Note: The Ten Commandments always accuse. That is their chief use. They also serve as a rough curb against gross outbreaks of sin. But they also function as the “true fountain” from which all good works must spring. We never have to try to invent or create works to do that are pleasing to God or go beyond what He has given us. In these Ten Commandments we have the guide we need to understand what truly pleases God. Some of Luther’s most powerful remarks about the difference between God’s Ten Commandments and man-made Church rules are found here. Luther thunders against the pomposity and false teaching that certain “Church works” are better in God’s eyes than the simple, humble, lowly works of common life, such as a young girl taking care of a little child. He provides a brief summary of the commandments and again shows how the First Commandment is the fountain for all the rest. God has given us a great treasure by giving us the Ten Commandments.
311 Now we have the Ten Commandments, a summary of divine teaching about what we are to do in order that our whole life may be pleasing to God. Everything that is to be a good work must arise and flow from and in this true fountain and channel. So apart from the Ten Commandments no work or thing can be good or pleasing to God, no matter how great or precious it is in the world’s eyes. 312 Let us see now what our great saints can boast of their spiritual orders and their great and mighty works. They have invented and set these things up, while they let these commandments go, as though they were far too insignificant or had long ago been perfectly fulfilled.
313 I am of the opinion, indeed, that here one will find his hands full ‹and will have enough› to do to keep these commandments: meekness, patience, love towards enemies, chastity, kindness, and other such virtues and their implications [Galatians 5:22–23]. But such works are not of value and make no display in the world’s eyes. For these are not peculiar and proud works. They are not restricted to particular times, places, rites, and customs. They are common, everyday, household works that one neighbor can do for another. Therefore, they are not highly regarded.
314 But the other works cause people to open their eyes and ears wide. Men aid this effect by the great display, expense, and magnificent buildings with which they adorn such works, so that everything shines and glitters. There they waft incense, they sing and ring bells, they light tapers and candles, so that nothing else can be seen or heard. For when a priest stands there in a surplice garment embroidered with gold thread, or a layman continues all day upon his knees in Church, that is regarded as a most precious work, which no one can praise enough. But when a poor girl tends a little child and faithfully does what she is told, that is considered nothing. For what else should monks and nuns seek in their cloisters?
315 Look, is not this a cursed overconfidence of those desperate saints who dare to invent a higher and better life and estate than the Ten Commandments teach? To pretend (as we have said) that this is an ordinary life for the common man, but theirs is for saints and perfect ones? 316 The miserable blind people do not see that no person can go far enough to keep one of the Ten Commandments as it should be kept. Both the Apostles’ Creed and the Lord’s Prayer must come to our aid (as we shall hear). By them ‹power and strength to keep the commandments› is sought and prayed for and received continually. Therefore, all their boasting amounts to as much as if I boasted and said, “To be sure, I don’t have a penny to make payment with, but I confidently will try to pay ten florins.”
317 All this I say and teach so that people might get rid of the sad misuse that has taken such deep root and still clings to everybody. In all estates upon earth they must get used to looking at these commandments only and to be concerned about these matters. For it will be a long time before they will produce a teaching or estate equal to the Ten Commandments, because they are so high that no one can reach them by human power. Whoever does reach them is a heavenly, angelic person, far above all holiness of the world. 318 Just occupy yourself with them. Try your best. Apply all power and ability. You will find so much to do that you will neither seek nor value any other work or holiness.
319 Let this be enough about the first part of the common Christian doctrine, both for teaching and urging what is necessary. In conclusion, however, we must repeat the text which belongs here. We have presented this already in the First Commandment, in order that we may learn what pains God requires so that we may learn to teach and do the Ten Commandments:
320 For I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate Me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love Me and keep My commandments. [Exodus 20:5–6]
321 As we have heard above, this appendix was primarily attached to the First Commandment. Yet it was laid down for the sake of all the commandments, since all of them are to be referred and directed to it. Therefore, I have said that this also should be presented to and taught to the young. Then they may learn and remember it, and we may see what must move and compel us to keep these Ten Commandments. This part is to be regarded as though it were specially added to each command, so that it dwells in, and runs through, them all.
