Vanity

Daily Reform, Day 114

Galatians 2:16 & Ecclesiastes 1:1-11

From the Reformer

With Paul we absolutely deny the possibility of self merit. God never yet gave to any person grace and everlasting life as a reward for merit. The opinions of the papists are the intellectual pipe-dreams of idle pates, that serve no other purpose but to draw men away from the true worship of God. The papacy is founded upon hallucinations.

The true way of salvation is this. First, a person must realize that he is a sinner, the kind of a sinner who is congenitally unable to do any good thing. “Whatsoever is not of faith, is sin.” Those who seek to earn the grace of God by their own efforts are trying to please God with sins. They mock God, and provoke His anger. The first step on the way to salvation is to repent.

—Martin Luther, Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians

Pulling It Together

The best that we have to give to God is faith in him. We cannot and must not have faith in ourselves or our own actions. Have they not failed us at every turn? But he has never failed us.

Even our faithless ponderings fail us. What about this and what about that? What is the answer to how to fix this broken life? I know! No, you do not. Your intellectualizing will end in yet one more scholastic mess.

Then, I shall do a wondrous thing and make my life a marvel! All is vanity. All of it — your thinking, your working — is vain if you think for a moment that any of it will gain you salvation. Worse, it is sin. Vanity is sin. The vain notion that your works will gain your salvation is worse than sin. It is a diabolical notion that your plans are better than God’s way. You cannot “please God with sins.”

Faith in the One who died for you sins is God’s answer and God’s work rolled into one. Repent and trust God.

© Mark E. Ryman, Daily Reform: Devotions with the Reformers

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