One of our Lutheran distinctives is the desire to work out that delicate balance we call Christian liberty. This is just what Rev. Borghardt successfully communicates in his capable handling of the some of the principles from Martin Luther’s work, On Christian Liberty. This article is from the Spring 2013 issue of Higher Things magazine. You can find more awesome articles like this one here.
By Rev. George F. Borghardt
“A Christian is a perfectly free lord of all, subject to none. A Christian is a perfectly dutiful servant of all, subject to all.1”
You don’t have to do the Law. You don’t.
You don’t have to obey the Ten Commandments.
You aren’t even subject to them. There’s no test afterwards. There is no time when God will catch you on the last day and say, “Tsk-tsk, you missed one.”
Christ has fulfilled the Law for you. He took all the tests that God requires of you on your behalf. He turned in His assignment from God with your name on it. What God requires of you, Jesus did for you. What God wants you to do, the way God wants you to live, Jesus did in your place. Each step, each move He made. It was as if He said, “I’m doing this—not for me, but for you.”
Check the Commandments. Read them. Mark them. Take them to heart. You’ll see for yourself what your Savior has done for you.
In fact, looking at the Commandments, you’ll see what you’ve done in Christ. You did all of them in Christ—every last one of them! You didn’t miss even one in Jesus. There’s not a single commandment left for you to do.
It’s like someone did your homework and took your tests, and you got the perfect grades. It’s like God has given you a snow day from the Law!
No, it’s not “like” God has done these things, He actually has done them all for you in the Cross of Christ. There is no Law waiting around the next corner—no extra work hiding just out of sight. Jesus did it all. Every last commandment. Every last precept that God could come up with for you to do.
Faith receives Jesus. Faith has everything because faith lays hold of Christ’s holy life and His sufferings and death. Faith hopes, loves, believes in nothing other than Christ’s cross alone.
The Law has been perfectly done by Jesus’ holy life. That leaves you perfectly free. Completely free. Totally free! Christ is the end of the Law for those who have faith in Him.
“There must be something for me to do.” “It can’t be that easy.” “If that were true then anyone could be saved.” These are those pesky objections we often hear or toss out there ourselves. Yes, yes, anyone could be saved. But many are not saved because they reject this very faith by trying to put themselves into the equation and do something for God.
God is pleased in Christ’s work alone, not your work. In fact, God doesn’t need you to do the Law. The Law can’t make you better in God’s eyes. In Baptism you have already been covered in Jesus before God.
Now, there are some around you who could use you being so free as to be free for them. They could use you taking up the commandments, not to save yourself but for their sakes. They could use some love. They could use a break. They could use you serving them with some of Jesus’ cross-won forgiveness.
Mom and Dad really need you to honor them. Your teachers and pastor could really use some respect, too. Your friends and neighbors need you to love them and give your life for them. Your girlfriend or boyfriend needs you to be chaste and decent. The people around you need you to respect their stuff and not take it from them. Your friends (and enemies) need you to defend them and speak well of them. And coveting? Nobody wants you wanting to have their stuff!
Christ loved others. He put them first. He loved them more than He loved Himself. He loved you more than He loved Himself. He loved those around you, too. He gave up His life for all. He is Lord of all, and He served everyone. You are completely free, and you serve others...in Him. By faith in Christ, you have all that you need before God. You don’t need more works for God. You couldn’t get more works, even if you tried. How could you? You have Jesus’ works!
Jesus has more works than you could ever do! He has works that He’s going to do through you for your neighbor.
1 Luther, M. (1999). Vol. 31: Luther’s works, vol. 31: Career of the Reformer I (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald & H. T. Lehmann, Ed.) (344). Philadelphia: Fortress Press.
Rev. George F. Borghardt is currently the Conference and Deputy Executive for Higher Things but will begin his first term as President of the Board of Directors on May 1. He also serves as Senior Pastor at Zion Ev. Lutheran Church in McHenry, Illinois.
Created: April 23rd, 2013