322 Now, there is included in these words (as said before) both an angry, threatening word and a friendly promise. These are to terrify and warn us. They are also to lead and encourage us to receive and highly value His Word as a matter of divine sincerity. For God Himself declares how much He is concerned about it and how rigidly He will enforce it: He will horribly and terribly punish all who despise and transgress His commandments. 323 Also, He declares how richly He will reward, bless, and do all good to those who hold them in high value and gladly do and live according to them. So God demands that all our works proceed from a heart that fears and regards God alone. From such fear the heart avoids everything that is contrary to His will, lest it should move Him to wrath. And, on the other hand, the heart also trusts in Him alone and from love for Him does all He wants. For He speaks to us as friendly as a father and offers us all grace and every good.
324 This is exactly the meaning and true interpretation of the first and chief commandment, from which all the others must flow and proceed. So this word, “You shall have no other gods before Me” [Exodus 20:3], in its simplest meaning states nothing other than this demand: You shall fear, love, and trust in Me as your only true God. For where there is a heart set in this way before God, that heart has fulfilled this commandment and all the other commandments. On the other hand, whoever fears and loves anything else in heaven and upon earth will keep neither this nor any of the commandments. 325 So then all the Scriptures have everywhere preached and taught this commandment, aiming always at these two things: fear of God and trust in Him. The prophet David especially does this throughout the Psalms, as when he says “the Lord takes pleasure in those who fear Him, in those who hope in His steadfast love” [Psalm 147:11]. He writes as if the entire commandment were explained by one verse, as if to say, “The Lord takes pleasure in those who have no other gods.”
326 So the First Commandment is to shine and give its splendor to all the others. Therefore, you must let this declaration run through all the commandments. It is like a hoop in a wreath, joining the end to the beginning and holding them all together. Let it be continually repeated and not forgotten, as the Second Commandment says, so that we fear God and do not take His name in vain for cursing, lying, deceiving, and other ways of leading men astray, or trickery. But we make proper and good use of His name by calling upon Him in prayer, praise, and thanksgiving, derived from love and trust according to the First Commandment. In the same way such fear, love, and trust is to drive and force us not to despise His Word, but gladly to learn it, hear it, value it holy, and honor it.
327 So this teaching continues through all the following commandments toward our neighbor. Everything is to flow from the First Commandment’s power. We honor father and mother, masters, and all in authority, and are subject and obedient to them, not for their own sake, but for God’s sake. You are not to regard or fear father or mother, nor should you do or skip anything because you love them. But note what God would have you do, what He will quite surely demand of you. If you skip that, you have an angry Judge. But if you do the work, you have a gracious Father.
328 Again, do your neighbor no harm, injury, or violence, nor in any way oppress him with regard to his body, wife, property, honor, or rights. All these things are commanded in their order, even though you may have a chance and cause to do wrong and no person would rebuke you. But do good to all men [Galatians 6:10]. Help them and promote their interest—in every way and wherever you can—purely out of love for God and to please Him. Do this in the confidence that He will abundantly reward you for everything. 329 Now you see how the First Commandment is the chief source and fountainhead that flows into all the rest. Note again, all return to that First Commandment and depend upon it. So beginning and end are fastened and bound to each other.
