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By Grace Alone, Not by Merit

December 29, 2018
By Martin Luther

For Your name's sake, O LORD, preserve my life! In Your righteousness bring my soul out of trouble! And in Your steadfast love You will cut off my enemies.

PSALM 143:11-12

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By Grace Alone, Not by Merit

For Thy name's sake, O Lord, preserve my life! That is, that Thy name may be honored. God's name is honored when men declare that He gives life and righteousness by grace without merit. Then one can say: God is kind, gracious, merciful. These are His names that are to be praised. But the self-righteous honor their own names. They want to have life through their own righteousness. Therefore they despise the righteousness of God, which He grants the sinner by grace and by which He makes him alive in His freely given righteousness and in His truth. In Thy righteousness bring me out of trouble! He not only prays to be preserved in the face of his enemies, those who consider themselves great in their righteousness, but also to be led out from among them at last. For although the righteous are preserved among their enemies, yet they are like captives among them until they are brought out from them, or the enemies are converted. This God would do because of His righteousness, not that He seeks His own honor in this deliverance but that men may learn how God establishes the righteousness of faith in opposition to works. And in Thy steadfast love cut off my enemies. That is, on account of Thy mercy and grace, so that it may be praised and acknowledged.

From Seven Penitential Psalms, on Psalm 143 (Luther's Works 14:203)

December 29

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