, nothing is more abominable to God than such self-chosen works and forms of worship; He even overthrows kingdoms and empires on account of such things. Therefore all those who trust in their own powers and righteousness are serving a god who by nature is no god but is a god only in their opinion. For He who is true God by nature speaks this way: "I am not pleased with any righteousness, wisdom, or religious observance except the one by which the Father is glorified through the Son. Whoever takes hold of this Son and of Me or of My promise in Him through faith, to him I am God, to him I am Father; him I accept, I justify, and I save. All the rest remain under wrath, because they worship him who by nature is no god."  


Martin Luther
Lectures on Galatians, 4.8-9

Lord Christ, You have freed me from religious observances as a source of righteousness before Your Father. Keep me in Your faith that I might repose in the benefits of Your work for me. Amen.


For the pastors of The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, that the Lord would support the proclamation of the truth

For Madison Havers, who was baptized into Christ yesterday, the Lord would keep her in the most holy faith


For clement weather, that the fruit of earth would feed the people of the world

Art: Dürer, Albrecht  The Adoration of the Trinity (1515) 

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