Theology for all!

Wednesday, June 21, 2023

HAVE NO FEAR Matthew 10:5a, 21-33 Sermon


Predictions, projections, and best guesses—everyone likes to state what they think the future will hold. Meteorologists forecast the daily weather, sports journalists predict the outcome of a championship series, pollsters project the probable winner of an election, news commentators declare the direction of the nation, and futurists explain what the world will be like a few decades hence. In addition, our daily conversations are sprinkled with future talk: “Who do you think will win?” “What are your retirement plans?” “What will your son do after graduation?” Often these amateur prophecies are not fulfilled exactly as stated: Partly sunny turns into a downpour, the underdog becomes an upset victor, a technological breakthrough changes the way we live, and an unexpected event alters our plans. With biblical prophets, the story reads quite differently. Inspired by God, each of their predictions would come true, in exact detail. The Gospel of Matthew provides amazing examples of the power and accuracy of God’s prophets who had foretold the coming of the Messiah. From his humble birth by a virgin (see Isaiah 7:14) in Bethlehem (see Micah 5:2), to his crucifixion (see Psalm 22:14, 16–17) with criminals (see Isaiah 53:12) and resurrection from the dead (see Psalm 16:10), Jesus did what the prophets had predicted—he fulfilled every prophecy and fit every description of the Jewish Savior. As you read this Gospel, follow the dramatic story, predicted in detail centuries before, of Jesus, the Messiah, King of kings and Lord of lords … and your Savior too.

Bruce B. Barton, Matthew, Life Application Bible Commentary (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1996), x–xi.

Matthew 10:1-33

English Standard Version

10 And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction. 2 The names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; 3 Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; 4 Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.5 These twelve Jesus sent out, instructing them, “Go nowhere among the Gentiles and enter no town of the Samaritans

Christ told his disciples to go to the Jews first with the Gospel. 

This doesn’t mean that Christ was only giving the Gospel to the Jewish people. It just meant that moment in time in Jesus’ ministry, he wanted the Gospel preached to his cultural group first. 

Today, that causes me to think.  Here in this church, it’s easy to assume that everyone has a complete grasp on the gospel message. It’s easy to assume that our Lutheran, Christian group gets it. But do you realize that as Christians, we need the Gospel just as much as non-believers do? Do you think here in America that Christians understand the Gospel? I believe there is tremendous confusion even in our churches about who Jesus is, what he accomplished, and why it matters. I believe we have to have a clear understanding of the Gospel before we can go out and preach it. Because make no mistake, the pure Word of God will challenge and create a reaction in those who hear it. I do not believe you can be a Christian in today’s world and escape some kind of persecution for your faith. This is why Christ tells us to be both wise and innocent. We are in a world where Christianity is becoming more and more hated. But have no fear. Jesus has us covered. 

Persecution Will Come – 

16 “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. 17 Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, 18 and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles. 19 When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. 20 For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. 21 Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death, 22 and you will be hated by all for my name's sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 23 When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next, for truly, I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.24 “A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. 25 It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household.



Get flogged, dragged before leaders

Don’t be nervous; the Spirit will speak through you.

Families will betray each other

All will hate you because of Christ

Endure to the end to be saved. 

Leave if you are persecuted. 

Israel still needs the Gospel.

A disciple is not above his teacher, but may be like his teacher. 

If they called Jesus the devil, what will they call you? 

Jesus likens the enemies of the Gospel to ravenous wolves. That is serious language that we should not be taken lightly.  Then he says that we should be as wise as serpents and as innocent as doves. I know that there is the serpent in the Garden, but in the Eastern parts of the world, serpents are revered for their wisdom and intelligence. I married a Chinese woman; serpents are respected in their culture. We have to be cunning and pure to make it in this world. We’re gonna get persecuted. Today, all around the world, Christians are being martyred, thrown in jail, they’re having their property confiscated, all these things. Families are turning on each other. In many cults and other religions, family members will in fact disown you or turn you in to authorities if you convert to Christianity. And that’s getting off easy. Jesus predicted the utter hatred the world will have for us. But the Spirit of God will give us boldness and wisdom to speak in front of people, wisdom that the world cannot contradict (Luke 10:10). But those that endure will be saved. Remember this Christian walk is a marathon. Maybe an ultramarathon. Jesus also said to expect opposition, but don’t foolishly throw our lives away. If we are persecuted in one location, it’s okay to leave. Jesus said that he would never be beneath us, but we could be like him. Now if we are like him, and they called Jesus the devil, of course people will say horrible things about us. But have no fear. Jesus is near. 

