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Galatians 3:19-22


Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made, and it was put in place through angels by an intermediary. Now an intermediary implies more than one, but God is one.
 
Is the law then contrary to the promises of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law. But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. (ESV)
Christianity Not Religion
Tuesday in Lent 3
1 March 2016
Good works masquerading as righteousness is the enemy of justification before God. All religion is about my generating my own righteousness before God. But Christianity is not mere "religion." It is the work of God in Christ to save the world through Christ's becoming sin for us (2Co 5:19). In Him we become the righteousness of God, not our own righteousness.
 
Religion has its goal to make men better. Christianity has as its goal to give them God's righteousness through faith. Anything that offers itself as a substitute for the righteousness of Christ is by definition an enemy of Christ and Christianity. This includes the law, if the law is understood as bringing righteousness before God. What then is the purpose of the law of God, which is good? It points out sin. No better purpose can it have.

 

Martin Luther

"In Gal 3:19 Paul is arguing against those vicious hypocrites who say: 'Why, then, the law?' They find altogether intolerable the statement of Paul: 'The law was added because of transgressions.' For they suppose that the function of the law is to justify. And that is the general opinion of human reason in all the sophists and in the whole world about religion and about righteousness that it is achieved by the works of the law. Reason will not permit this extremely dangerous opinion to be taken away from it by any means at all, because it does not understand the righteousness of faith. Hence the papists babble, not so much foolishly as wickedly: 'The church has the law of God; it has the decrees of the councils and the writings of the holy fathers. If it lives according to these, it is holy.' No one will persuade them that by their self-chosen works and their religion they are only provoking the wrath of God, not placating it. No self-righteous people believe this, but they suppose the very opposite.
 
"Therefore the presumption of righteousness is the dregs of all the evils and the sin of all the sins of the world. For all other sins and vices can be corrected, or at least prohibited by the punishment of the magistrate. But this sin, each man's personal presumption of his own righteousness, peddles itself as the height of religion and sanctity, because it is impossible for the nonspiritual man to judge rightly about this issue. Therefore this disease is the highest and greatest empire of the devil in the whole universe, truly the head of the serpent (Gn 3:15) and the snare by which the devil captures all men and holds them captive (1Ti 3:7). For by nature all men think that the law justifies. To the objection, 'Why, then, the law, if it does not justify?' Paul therefore replies as follows: 'Not because of justification but because of transgressions it was added.'"

Martin Luther, Lectures on Galatians, 3.19
 
Prayer
O Lord, You send Your law to destroy "my own" righteousness. Help me listen to the death-dealing word of the law, that I might have hope only in Your righteousness which is mine as a gift from You by faith. Amen.
 
For all those who will receive Christ's body and blood in divine services, that they might receive this supper in true faith for the forgiveness of sins
 
For all those who suffer persecution at the hands of liberal Western church organizations that have given up the true faith, that those who still have the biblical faith might still confess it in the world
 
For the safety of Pastor Charles Wokoma, who is teaching in Nigeria, that God would guard him in his labors

Art: GRÜNEWALD, Matthias Isenheim Altarpiece (1515)

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