330 This is always profitable and necessary to teach to the young people. Admonish them and remind them of it, so that they may be brought up not only with blows and compulsion, like cattle, but in the fear and reverence of God. Let this be considered and laid to heart that these things are not human games, but are the commandments of the Divine Majesty. He insists on them with great seriousness. He is angry with and punishes those who despise them. On the other hand, He abundantly rewards those who keep them. In this way there will be a spontaneous drive and a desire gladly to do God’s will. 331 Therefore, it is not meaningless that it is commanded in the Old Testament that we should write the Ten Commandments on all walls and corners, yes, even on our garments [Deuteronomy 6:8–9]. This is not for the sake of merely having them written in these places and making a show of them. The Jewish people did that. But it is so we might have our eyes constantly fixed on them. We should have them always in our memory. Then we might do them in all our actions and ways. 332 Then everyone may make them his daily exercise in all cases, in every business and transaction, as though they were written in every place wherever he would look, indeed, wherever he walks or stands. Then there would be enough opportunity—both at home in our own house and abroad with our neighbors—to do the Ten Commandments, so that no one would need to run far to find them.
333 From this it again appears how highly these Ten Commandments are to be exalted and extolled above all estates, commandments, and works that are taught and done apart from them. For here we can boast and say, “Let all the wise people and saints step forth and produce, if they can, a single work like these commandments. God insists on these with such seriousness. He commands them with His greatest wrath and punishment. Besides, He adds such glorious promises to them that He will pour out upon us all good things and blessings. Therefore, they should be taught above all others and be valued precious and dear, as the highest treasure given by God.”
Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions, 359-398 (Large Catechism I) ARTICLE II
Note: The Lutheran Reformation restored the proper biblical understanding of the chief purpose of the Law: to reveal mankind’s total corruption because of sin, driving people to seek salvation only in Christ. While the Law does hold outward sin (that is, gross outbursts of sin) in check, its chief purpose is to lead mankind to realize the damning consequences of original sin. The Roman Church had leaned far too heavily on pagan philosophy in developing its doctrine about sin. It had accepted the unscriptural notion that a person could truly keep the Law by means of his or her own abilities. This article also summarizes well the three different reactions of sinners to the Law.
1 Here we hold that the Law was given by God, first, to restrain sin by threats and the dread of punishment and by the promise and offer of grace and benefit. All this failed because of the evil that sin has worked in humanity. 2 For by the Law some people were made worse sinners, those who are hostile to the Law because it forbids what they like to do and commands what they do not like to do [Romans 3:20; 7:7–9]. Wherever they can escape punishment, they do more against the Law than they did before. Those are the unrestrained and wicked, who do evil wherever they have the opportunity.
3 The rest become blind and arrogant. As has been said above about the scholastic theologians, they conceive the opinion that they are able to keep the Law by their own powers. From this come the hypocrites and false saints.
4 But the chief office or force of the Law is to reveal original sin with all its fruit. It shows us how very low our nature has fallen, how we have become utterly corrupted. The Law must tell us that we have no God, that we do not care for God, and that we worship other gods [Romans 3:10–18]—something we would not have believed before and without the Law. In this way, we become terrified, humbled, depressed. We despair and anxiously want help, but see no escape [Romans 7:21–24]. We begin to be an enemy of God and to complain, and so on [Romans 5:10]. 5 This is what Paul says, “The law brings wrath” (Romans 4:15). Sin is increased by the Law, “The law came in to increase the trespass” (Romans 5:20).
Note: Luther puts forward the proper biblical teaching about repentance, which is the interplay between the Law and the Gospel. The Law reveals sin and drives us to cling to Christ alone. The Gospel, imparted by means of Word and Sacrament, comforts and soothes consciences. This interplay of the Law revealing sin and the Gospel forgiving and restoring is what true repentance is all about.
Luther condemns Rome’s false teaching about repentance, which assumes that original sin has not totally corrupted all human spiritual abilities. Roman theologians held that God bestows His grace on those who do as much as they can on the basis of their own free will. Rome’s entire penitential and sacramental system—in fact, the entire papal system—is based on this false view of human abilities in spiritual matters. They turn repentance into something other than what it is according to God’s Word; namely, repenting of sin and being turned again to Christ alone. In the Roman system of “penance” or repentance, not only must sorrow be present, but also satisfaction must be made for sin. This robs Christ of His place as full and complete satisfaction for all sins.
