41 Paul says, "You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace" (Galatians 5:4). 42 Therefore, anyone wanting to be justified by his vows makes Christ useless and falls from grace. 43 Anyone who tries to connect justification to monastic vows bases his justification on his own works, which properly belongs to Christ's glory. 44 It cannot be denied that the monks have taught that they were justified and merited forgiveness of sins by means of their vows and observances. Indeed, they even invented greater absurdities, saying that they could give others a share in their works. 45 If anyone wanted to make more of this point, to make our opponents look even worse, even more things could be mentioned, things that even the monks are ashamed of now. 46 And on top of all this, the monks persuaded people that the services that they invented were a state of Christian perfection. 47 What else is this other than assigning our justification to works? 48 It is no light offense in the Church to set before the people a service invented by people, without God's commandment, and then to teach them that such service justifies. For the righteousness of faith, which ought to be the highest teaching in the Church, is hidden when these "wonderful" and "angelic" forms of worship, with their show of poverty, humility, and celibacy, are put in front of people. 49 God's precepts, and God's true service, are hidden when people hear that only monks are in a state of perfection. True Christian perfection is to fear God from the heart, to have great faith, and to trust that for Christ's sake we have a God who has been reconciled [2 Corinthians 5:18-19]. It means to ask for and expect from God His help in all things with confident assurance that we are to live according to our calling in life, being diligent in outward good works, serving in our calling.
Condensed from CONCORDIA: THE LUTHERAN CONFESSIONS, copyright 2005,2006 by Concordia Publishing House. Used by permission. All rights reserved. To purchase a copy of CONCORDIA, call 800-325-3040.
Lord grant you faith in His grace alone for your salvation unto eternal life. Amen