Moses and the Prophets: Faith and Obedience

Pentecost 19 Saturday

Luke 16:27-29

“Then the rich man said: I ask you, father, to send Lazarus to my father’s house–for I have five brothers left–to testify to them, lest they too come to this place of torment. Abraham said to him: They have Moses and the prophets. Let them hear them.”

What do Moses and the prophets preach? Chiefly these two parts: First, they point to the promised Seed of a woman who is to crush the serpent’s head, Genesis 3:15. That is to say, this Seed is to take away the devil’s power and ward the damage off that the devil has attached to all of us…Now, if you hear Moses and the prophets in this way, you will, first of all, despair of your own life, works, and abilities and draw comfort only from this Seed who alone is a blessed Seed who brings the blessing over us who are cursed and condemned people because of our sins, Galatians 3:13. Thus, faith in Christ is the only and true way to escape sin and death and to get to salvation. The rich man did not receive such Savior and comfort; he thought he was good in himself. And indeed, he was outwardly good before the world; for the gospel does not accuse him of being an adulterer, robber, etc. This is why he thought: If I were not this good, God would not give me all this fortune and blessing. For this thinking clings to everybody by nature: When things go badly, we soon think that God is angry with us, does not receive us, so that we must perish without counsel, help, and comfort. Contrariwise, when things go well, when everything goes according to our plans, we think that we are on good terms with God; otherwise, God would not be so gracious to us–although such temporal blessing is a very insignificant and simple matter…The second thing Moses and the prophets teach is this: After we have placed our righteousness and blessedness on the promised Seed alone, they teach that we should obey God: In this temporal life we should do and observe what he has commanded us; contrariwise, we should avoid and leave undone what he has forbidden. For this is what it means to fear God and to have him before your eyes. Yet if you do not do this, if you want to follow your own will and desire–that is, sin–instead of the law of God, you cannot boast that you are a child of God or have God before your eyes. In that case, you run the risk at all times that God will come and attack you and judge you as he finds you. Therefore, let these two, faith and obedience to God, be present together. Faith makes us free from sin and God’s children. Obedience, or love and works of love, make us show ourselves to be obedient children and do not anger God further and have a good conscience. Those who are in known sins and who continue in them without improvement or repentance. In summary, fear God and be good, but do not rely on your goodness, but take comfort in our Lord Jesus Christ alone; then all things will be will for you. For such faith helps you against sin and death. And since God has commanded obedience he will also be pleased
by it; and there is no harm when such obedience is imperfect. For it is not alone but clings to faith, by which we are forgiven that which such obedience still lacks.

St. Louis ed., 13.1:707-709.

This entry was posted in Daily Devotions From the Writings of Martin Luther. Bookmark the permalink.