Daily Reform, Day 147
Galatians 2:18 & 1 Peter 2:9-10
From the Reformer
These hypocrites do not know the first thing about grace, the Gospel, or Christ. They retain the appearance and the name of the Gospel and of Christ for a decoy only. In their confessional writings faith or the merit of Christ are never mentioned. In their writings they play up the merits of man, as can readily be seen from the following form of absolution used among the monks.
True, the merit of Christ is mentioned in this formula of absolution. But if you look closer you will notice that Christ’s merit is belittled, while monkish merits are aggrandized. They confess Christ with their lips, and at the same time deny His power to save. I myself was at one time entangled in this error. I thought Christ was a judge and had to be pacified by a strict adherence to the rules of my order. But now I give thanks unto God, the Father of all mercies, who has called me out of darkness into the light of His glorious Gospel, and has granted unto me the saving knowledge of Christ Jesus, my Lord.
—Martin Luther, Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians
Pulling It Together
In action movies, a classic ploy of a cornered person in a dark warehouse is to throw something far from himself that will make a noise. The point is to make the one chasing him think that he is in another place and chase him where he is not. This gives the one chased an opportunity for escape.
Christians do not need distracting works any more than they need to hide in the darkness or escape from God. He is not chasing us; he is calling us to himself. Turn from your sin; come into the light; you are forgiven. If you must throw anything, throw away your fear of God. You do not need to hide from or escape from God. What you need is to come into the light of God’s presence and be forgiven. His mercy requires neither virtuous deed nor anything else from you.
There is but one work of satisfaction required for forgiveness of sin: the work of Christ on the cross. If you add anything else to his work, it becomes your works that you claim will absolve your sin.
© Mark E. Ryman, Daily Reform: Devotions with the Reformers