Now what did Jesus mean by saying that the disciples would not go through all the towns in Israel before the Son of Man came?  Because of the events of the book of Acts, it seems more likely that Jesus was referring to events after his resurrection. The meaning of his words would be that the task of the mission to the Jews would be so great and so difficult (for many would refuse to believe) that it would not be accomplished even by the time of his second coming.

Bruce B. Barton, Matthew, Life Application Bible Commentary (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1996), 209–210.

It’s hard sometimes to see Christ being near us when we are being persecuted. Since the time of Jesus, his followers have endured some of the most horrible atrocities. 

Besides being put to death they [Christians under Nero’s persecution] were made to serve as objects of amusement; they were clad in the hides of beasts and torn to death by dogs; others were crucified; others set on fire to serve to illuminate the night. Tacitus, Roman historian

Bruce B. Barton, Matthew, Life Application Bible Commentary (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1996), 208.

Hebrews tells us in chapter 11 Verses 35-38 Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. 36 Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two,[a] they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated— 38 of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.

This is referring to a lot of the saints of the Old Testament, but in Jesus’ time and after his time ,the church faced horrible persecution from the Romans.  And today, many Christians are still being martyred. But Jesus tells us to have no fear.

Have No Fear

26 “So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. 27 What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. 28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. 30 But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. 32 So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, 33 but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.

Don’t fear the authorities. 

The covered will be revealed, the hidden will be known

Repeat what I say in the dark in the light

Proclaim what is whispered on the housetops.

Don’t fear those who have no say over your immortal soul. 

No sparrow falls without the Father.

Our hairs are numbered.

Acknowledge Me; I’ll Acknowledge You.

Deny me; I’ll deny you.  

Christ is describing the great love that the Father has for us. He says that everything that is done to us as his believers will be revealed and exposed to the light. Christ says, we cannot fear those who have no immortal hold on us. Why should we be afraid of them? Even the sparrows don’t fall from trees without the Father being there. And if our hairs our numbered, how can we doubt the incredible love which the Father, Son and Spirit all have for us? 

For one thing, Jesus never commands us to meet insults with more insults. 

STICKS AND STONES Jesus was accused of being Beelzebub, and he told his followers to expect the same treatment. Words are powerful weapons, and Jesus’ disciples can count on hearing a good number of bad ones slung at them. When you’re the victim of intimidation or slander, keep your cool. Jesus took those knocks too. Instead of getting testy, try laughing a little, and if that doesn’t quiet the name-calling, try a solid, forthright, clear-eyed comeback such as, “Would you please stop? That hurts, and it’s not true.” Trading insult for insult is never Jesus’ way.

Bruce B. Barton, Matthew, Life Application Bible Commentary (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1996), 210.

WHEN BAD NEWS COMES During the Vietnam war, the worst sight in the world (State-side) was two dress uniforms walking up to a door. It meant a casualty at that house, and many tears were shed at those doorsteps. Bad news comes. People without an anchor—without God—are shaken to the foundations. Grief strikes us all with bitter arrows, but God’s people rest in hope, respond with courage, and live on by faith. God’s care for each of us is greater than the enemy’s hatred. Grieve when bad news comes, but don’t fear. Have No Fear. 

Bruce B. Barton, Matthew, Life Application Bible Commentary (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1996), 212.

It has never ceased to amaze me that we Christians have developed a kind of selective vision which allows us to be deeply and sincerely involved in worship and church activities and yet almost totally pagan in the day-in, day-out guts of our business lives … and never realize it. Keith Miller

Bruce B. Barton, Matthew, Life Application Bible Commentary (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1996), 213.

Folks, we can trust in the goodness of Jesus Christ, even in the face of persecution. With Christianity being more and more marginalized, we can know that the hairs of our heads are still numbered, and the Lord has our back, always.

