“You are not under law but under grace…”

Sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.

Romans 6:14

Even for God’s people, it is easy to forget the wonderful works of God, the works of God by which He saves us through faith in Jesus Christ. It’s not easy because of Holy Scripture. It’s easy to forget God’s grace to us in Christ on account of our sinful nature, on account of the world, and on account of the devil himself. We take for granted the remission of sins, God’s goodness toward us, and all the blessings with which He blesses us. We begin to believe that we somehow contribute to God’s favor toward us—saying and doing the right thing, being good, acting humbly, trying to dot all the I’s and cross all the T’s. We thus strive all the more by our own activities to be certain of God’s will toward us.

Also, in the midst of taking for granted what God gives to us and does for us, and adding our contributions, ironically, we become less certain and more doubtful of our genuine and eternal peace with God. The more we place on our shoulders, the less is placed on Christ, and the less sure we become. On the other hand, when all is placed on Christ for certainty of salvation, and none on us, there is nothing but certainty. Thus will we also fight against those tendencies to “do things on our own,” to forsake the Word of God, to trust in our own faith. Rather will we seek Christ, hear his voice, and attend to the hearing of His Holy Word, for there we know God for us in Christ, God’s grace in Christ. Amen.

Luther

Therefore I admonish you, especially those of you who are to become instructors of consciences, as well as each of you individually, that you exercise yourselves by study, by reading, by meditation, and by prayer, so that in temptation you will be able to instruct consciences, both your own and others, console them, and take them from the Law to grace, from active righteousness to passive righteousness, in short, from Moses to Christ. In affliction and in the conflict of conscience it is the devil’s habit to frighten us with the Law and to set against us the consciousness of sin, our wicked past, the wrath and judgment of God, hell and eternal death, so that thus he may drive us into despair, subject us to himself, and pluck us from Christ. It is also his habit to set against us those passages in the Gospel in which Christ Himself requires works from us and with plain words threatens damnation to those who do not perform them. If here we cannot distinguish between these two kinds of righteousness; if here by faith we do not take hold of Christ, who is sitting at the right hand of God, who is our life and our righteousness, and who makes intercession for us miserable sinners before the Father (Heb. 7:25), then we are under the Law and not under grace, and Christ is no longer a Savior. Then He is a lawgiver. Then there can be no salvation left, but sure despair and eternal death will follow. (Luther’s Lectures on Galatians, LW 26, p10-11)

Prayer: Gracious God, help me to resist the temptation of the devil, the world, and my own sinful flesh to seek help apart from you. Give me confidence of Your tender mercies towards me in Jesus Christ, so that I be sure of Your grace and not entertain thoughts that I have strength of my own before You. Amen.

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