Luther Quote of the Day

See what a careful expositor of the First Commandment Moses is. Above he had taught the true worship of God in faith, fear, and love of the Spirit; here he has come to the outward work. But first he issues a salutary warning, lest they complete in the flesh what they had begun in the Spirit, and be puffed up by their own work. Then, when the godless and the idols were outwardly destroyed, they would themselves become more godless and would set up worse idols in the heart, namely, trust and glory in the deed (as the flesh is wont); and thus a beautiful work would cause them to sin more gravely against the First Commandment than the very Gentiles whom they had slain. So he keeps them at the rightful use of the Law by wholly removing boasting and trust in works, and he calls them to trust in grace alone, saying: “Not because all the nations, etc.” as though he were saying: “The fact that God uses your sword does not happen because He needs your power or because He cannot do it without you, since you are very few in number. The glory of the work is not yours, but His, who by using your small number destroys such a great multitude. Otherwise, if He had wanted to conquer with a multitude, He would not have chosen you but other peoples who are much more numerous than you.”

What, then, is left in this work about which you can boast? Nothing of yours; but “because the Lord [he says] chose you and kept His oath, etc.” (v. 8). You see that nothing is held out to human trust in any work but the undeserved love of God, by which He is moved to approach us with His Word and promise even before we are born. It is out of the question that He should requite anything after we are born or begin to serve Him. And this is the pure and unalloyed meaning of the First Commandment: We should deem ourselves to be nothing as regards our merit, but to have, receive, and find power to do everything only by His mercy and love, to His glory—mercy which He first promises by His Word and then also confirms afterward by a work which He does through us, as by a sign, just as here He cites the Exodus from Egypt and the destruction of the Canaanites

Luther’s works, vol. 9: Lectures on Deuteronomy 1525

p 84-85

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