Friday, June 16, 2023

Holiness Matters: 3rd Use of the Law Sermon


The courtroom is filled with intense drama as the lawyer for the plaintiff states the case for guilt and the lawyer for the defendant builds the case for innocence. Judge and jurors listen carefully in preparation for their verdict. Although Romans was not presented in court, this letter from Paul to the Roman believers reads like a lawyer’s brief as Paul slowly and skillfully presents the case for the gospel. Paul was a scholar and a world traveler. He was a Pharisee and a Roman citizen. But most important, Paul was a follower of Jesus Christ. Because Paul had not visited Rome, he wrote this letter to introduce himself to the Roman believers and to prepare the way for his coming. And so, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, he clearly outlined the Christian message. His readers would know that this Roman citizen was first a citizen of the kingdom of heaven, a brother in Christ.

Bruce B. Barton, David Veerman, and Neil S. Wilson, Romans, Life Application Bible Commentary (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1992), viii–ix.

Up to this point in his letter, Paul has shown people’s need for salvation, God’s gift of that salvation through the death of his Son, and God’s grace in forgiving the sins of all who accept him. Paul’s focus was on justification. This next section of the letter (chapters 6–8) deals with sanctification—God progressively separating believers from sin and making them more like himself. Justification is the first moment of sanctification; it is when we pass, through Christ, from death to life. Sanctification is the step-by-step process when the Holy Spirit works in our lives and conforms us into the image of Christ (8:29). Paul’s discussion of sanctification follows this outline: chapter 6 explains that believers are free from sin’s control; chapter 7 discusses the continuing struggle believers have with sin; and chapter 8 describes how believers can have victory over sin. The key point to realize is that all believers have a new nature and the Holy Spirit within, yet they also have the old, human nature with its capability to sin. These opposites are in constant tension, yet God promises help and victory. Paul begins this chapter by describing the miraculous power of the gospel; it sets people free from sin’s control. It’s not that Christians don’t or can’t sin anymore, but that they are free to choose between doing wrong and doing right. This Christ-bought freedom brings great responsibility. Believers must use their Godgiven opportunity to make right choices, replacing sinful thoughts and actions with righteous ones. Failure to do so means remaining enslaved to sin. But the rewards of serving God include abundant joy and eternal life.

Bruce B. Barton, David Veerman, and Neil S. Wilson, Romans, Life Application Bible Commentary (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1992), 112–113.

That is the summary of this message. We know that we are free in Christ, especially us Lutherans. But why are we free? We are free to be his slaves, his servants, his instruments, his friends, His Bride, His body. In a world where people are doing whatever they want, holiness matters

12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. 13 Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. 14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

After explaining what the earlier points of this chapter of Romans entails, Paul encourages the people to still pursue those things that pertain to righteousness. The Apostle encourages us to present ourselves to God has a people resurrected, and our members to God as instruments for righteousness. Then it says sin should not have dominion over us, since we are under grace. And since we are under grace, holiness matters. 

Now we know as Lutherans that our salvation is by faith through grace, through Jesus Christ. We know that we don’t possess any righteousness in and of ourselves to live a holy lifestyle, and we don’t have any merit in us that would allow us to save ourselves. No, we fully rely on Christ for our justification, that is, the declaration that we are not guilty because of our faith in Christ. Our sin debt has been paid in full. However, Paul is not so much talking about justification here, but about sanctification. What is sanctification? It is the gradual process by which we who have a relationship with Christ become more Christ-like. 

How is this accomplished? Is this a matter of mental toughness, or simply trying harder to be more holy? No! It is all faith-based. We are given the gift of righteousness by Jesus:

2 Corinthians 5:21

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

1 Corinthians 1:30-31  30 And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

There we have it. We fully rely on God for our salvation, but many people think it’s up to us to start that process of inner cleansing. But no, it’s all Jesus, from start to finish. Hebrews tells us that he is the author and perfecter of our faith.  

And now that we know this, what do we do next? Let’s go to verse 15….

15 What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! 16 Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. 19 I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification.

So Paul asks and says what now? Since we are not under the law but under grace, should we just sin willingly? Not at all! He says we are slaves of whoever we obey, either sin or obedience. Then Paul thanks God that we were once slaves, but now we have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which we were committed, and are now free from sin and slaves of righteousness. Then Paul says, since we were slaves to impurity, now become slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification. 

Paul says that since through Christ we have BECOME slaves of righteousness, now present our members, or our bodies as slaves of righteousness. So become slaves of righteousness, because we already ARE, slaves of righteousness. What does this mean? This means that through the power of the Holy Spirit, we walk by faith with the Spirit of God. The book of Galatians tells us to keep in step with the Spirit. Not move ahead of Him, not move behind him, but rather keep in step. It really sounds like a military language, doesn’t it? How do we walk by faith with the Holy Spirit? Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of Christ. In other terms, the Spirit of God works through the Word of God, so that we can do the Will of God through faith. 

