The Trap

Daily Reform, Day 207

Galatians 2:21 & Hosea 8:4-6

From the Reformer

It should make any person afraid to hear Paul say that those who seek to be justified by the Law, not only deny Christ, but also crucify Him anew. If those who seek to be justified by the Law and its works are crucifiers of Christ, what are they, I like to know, who seek salvation by the filthy rags of their own work-righteousness?

Can there be anything more horrible than the papacy, an alliance of people who crucify Christ in themselves, in the Church, and in the hearts of the believers?

Of all the diseased and vicious doctrines of the papacy the worst is this: “If you want to serve God you must earn your own remission of sins and everlasting life, and in addition help others to obtain salvation by giving them the benefit of your extra work-holiness.” Monks, friars, and all the rest of them brag that besides the ordinary requirements common to all Christians, they do the works of supererogation, i.e., the performance of more than is required. This is certainly a fiendish illusion.

No wonder Paul employs such sharp language in his effort to recall the Galatians from the doctrine of the false apostles. He says to them: “Don’t you realize what you have done? You have crucified Christ anew because you seek salvation by the Law.”

—Martin Luther, Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians

Pulling It Together

We all step into the trap sometimes. We think that because our life is a mess, that because we have sinned again, we must resolve to build a better life that earns God’s favor. Do not trust your idols of work. They are rubbish. You will never shape up. Throw your idols on the trash heap before God does it for you.

Now if you wish to make something of yourself for God’s glory, go right ahead. Stop sinning. Be a better person. Make something of yourself that is pleasing to God. But do not think your actions warrant God’s favor and forgiveness. Only the work of Christ done on your behalf has merit in God’s eyes. Anything else is a trap.

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

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