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The work of the Holy Spirit through the Law has been fatally neglected in this century. Lutherans have also suffered from the lawless legalists, church leaders who invent their own laws and make them necessary for salvation, while living contrary to the divinely ordained Ten Commandments.

The Kokomo perversion of justification can also be viewed as a result of the improper teaching of the Law. Another manifestation of the neglect of God's Law is the failed attempt to merge Christianity with psychology, giving us many examples of lawlessness, where feelings are normative, or legalism, where healing can come only through works of the law: you must build up your self-esteem.

One of Luther's great insights was the division of the Bible into Law and Gospel, not that the Old Testament is all Law and the New Testament all Gospel. We can discern that passages are either Law, making demands and condemning sin, or Gospel, offering forgiveness apart from the works of the Law. This distinction is emphasized again in the Book of Concord and in all Lutheran theologians following the Concordists.

A proper distinction is so important that many difficulties can be diagnosed as a confusion of Law and Gospel. For instance, when a father caught a large softball tossed at a china setting by his daughter and returned it to her without comment, we can conclude he was offering the Gospel at the worst possible time. When an individual is told he must give up all alcohol before he can be forgiven of his sins, that is a misuse of the Law, mixing it with the Gospel, just as the Galatian false teachers told their victims that they must be circumcised to be real Christians.

Legalists have their own law, so they do not need to obey the Ten Commandments. They give the impression that they tithe mint, but they are really quite lawless, dishonest, deceptive, and unreliable.

so they
do not
need to
obey the

Holy Cross
Lutheran Church,
Midland, Michigan

June 25-26, 2002

Phone: 623-334-8014

Email: chemnitz@qwest.net