  • Psalm 107:20 (ESV)
    He sent out his word and healed them, and delivered them from their destruction.

  • Matthew 13:15 (ESV)
    For this people’s heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.’

Do you see? It is in the word of God, and the Words of God that you find healing. Seeing with our eyes, hearing with our ears, understanding with our heart, and turning, Christ says that when we do these things through God’s Spirit, he will heal us. To turn means to repent. To repent means to change our minds. This means aligning our view of sin with God’s view of sin. Aligning our beliefs on what’s right and wrong with what God’s Word says about what’s right and wrong. Because holiness matters.

So we are now in Christ. We have the indwelling Holy Spirit. We have recieved the forgiveness of sins through our faith in Christ’s proclamation that our sins are forgiven. Now Paul goes deeper into his comparison of our old lives and our new lives. 

20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Paul says that when we were slaves to sin, we were free in regards to righteousness. But he asks, how did things go before you knew Jesus? How did it go when you were living in sin? He says those things only result in death. But since we are free from sin and are now slaves of God, the fruit we receive now leads to sanctification and eternal life. Then Paul says a very famous verse. He says that the payment we receive for sinning is death, but the free gift of God is life everlasting through Christ. 

Now what is Paul saying exactly? He is saying that we are released from the Old Adam, and the Old Eve, through the Word, through our faith and through our baptisms. We have the Spirit living in us, who gives us power to not always give in. Because holiness matters


" 'Our old self was crucified with him [Christ] so that the sinful body might be destroyed' [Rom. 6:6]. He says our old man is crucified, and yet the sinful body must be destroyed even in us. He would never say that Christ destroys the imperfect body, or the body of punishment. Observe that we have five clear passages in which he speaks of sin, in addition to the places which we have not enumerated where Paul speaks of individual faults. Yet these insignificant vendors of smoke would compel all these heavenly thunderings to yield to an invented interpretation, spawned out of their own heads, unconfirmed by a single text of Scripture. We shall deal later with the seventh chapter [of Romans], which is closely related to this.

What then, are we sinners? No, rather we are justified, but by grace. Righteousness is not situated in those qualitative forms, but in the mercy of God. In fact, if you remove mercy from the godly, they are sinners and really have sin, but it is not imputed to them because they believe and live under the reign of mercy, and because sin is condemned and continually put to death in them. This is a most glorious pardon which comes through baptism."

Martin Luther

Luther's Works

AE 32:208

Career of the Reformer II

Against Latomus

Theologian of the University of Louvain in Belgium


So what do we do? We trust in Christ’s ability to change us. Hebrews says: 

Hebrews 10:14 ESV

14 For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.

He already has, perfected for all time, those who are being sanctified. On earth as it is in heaven. In other words, when scripture says Jesus is the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world, it is saying our redemption was accomplished on the cross. The process of being sanctified, or being more Christ-like is our walking out on earth what has already been accomplished for us in the heavens. So in the purity and simplicity of the Gospel message, yes, we should pursue holiness, but the pressure is off! We don’t have to feel guilty if we don’t live up to certain standards. Our destination is already decided as Christians; so we are given grace for the journey. The journey, or the pilgrimage through this life is us pursuing Christ-like character through the Word, Spirit, and Sacraments. But why? So this world can be drawn to the Christ they see in us. So our neighbors and friends and colleagues can benefit from the Christ that is in us. Holiness Matters. 

So now, we have been bought. We have been captured. We are now slaves of righteousness. We can live in this world without being conformed to this world. In spite of what our culture and society are saying, Holiness Matters. We live in a time where there is an LGBTQ+ agenda out there. Yet holiness matters. Jesus was the most pure person who ever lived. The hypocrites and religious leaders were turned off by him, but the sinner, those who knew they needed forgiveness, were fiercely drawn to the character of Jesus, like a moth to the flame. There is a book called “Beautiful Outlaw” that talks about how the character of Jesus was utterly attractive:

“He is the playfulness of creation, scandal and utter goodness, the generosity of the ocean and the ferocity of a thunderstorm; he is cunning as a snake and gentle as a whisper; the gladness of sunshine and the humility of a thirty-mile walk by foot on a dirt road.”

