The Reformed Agree With Luther

As I have said, therefore, the statement of Moses, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things, etc.,” is not contrary to Paul’s declaration that all who rely on works of the Law are under a curse. For Moses demands a doer who keeps the Law perfectly. But where are we to find such a one? Nowhere. Paul admits that he is not such a one, because he says in Rom. 7:15: “I do not do what I want”; and David says: “Enter not into judgment with Thy servant” (Ps. 143:2). Therefore Moses, together with Paul, necessarily drives us to Christ, through whom we become doers of the Law and are accounted guilty of no transgression. How? First, through the forgiveness of sins and the imputation of righteousness, on account of faith in Christ; secondly, through the gift and the Holy Spirit, who creates a new life and new impulses in us, so that we may keep the Law also in a formal sense. Whatever is not kept is forgiven for the sake of Christ. Besides, whatever sin is left is not imputed to us. Thus Moses agrees with Paul and means the same thing when he says: “Cursed be everyone, etc.,” because he denies that they are keeping the Law when they want to justify themselves on the basis of works; and with Paul he concludes that they are under a curse. Therefore Moses requires true doers, who are men of faith, just as Paul condemns those who are not true doers, that is, who are not men of faith. There is no problem here. Moses was speaking negatively and Paul affirmatively, provided that you define correctly what “doing” means. Thus both are true, namely, that all are under a curse who do not abide by all things, etc., and that those who rely on works of the Law are under a curse.

Martin Luther | Luther’s Works, Vol. 26: Lectures on Galatians, 1535, Chapters 1–4, ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann, vol. 26 (Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1999), 260–261.


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  1. A random thought from someone who hasn’t been able to study the issue as much as he would like:

    Could it be that the common picture of an “antinomian Luther” is Roman Catholic polemicism and 19th century German romanticism and liberal Protestant [?] critical scholarship feeding off of one another?

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