Sunday, March 17, 2013

Unattractive Works

That the works of God are unattractive is clear from what is said in Isa. 53[:2], "He had no form or comeliness," and in 1 Sam. 2[:6] "The Lord kills and brings to life; he brings down to Sheol and raises up." This is understood to mean that the Lord humbles and frightens us by means of the law and the sight of our sins so that we seem in the eyes of men, as in our own, as nothing, foolish, and wicked, for we are in truth that. Insofar as we acknowledge and confess this, there is no form or beauty in us, but our life is hidden in God (i.e., in the bare confidence in his mercy), finding in ourselves nothing but sin, foolishness, death, and hell, according to that verse of the Apostle in 2 Cor. 6[:9-10] "As sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as dying and behold we live." And that it is which Isa. 28[:2] calls the alien work of God that he may do his work (that is, he humbles us thoroughly, making us despair, so that he may exalt us in his mercy, giving us hope), just as Hab. 3[:2] states, "In wrath remember mercy." Such a man therefore is displeased with all his works; he sees no beauty, but only his depravity. Indeed, he also does those things that appear foolish and disgusting to others.

This depravity, however, comes into being in us either when God punishes us or when we accuse ourselves, as 1 Cor. 11[:31] says, "If we judged ourselves truly, we should not be judged" by the Lord. Deut. 32[:36] also states, "The Lord will vindicate his people and have compassion on his servants." In this way, consequently, the unattractive works that God does in us, that is, those that are humble and devout, are really eternal, for humility and fear of God are our entire merit.

Luther's Works 31.44 as quoted by Gerhard O. Forde in On Being a Theologian of the Cross, 33-34.

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