John Eldredge, Beautiful Outlaw: Experiencing the Playful, Disruptive, Extravagant Personality of Jesus

Wednesday, May 31, 2023

AALC Law & Gospel Class

 Greetings Everyone, 

     We are here today for another round of our ongoing Law & Gospel discussion. This is a theme woven throughout scripture that is very prominent in Confessional Lutheran circles (my camp). After reading Galatians, Luther began to understand that there are some portions of scripture that are Law, and there are others that are Gospel.  For example, in Ephesians, there are commands to flee sexual immorality, etc.  This is indeed biblical, and we also as Lutherans describe a third use of the Law (1. curb 2. mirror 3. guide). In other words, we are justified by grace alone through faith alone, yet once we are converted, there is an aspect of sanctification we subscribe to.  Interestingly enough, the original giving of the The 10 Commandments invokes the third use of the Law.  Before the Law is given, God says this to the people: 

The Decalogue

20 [a] God spoke all these words:[b]

“I,[c] the Lord, am your God,[d] who brought you[e] from the land of Egypt, from the house of slavery.[f]

We see that God tells the people to be holy because he has brought them from slavery. This is critical to pay attention to.  Sanctification is because, not in order to, as believers bought by the blood of the Lamb. This is also very freeing and uplifting because we don't have to perform, or be fixated on our holiness. We do strive for it, but for our neighbors and for the world. This is our corem mundo, our righteousness before man. There is a separate kind of righteousness, that is corem deo, our righteousness before God, which is declaritive, judicial and positional. The Solid Declaration of the Formula of Concord states:

VI. The Third Use of the Law

1 Since the Law of God is useful, 1. not only to the end that external discipline and decency are maintained by it against wild, disobedient men; 2. likewise, that through it men are brought to a knowledge of their sins; 3. but also that, when they have been born anew by the Spirit of God, converted to the Lord, and thus the veil of Moses has been lifted from them, they live and walk in the law, a dissension has occurred between some few theologians concerning this third and last use of the Law. 2 For the one side taught and maintained that the regenerate do not learn the new obedience, or in what good works they ought to walk, from the Law, and that this teaching [concerning good works] is not to be urged thence [from the law], because they have been made free by the Son of God, have become the temples of His Spirit, and therefore do freely of themselves what God requires of them, by the prompting and impulse of the Holy Ghost, just as the sun of itself, without any [foreign] impulse, completes its ordinary course. 3 Over against this the other side taught: Although the truly believing are verily moved by God’s Spirit, and thus, according to the inner man, do God’s will from a free spirit, yet it is just the Holy Ghost who uses the written law for instruction with them, by which the truly believing also learn to serve God, not according to their own thoughts, but according to His written Law and Word, which is a sure rule and standard of a godly life and walk, how to order it in accordance with the eternal and immutable will of God.

4 For the explanation and final settlement of this dissent we unanimously believe, teach, and confess that although the truly believing and truly converted to God and justified Christians are liberated and made free from the curse of the Law, yet they should daily exercise themselves in the Law of the Lord, as it is written, Ps. 1:2;119:1: Blessed is the man whose delight is in the Law of the Lord, and in His Law doth he meditate day and night. For the Law is a mirror in which the will of God, and what pleases Him, are exactly portrayed, and which should [therefore] be constantly held up to the believers and be diligently urged upon them without ceasing.

5 For although the Law is not made for a righteous man, as the apostle testifies 1 Tim. 1:9, but for the unrighteous, yet this is not to be understood in the bare meaning, that the justified are to live without law. For the Law of God has been written in their heart, and also to the first man immediately after his creation a law was given according to which he was to conduct himself. But the meaning of St. Paul is that the Law cannot burden with its curse those who have been reconciled to God through Christ; nor must it vex the regenerate with its coercion, because they have pleasure in God’s Law after the inner man.

6 And, indeed, if the believing and elect children of God were completely renewed in this life by the indwelling Spirit, so that in their nature and all its powers they were entirely free from sin, they would need no law, and hence no one to drive them either, but they would do of themselves, and altogether voluntarily, without any instruction, admonition, urging or driving of the Law, what they are in duty bound to do according to God’s will; just as the sun, the moon, and all the constellations of heaven have their regular course of themselves, unobstructed, without admonition, urging, driving, force, or compulsion, according to the order of God which God once appointed for them, yea, just as the holy angels render an entirely voluntary obedience.