In this article, Luther also rejects more radical reformers who were teaching that once a person is saved, he or she is never in danger of falling. He points to David as an example of a person who did truly fall away and was again restored through the prophet’s preaching of Law and Gospel to him.
1 The New Testament keeps and urges this office ‹of the Law›, as St. Paul does when he says, “The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men” (Romans 1:18). Also, “the whole world may be accountable to God.… No human being will be justified in His sight” (Romans 3:19–20). And, Christ says, the Holy Spirit will convict the world of sin (John 16:8).
2 This is God’s thunderbolt. By the Law He strikes down both obvious sinners and false saints. He declares no one to be in the right, but drives them all together to terror and despair. This is the hammer. As Jeremiah says, “Is not My word like … a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?” (23:29). This is not active contrition or manufactured repentance. It is passive contrition, true sorrow of heart, suffering, and the sensation of death.
3 This is what true repentance means. Here a person needs to hear something like this, “You are all of no account, whether you are obvious sinners or saints ‹in your own opinions›. You have to become different from what you are now. You have to act differently than you are now acting, whether you are as great, wise, powerful, and holy as you can be. Here no one is godly.”
4 But to this office of the Law, the New Testament immediately adds the consoling promise of grace through the Gospel. This must be believed. As Christ declares, “Repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15). That is, become different, act differently, and believe My promise. 5 John the Baptist (preceding Christ) is called a preacher of repentance, but this is for the forgiveness of sins. 6 That is, John was to accuse all and convict them of being sinners. This is so they can know what they are before God and acknowledge that they are lost. So they can be prepared for the Lord [Mark 1:3] to receive grace and to expect and accept from Him the forgiveness of sins. This is what Christ Himself says, “Repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in [My] name to all nations” (Luke 24:47).
7 Whenever the Law alone exercises its office, without the Gospel being added, there is nothing but death and hell, and one must despair, as Saul and Judas did [1 Samuel 31; Matthew 27:5]. St. Paul says, through sin the Law kills. 8 [See Romans 7:10.] On the other hand, the Gospel brings consolation and forgiveness. It does so not just in one way, but through the Word and the Sacraments and the like, as we will discuss later. As Psalm 130:7 says against the dreadful captivity of sin, “with the Lord is … plentiful redemption.”
9 However, we now have to contrast the false repentance of the sophists with true repentance, in order that both may be understood better.
The False Repentance of the Papists
10 It was impossible for them to teach correctly about repentance, since they did not know what sin really is. As has been shown above, they do not believe correctly about original sin. Rather, they say that the natural powers of human beings have remained unimpaired and uncorrupted. They believe that reason can teach correctly, so that the will can do what is right, and God certainly bestows His grace when a person does as much as he can, according to his free will.
11 According to that dogma, they need to do penance only for actual sins. Those would include only the evil thoughts that a person yields to. Or evil words and evil deeds that free will could easily have prevented. (According to these people, wicked emotions, lust, and improper attitudes are not sins.)
12 They divide repentance into three parts: contrition, confession, and satisfaction. They add this consolation and promise: If a person truly confesses, and renders satisfaction, he merits forgiveness. He has paid for his sins before God. So even in repentance, they taught people to put confidence in their own works. 13 This is where the expression comes from that was used in the pulpit when Public Absolution was announced to the people: “Prolong O God, my life, until I can make satisfaction for my sins and amend my life.”
14 There was here no mention of Christ and faith. People hoped to overcome and blot out sins before God by their own works. With this intention, we became priests and monks, so we could protect ourselves against sin.
15 As for contrition, this is how it was done. No one could remember all his sins (especially those committed over an entire year), so they inserted this provision: If an unknown sin is remembered later, it too has to be repented of and confessed, and so on. Until then, the person was commended to God’s grace.
16 Furthermore, since no one could know how great the contrition ought to be in order to be enough before God, they gave this consolation: He who could not have contrition at least ought to have “attrition.” I call that half a contrition, or the beginning of contrition. The fact is, they themselves do not understand either of these terms, anymore than I do. But such attrition was counted as contrition when a person went to Confession.
