Captive to Goodness, Daily Reform, Day 19

Galatians 1:1-5 & Psalm 53:1-3

From the Reformer

With the words, “that he might deliver us,” Paul argues that we stand in need of Christ. No other being can possibly deliver us from this present evil world. Do not let the fact disturb you that a great many people enjoy excellent reputations without Christ. Remember what Paul says, that the world with all its wisdom, might, and righteousness is the devil’s own. God alone is able to deliver us from the world.

Let us praise and thank God for His mercy in delivering us from the captivity of Satan, when we were unable to do so by our own strength. Let us confess with Paul that all our work-righteousness is loss and dung.

—Martin Luther, Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians

Pulling It Together

The elderly gentleman was what they called a pillar of the church. He upheld his church in every way: present each time the doors were opened for worship and study, working on the meeting house and grounds, giving, praying, and helping others in need. He had worked hard at being good because being good was the proper thing to be. He had probably been taught as a boy to be good. So it was a shock to his old system to be told one day at Bible class that he was not good. In fact, he became indignant when the teacher insisted the scriptures teach that no one is good.

Logically, were this not so, the good people would not need a deliverer. He would have no need of Christ. But that fine fellow lived in an evil world where the devil twists our decent actions into religion. The man’s indignation showed the religious nature of his charity and devotion. He was not a bad man, sociologically speaking, but he was not a good man either — theologically speaking. He enjoyed a “good reputation” and was somehow defamed to hear that the reason he needed a Savior was because he was not good. He knew he needed a Savior because Jesus was part of his upbringing but he really believed he was a good man too — good all on his own. He was a captive to his goodness. Being good was his religion. Christ was an ornament in his temple.

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