7 However, believers are not renewed in this life perfectly or completely, completive vel consummative [as the ancients say]; for although their sin is covered by the perfect obedience of Christ, so that it is not imputed to believers for condemnation, and also the mortification of the old Adam and the renewal in the spirit of their mind is begun through the Holy Ghost, nevertheless the old Adam clings to them still in their nature and all its internal and external powers. 8 Of this the apostle has written Rom. 7:18ff.: I know that in me [that is, in my flesh] dwelleth no good thing. And again: For that which I do I allow not; for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that I do; Likewise: I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin. Likewise, Gal. 5:17: The flesh lusteth against the spirit and the spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary the one to the other, so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.

9 Therefore, because of these lusts of the flesh the truly believing, elect, and regenerate children of God need in this life not only the daily instruction and admonition, warning, and threatening of the Law, but also frequently punishments, that they may be roused [the old man is driven out of them] and follow the Spirit of God, as it is written Ps. 119:71: It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I might learn Thy statutes. And again, 1 Cor. 9:27: I keep under my body and bring it into subjection, lest that, by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway. And again, Heb. 12:8: But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards and not sons; as Dr. Luther has fully explained this at greater length in the Summer Part of the Church Postil, on the Epistle for the Nineteenth Sunday after Trinity.

10 But we must also explain distinctively what the Gospel does, produces, and works towards the new obedience of believers, and what is the office of the Law in this matter, as regards the good works of believers.

11 For the Law says indeed that it is God’s will and command that we should walk in a new life, but it does not give the power and ability to begin and do it; but the Holy Ghost, who is given and received, not through the Law, but through the preaching of the Gospel, Gal. 3:14, renews the heart. 12 Thereafter the Holy Ghost employs the Law so as to teach the regenerate from it, and to point out and show them in the Ten Commandments what is the [good and] acceptable will of God, Rom. 12:2, in what good works God hath before ordained that they should walk, Eph. 2:10. He exhorts them thereto, and when they are idle, negligent, and rebellious in this matter because of the flesh, He reproves them on that account through the Law, so that He carries on both offices together: He slays and makes alive; He leads into hell and brings up again. For His office is not only to comfort, but also to reprove, as it is written: When the Holy Ghost is come, He will reprove the world (which includes also the old Adam) of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment. 13 But sin is everything that is contrary to God’s Law. 14 And St. Paul says: All Scripture given by inspiration of God is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, etc., and to reprove is the peculiar office of the Law. Therefore, as often as believers stumble, they are reproved by the Holy Spirit from the Law, and by the same Spirit are raised up and comforted again with the preaching of the Holy Gospel.

15 But in order that, as far as possible, all misunderstanding may be prevented, and the distinction between the works of the Law and those of the Spirit be properly taught and preserved it is to be noted with especial diligence that when we speak of good works which are in accordance with God’s Law (for otherwise they are not good works), then the word Law has only one sense, namely, the immutable will of God, according to which men are to conduct themselves in their lives.

16 The difference, however, is in the works, because of the difference in the men who strive to live according to this Law and will of God. For as long as man is not regenerate, and [therefore] conducts himself according to the Law and does the works because they are commanded thus, from fear of punishment or desire for reward, he is still under the Law, and his works are called by St. Paul properly works of the Law, for they are extorted by the Law, as those of slaves; and these are saints after the order of Cain [that is, hypocrites].

17 But when man is born anew by the Spirit of God, and liberated from the Law, that is, freed from this driver, and is led by the Spirit of Christ, he lives according to the immutable will of God comprised in the Law, and so far as he is born anew, does everything from a free, cheerful spirit; and these are called not properly works of the Law, but works and fruits of the Spirit, or as St. Paul names it, the law of the mind and the Law of Christ. For such men are no more under the Law, but under grace, as St. Paul says, Rom. 8:2 [Rom. 7:23; 1 Cor. 9:21 ].

18 But since believers are not completely renewed in this world, but the old Adam clings to them even to the grave, there also remains in them the struggle between the spirit and the flesh. Therefore they delight indeed in God’s Law according to the inner man, but the law in their members struggles against the law in their mind; hence they are never without the Law, and nevertheless are not under, but in the Law, and live and walk in the Law of the Lord, and yet do nothing from constraint of the Law.

