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Galatians 4:21-31

 

Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not listen to the law? For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by a slave woman and one by a free woman. But the son of the slave was born according to the flesh, while the son of the free woman was born through promise. Now this may be interpreted allegorically: these women are two covenants. One is from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery; she is Hagar. Now Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia; she corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother. For it is written, "Rejoice, O barren one who does not bear; break forth and cry aloud, you who are not in labor! For the children of the desolate one will be more than those of the one who has a husband." Now you, brothers, like Isaac, are children of promise. But just as at that time he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, so also it is now. But what does the Scripture say? "Cast out the slave woman and her son, for the son of the slave woman shall not inherit with the son of the free woman." So, brothers, we are not children of the slave but of the free woman. (ESV)

"I" Has To Go

Tuesday of Pentecost 15

23 September 2014

You can't think your way to orthodox theology or a faithful confession of it. It remains a divine gift to confess the truth with a true conviction. By trying to think their way into orthodoxy, the wisest people in the world have despised the cross of Christ and its glorious benefits to us poor sinners. The greatest philosophers have mocked the idea that human righteousness is a gift of God to the wicked through the precious wounds of the God-Man, who died for the sins of the world. For the wisest and best the only righteousness is that which is gained by their right action. Our mothers in their simple philosophy taught us this when they said, "Pretty is as pretty does." In other words, true beauty can only be shown by the beautiful act. And while this might be true in the world, it is not true in the sight of God. Another way, an entirely different righteousness, avails in His holy presence. Only the work of the Son of God will be the work that makes us right before Him. Our work will never suffice. Only Christ's will.

 

Christ must be the subject of the sentence that refers to our holiness in God's sight. Once we have made ourselves the subject of the sentence we have made ourselves the source of our own righteousness. "I" must be put to death in favor of the "for me." "It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me" (Gal 2:20). I am the object of Christ's work. He is the subject of my righteousness. In this way, I gain all that is Christ's.

 

Those who seek to be the subject of their own righteousness have the appearance of great holiness and seem to accomplish great things. Unfortunately, they accomplish only their condemnation through what is the worst kind of unbelief: the unbelief that prefers the "I" to the Son of God, who gave Himself for them. The "I" has to go "for me" to live.

 

Martin Luther

 

"Men of every age, not only the unlearned but even the wisest and best, that is, the whole human race with the exception of the children of the free woman (Gal 4:27), do not see or recognize any righteousness, not to say any more excellent righteousness, than that of the law. Under the term 'law' I mean all laws, both human and divine. Therefore if they follow the Law and perform its external works, they think they are righteous. All such men, although they might be most prolific, overflowing with disciples, flourishing with righteousness and the counterfeit works of the law, are slaves, not free men, because they are sons of Hagar, who gives birth into slavery. If they are slaves, they do not share in the inheritance but are cast out of the house. 'The slave does not remain in the house forever' (Jn 8:35). In fact, they have now been thrown out of the kingdom of grace and freedom. 'Whoever does not believe is condemned already' (Jn 3:18). Therefore they remain under the curse of the law, sin, death, and under the power of the devil, the wrath and judgment of God."


Martin Luther, Lectures on Galatians, 4.27
 
Prayer

Dear heavenly Father, those who have a firm grasp on the law appear to be the holy ones in the world. They gather to themselves many disciples, making thousands of children. We look weak and powerless by comparison. Free us from comparing ourselves to such legalists. Send Your Son before our eyes that we might see in Him the true righteousness that alone avails in Your presence. Send Your Spirit that we might plead only righteousness from Him who died for me. Amen.

 

For all those who are traveling, that they might arrive at home safely and experience a joyful homecoming

 

For Kim Cheng, that the Lord might bring her the healing that she needs

 

For lay people, who in many places are hearing sermons devoid of the good news of Jesus Christ, that the hearts of the preachers would be turned from the law to the gospel and God's people would receive the comfort He intends them to have
Art: Crucifixes  Uppsala Cathedral (medieval)

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