Löhe on Galatians 3:17

road signs right wrongWhat I mean is this: The law, introduced 430 years later, does not set aside the covenant previously established by God and thus do away with the promise. (Gal 3:17 NIV)

The more eagerly we strive to attain salvation through good works, the more and clearer our reluctance to do good is revealed. This shows the depravity of the law. It is not capable of moving sinful human beings on the new level of pure, just and righteous living. It’s just not part of the law’s repertoire. This does not only pertain to the law of Moses, but also to the high and lofty ideals and prescriptions of morality and other forms of civil religion. All that is nothing else than a poor reflection of God’s commandments delivered at Mt. Sinai. Human morality only has obligatory persuasion insofar as it contains the law of him, who spoke to his elected people of Israel as an example and exhortation to the rest of the nations by far bigger and greater than this smallest of them all. Indeed morality helps even less to salvation than those archaic rules and regulations dictated to Moses.  If the lightning and thunder of that tremendous sermon at Sinai was only helpful to show us our shortcomings, wrongfulness and sinful demeanor and being in the brightest light, then the dim glimmer of worldly morality will not do much more than a bit of moonshine. We are and remain a poor and lowly lineage and can’t live up to God’s lofty standards and divine benchmarks. If we were to be saved by the law, then we would be lost forever. Yet thankfully God had other plans. He didn’t rely on the law to save us, but rather on his gracious Son Jesus Christ.

Since we could not keep what God had commanded in the law, there arose wrath and great distress in many ways before God; the spirit was unwilling to get away from the flesh, especially when the law demanded, our situation was desperate.

It was a misleading delusion to think that God had given his law as if we ourselves could freely live according to his will. The law is in fact a subtle mirror that reveals to us the sinful nature hidden within our flesh

Yet the law had to be fulfilled, or else we were all ruined. God therefore sent his Son to us, who himself became man; he fulfilled the whole law, and so appeased his Father’s wrath which hung over all of us

And since the law has now been fulfilled through him who was able to keep it, each pious Christian should now understand the right form of faith. Nothing more than this: my dear Lord, your death becomes my life, you have paid the price for me.

In this matter I have no doubt, your word cannot deceive. Now you say that nobody should despair, you will never lie about this: anyone who believes in me and is baptized has heaven bought for him, so that he will not be lost. (Paul Speratus 1494-1551 tr Francis Browne 2005)

This is a rather free translation of Wilhelm Löhe’s devotion for Monday after the thirteenth Sunday after the high holiday and festival of the Holy Trinity. It is found on Pg. 306 in Lob sei Dir ewig, o Jesu!   (Eternal Praise to you o Jesus!) edited by A. Schuster and published in the Freimund Verlag, Neuendettelsau 1949.

About Wilhelm Weber

Pastor at the Old Latin School in the Lutherstadt Wittenberg
This entry was posted in Meditations by P.Wilhelm Löhe (Translation) and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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