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Promise and Command

February 28, 2020
By Martin Luther

"For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promise you." Then Jacob awoke from his sleep.

GENESIS 28:15-16

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Promise and Command

It is clear and manifest enough that there is a difference between the Word, which promises, and the commandment, which orders to do something. Therefore the legends of the saints and all life should be divided into these two parts: the Word of God and our work. The former belongs to God alone; the latter is ours, namely, love, patience, and the castigating and crucifying of the flesh. This is a life; but it is a life of works, and it does not take hold of the sanctity of the Word, which is the soul of life. Therefore the Word has to precede; for it is the Word and promise of God, who blesses, promises, receives us into grace, and forgives sins. This surely must precede: "Your sins are forgiven you; I am your God; do not fear the devil; I am with you; I will protect you; I will not forsake you." But after the forgiveness of sins this follows: "Take up your bed and go home" (Matthew 9:6). This precedes: "Take heart, My son"; that is, "First acknowledge Me as propitious, as placated, as being favorable, and as absolving you. First receive My blessing, in order that you may be freed from sin and death. Afterward, when you have been healed, take up your bed and walk; teach, and do works." Thus after Jacob has first been strengthened in faith because of grace and the blessing, he walks, works, and suffers, as is stated in what follows: "He awoke from his sleep, etc."

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