For the promise that he would be the heir of the world was not to Abraham or to his seed through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. Where there is no law there is no transgression. Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace, so that the promise might be sure to all the seed, not only to those who are of the law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all.
What a wonderful thing faith in Christ Jesus is! How lamentable that so many take it for granted. By faith the Christian lives (2 Cor 5:7). We so easily forget this truth. It’s according to God’s Word and promise that you believe, not according to what you see.
And by our sight, and experience, what do we see? We see death, pain, suffering, struggling, trial, tribulation, crosses. In a word, we see sin and its effects, both in our lives and in the world around us. But by faith in Christ Jesus, we see that, yes—indeed, these things are so. However, we also see that even though these have their day, they will not remain. Christ crucified and resurrected reveals this to be so. And even in and through the hard and bitter ordeals of this life, Christ for us means salvation—a future hope—but also present promise.
In Christ, the Law is done away with. It can no longer accuse you. “Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us” (Rom 8:33-34).
Then do we do nothing and work nothing in order to obtain this righteousness? I reply: Nothing at all. For this righteousness means to do nothing, to hear nothing, and to know nothing about the Law or about works but to know and believe only this: that Christ has gone to the Father and is now invisible; that He sits in heaven at the right hand of the Father, not as a Judge but as one who has been made for us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption from God (1 Cor. 1:30); in short, that He is our High Priest, interceding for us and reigning over us and in us through grace. Here one notices no sin and feels no terror or remorse of conscience. Sin cannot happen in this Christian righteousness; for where there is no Law, there cannot be any transgression (Rom. 4:15). If, therefore, sin does not have a place here, there is no conscience, no terror, no sadness. Therefore John says: “No one born of God commits sin” (1 John 3:9). But if there is any conscience or fear present, this is a sign that this righteousness has been withdrawn, that grace has been lost sight of, and that Christ is hidden and out of sight. But where Christ is truly seen, there there must be full and perfect joy in the Lord and peace of heart, where the heart declares: “Although I am a sinner according to the Law, judged by the righteousness of the Law, nevertheless I do not despair. I do not die, because Christ lives who is my righteousness and my eternal and heavenly life. In that righteousness and life I have no sin, conscience, and death. I am indeed a sinner according to the present life and its righteousness, as a son of Adam where the Law accuses me, death reigns and devours me. But above this life I have another righteousness, another life, which is Christ, the Son of God, who does not know sin and death but is righteousness and eternal life. For His sake this body of mine will be raised from the dead and delivered from the slavery of the Law and sin, and will be sanctified together with the spirit.” (Luther’s Lectures on Galatians, LW 26, p8-9)
Prayer: Heavenly Father, help me to live by faith, faith in Christ Jesus, and not by sight. Keep me from placing any confidence in my own weak and sinful works. Direct me to Your only Son. Amen.
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