19 But as far as the old Adam is concerned, which still clings to them, he must be driven not only with the Law, but also with punishments; nevertheless he does everything against his will and under coercion, no less than the godless are driven and held in obedience by the threats of the Law, 1 Cor. 9:27; Rom. 7:18. 19.

20 So, too, this doctrine of the Law is needful for believers, in order that they may not hit upon a holiness and devotion of their own, and under the pretext of the Spirit of God set up a self-chosen worship, without God’s Word and command, as it is written Deut. 12:8,28,32: Ye shall not do … every man whatsoever is right in his own eyes, etc., but observe and hear all these words which I command thee. Thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish therefrom.

21 So, too, the doctrine of the Law, in and with [the exercise of] the good works of believers, is necessary for the reason that otherwise man can easily imagine that his work and life are entirely pure and perfect. But the Law of God prescribes to believers good works in this way, that it shows and indicates at the same time, as in a mirror, that in this life they are still imperfect and impure in us, so that we must say with the beloved Paul, 1 Cor. 4:4: I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified. Thus Paul, when exhorting the regenerate to good works, presents to them expressly the Ten Commandments, Rom. 13:9; and that his good works are imperfect and impure he recognizes from the Law, Rom. 7:7ff ; and David declares Ps. 119:32: Viam mandatorum tuorum cucurri, I will run the way of Thy commandments; but enter not into judgment with Thy servant, for in Thy sight shall no man living be justified, Ps. 143:2.

22 But how and why the good works of believers, although in this life they are imperfect and impure because of sin in the flesh, are nevertheless acceptable and well-pleasing to God, is not taught by the Law, which requires an altogether perfect, pure obedience if it is to please God. But the Gospel teaches that our spiritual offerings are acceptable to God through faith for Christ’s sake, 1 Pet. 2:5; Heb. 11:4ff. 23 In this way Christians are not under the Law, but under grace, because by faith in Christ the persons are freed from the curse and condemnation of the Law; and because their good works, although they are still imperfect and impure, are acceptable to God through Christ; moreover, because so far as they have been born anew according to the inner man, they do what is pleasing to God, not by coercion of the Law, but by the renewing of the Holy Ghost, voluntarily and spontaneously from their hearts; however, they maintain nevertheless a constant struggle against the old Adam.

24 For the old Adam, as an intractable, refractory ass, is still a part of them, which must be coerced to the obedience of Christ, not only by the teaching, admonition, force and threatening of the Law, but also oftentimes by the club of punishments and troubles, until the body of sin is entirely put off, and man is perfectly renewed in the resurrection, when he will need neither the preaching of the Law nor its threatenings and punishments, as also the Gospel any longer; for these belong to this [mortal and] imperfect life. 25 But as they will behold God face to face, so they will, through the power of the indwelling Spirit of God, do the will of God [the heavenly Father] with unmingled joy, voluntarily, unconstrained, without any hindrance, with entire purity and perfection, and will rejoice in it eternally.

26 Accordingly, we reject and condemn as an error pernicious and detrimental to Christian discipline, as also to true godliness, the teaching that the Law, in the above-mentioned way and degree, should not be urged upon Christians and the true believers, but only upon the unbelieving, unchristians, and impenitent.

The Law is better preached as a curb for those who are not Christians. We see in society that secular law tends to curb crime and sin. We may think that the world is incredibly violent. But imagine the world without any laws!! If you've seen the movie "The Purge," it is a movie about what would happen if people were allowed to do exactly what they want for 24 hours. Meaning, if you disagree with a co-worker, or get caught up in road rage, you could shoot that person without discretion. Of course we would find that reprehensible, but if we consider our thoughts...if we've ever thought about killing or hurting someone, we're just as guilty as if we pulled the trigger. 

     Who is sufficient for these things? I believe that the Spirit of God uses the Law as a curb for the world, but also a curb, mirror and guide for the Christian.  I think the Law can also be used as a mirror to convict the conscience of the unregenerated also. If the Law is preached, and people are exposed to the reality of their sinful natures, prayerfully the Spirit of God will bring new birth to that person, and usher them into the kingdom of God. We must remember that salvation is God's work, and not our work. This is a radical concept to the majority of evangelicals. Yet if we hold true to scripture, we see that no one can come to Christ unless they are drawn by the Father (John 6:44). It is entirely the Spirit that does the drawing and wooing. More to come on that!!