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…God gave it to Abraham by promise

For if the inheritance is of the law, it is no longer of promise; but God gave it to Abraham by promise.

Galatians 3:18

Proper placement of a thing is important.  In a car, if oil was placed in the gas tank and gas in the engine, the vehicle wouldn’t run.  If the frig door was on the back against the wall, you couldn’t open it.  If there was no connection for the mouse of your computer, you couldn’t move the cursor by means of a mouse.

All the more is proper placement a necessity in the realm of Law and Gospel.  The Law of God does have its place.  By it, the Law teaches, even commands, how we are to live in the world as God’s people and how we are to serve others.  By the Gospel, in contrast, God reveals our salvation, through faith in Jesus Christ.  Where Law and Gospel are confused or mingled, trouble ensues and both lose their distinctiveness and lead either to despair or self-righteousness. The Law then takes the place of the Gospel and the Gospel takes place of the Law.

This is exactly what happens where God’s doctrine (teaching according to the Bible) is intermingled with man’s.  Then, when conscience is troubled because of sin, no confidence in God because of Christ is found, only uncertainty or false security (trust in one’s own works/righteousness).

On the other hand, where Law and Gospel are rightly divided and their proper sphere kept aright, complete confidence before God through faith in Jesus Christ is maintained, as well as active love towards neighbor.


Therefore let us learn diligently this art of distinguishing between these two kinds of righteousness, in order that we may know how far we should obey the Law. We have said above that in a Christian the Law must not exceed its limits but should have its dominion only over the flesh, which is subjected to it and remains under it. When this is the case, the Law remains within its limits. But if it wants to ascend into the conscience and exert its rule there, see to it that you are a good dialectician and that you make the correct distinction. Give no more to the Law than it has coming, and say to it: “Law, you want to ascend into the realm of conscience and rule there. You want to denounce its sin and take away the joy of my heart, which I have through faith in Christ. You want to plunge me into despair, in order that I may perish. You are exceeding your jurisdiction. Stay within your limits, and exercise your dominion over the flesh. You shall not touch my conscience. For I am baptized; and through the Gospel I have been called to a fellowship of righteousness and eternal life, to the kingdom of Christ, in which my conscience is at peace, where there is no Law but only the forgiveness of sins, peace, quiet, happiness, salvation, and eternal life. Do not disturb me in these matters. In my conscience not the Law will reign, that hard tyrant and cruel disciplinarian, but Christ, the Son of God, the King of peace and righteousness, the sweet Savior and Mediator. He will preserve my conscience happy and peaceful in the sound and pure doctrine of the Gospel and in the knowledge of this passive righteousness.” (Luther’s Lectures on Galatians, LW 26, p11)

Prayer: Heavenly Father, forgive me for taking for granted your love and mercy and trusting in my own worthiness for your acceptance.  Help me to distinguish Law and Gospel, that I may ever live by faith in Your only begotten Son and be active in good works that serve my neighbor.  Amen.

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