The Three Things Out of Which Our Life Should Flow

Pentecost 17 Saturday

1 Timothy 1:5

“The chief sum of the commandment is this: Love from a pure heart and from a good conscience and from sincere faith.”

You should teach me as St. Paul does here and everywhere: Good works must flow from a pure, sincere faith, so that the people would obtain the mercy seat above all things. Let us fetch at the mercy seat what we lack, then the verse, “Keep the commandments,” is rightly understood. For the law wants you to be faultlessly good, before God as well as before people. Now, once you have obtained this, go out among the people and practice love and do good works. This is how you really get to it and fulfill all the verses that are like this one. For thereby a person gives and does what the law demands–first, before God–but not through himself, but through Christ without whom we cannot do anything before God. Then also through himself before the people. And this is how you get to be faultlessly good–inwardly, by faith or Christ; then also outwardly by your actions. Yet let the forgiveness of sins also take place among you, so that the righteousness of Christians consists more in forgiving than in the doing. Some loose babblers turn this on its head and, without forgiveness, only urge our deeds…By doing so, they turn into unrighteousness our love and heart and conscience. For the main source is not there, namely, sincere faith. Yet where faith is not sincere, everything that is to grow out of it must be false. And what they allege is a mere specter and mindless babble, a thing seen through colored glass so as to appear to
be of that color although it is not. They think that God should see that color as well, because they have lived before the people according to how things looked to their blind presumption. Yet if that were God’s opinion, he could have kept Christ and the entire preaching of the gospel to himself–why would he concern himself with our need so as to send his Son from heaven and allow him to shed his precious blood to earn and give what we already have out of ourselves? God would be a fool if he spent such a treasure on something no one needs…Therefore let us retain this text, for it is put very well and is a pure, perfect teaching, how we are to be good both before God and the world; how the law demands that we combine these three things, namely, a pure heart, a good conscience, and sincere faith, and that our life should flow out of these three and always be comprehended by them.Then we have hit the law’s meaning on its head and have proclaimed it. Yet let us chiefly see to it and bring Christ into the equation; he is the end of the law and everything else and our whole goodness before God, which we do not find within us and which we shall not ever find without faith, no
matter how long the law’s teaching is inculcated and urged without any rhyme or reason.

St. Louis ed. 9:911-913.

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