Calvin On A Mistaken Confidence In Works

We, too, when treating of the righteousness of faith, do not contend against the substance of works, but against that quality with which the sophists invest them,1 inasmuch as they contend that men are justified by them. Paul, therefore, divested himself—not of works, but of that mistaken confidence in works, with which he had been puffed up.

Calvin on Phil 3:8

1 When Calvin says “sophists” he was referring to contemporary Romanist theologians at the Sorbonne in Paris.


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  1. “Strange and monstrous are the longings of our pride. There is nothing which the Lord enjoins more strictly than the religious observance of his Sabbath, in other words resting from our works; but in nothing do we show greater reluctance than to renounce our own works, and give due place to the works of God.” (Calvin’s Institutes)

  2. Good stuff.

    Since the law is written upon our hearts, we naturally gravitate towards having to kick in something.

    We constantly need the reminder that the Lord doesn’t need our help, but saves us in spite of it.

  3. Steve, just to clarify. In my understanding, as sinners we are born under the law and naturally go the way of sin, and yet needing some kind of righteousness we nevertheless seek to justify ourselves according to law, be it ours or God’s.

    Upon believing the gospel we now have a new heart on which God’s law is written. We now agree with it in our inner man. That law now written on my heart born of the Spirit isn’t what cause me to gravitate toward kicking in with my works to help God with our sanctification. Rather, it’s that original corruption in me that draws me to vainly seek a righteousness of my own through works rather than the righteousness of Christ which only comes by faith, remains by faith, and grows by faith.

    As you often say, God doesn’t need our good works, our neighbor does. Blessings, bro.

    • Amen, Jack.

      The battle is on. That old man vs. the new.

      That;s why we constantly need to hear the law and gospel throughout our lives. To put that old sinner to death, over and over and over…and raise the new, over and over and over…

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