17 If anyone said that he could not have contrition or lament his sins (as might be the case with illicit love or the desire for revenge, etc.), they asked whether he wished or desired to have contrition. When one would reply “yes”—for who, save the devil himself, would say “no”?—they accepted this as contrition. They forgave him his sins on account of this good work of his. Here they cited the example of St. Bernard and others.
18 Here one sees how blind reason gropes around in matters belonging to God [1 Corinthians 2:14]. According to its own imagination, reason seeks consolation in its own works and cannot remember Christ and faith. Viewed in the light, this contrition is a manufactured and fictitious thought. It comes from our own powers, without faith and without the knowledge of Christ. When he reflected on his own lust and desire for revenge, the poor sinner might have laughed rather than wept—unless he had either been truly struck by the lightning of the Law [Psalm 77:18] or had been tormented by the devil with a sorrowful spirit [1 Samuel 16:14]. With everyone else, such contrition was certainly mere hypocrisy and did not put to death the lust for sins. They had to grieve, but if they were free, they would rather have kept on sinning.
19As for Confession, the procedure was this: Everyone had to list all his sins (which is impossible). This was a great torment. If anyone had forgotten some sins, he would be absolved on the condition that, if they would occur to him, he must still confess them. So he could never know whether he had made a sufficiently pure confession or if confessing would ever come to an end. Yet he was pointed to his own works. He was comforted like this: The more fully you confess, and the more you humiliate yourself and debase yourself before the priest, the sooner and better you render satisfaction for your sins. Such humility would certainly earn grace before God.
20 Here, too, there was neither faith nor Christ. The power of the Absolution was not declared to him. Rather, his consolation depended upon his listing of sins and his self-abasement. What torture, fraud, and idolatry this kind of confession has produced is more than can be said.
21 As for satisfaction, this is by far the most complex part of all. For no one can know how much to render for a single sin, let alone how much for all. They resorted to the device of imposing a small satisfaction, which could indeed be rendered, as five Fathers,” a day’s fast, or such. Then, for the rest of their repentance, they were directed to purgatory.
22 Here, too, there was nothing but anguish and misery. Some thought they would never get out of purgatory. According to the old Church laws, seven years’ penance in purgatory is required for a single mortal sin. 23 Yet, confidence was placed in our work of satisfaction. If the satisfaction could be perfect, confidence would be placed in it entirely. Neither faith nor Christ would be necessary. But such confidence was impossible. For even though someone had done penance that way for a hundred years, he would still not know whether he had finished his penance. That meant doing penance forever and never coming to repentance.
24 Then the Holy See at Rome, coming to the aid of the poor Church, invented indulgences. With these, it forgave and remitted satisfaction. First, for a single sin, an indulgence could cancel seven years in purgatory. Or an indulgence could cancel a hundred years. They distributed them among the cardinals and bishops, so that one could grant indulgence for a hundred years and another for a hundred days. But the pope reserved to himself alone the power to cancel the entire satisfaction.
25 Since indulgences began to yield money and as the traffic in bulls became profitable, the pope devised the golden jubilee year‹—a truly gold-bearing year—› and established it at Rome [compare to Leviticus 25]. He said this would give the cancellation of all punishment and guilt. The people came running, because everyone would gladly be freed from this grievous, unbearable burden. This was meant to find and raise the treasures of the earth. Immediately, the pope pressed still further and multiplied the golden years one after another. The more he devoured money, the bigger his appetite grew.
Later, by his representatives to the countries, the pope issued ‹his golden years› everywhere, until all churches and houses were full of the golden year. 26 Ultimately, he made an inroad into purgatory, among the dead. First, he founded Masses and vigils, and, afterward, indulgences and the golden year. Finally, souls became so cheap that he released one for a penny.
27 But all this, too, did nothing. Even though the pope taught people to depend on and trust these indulgences for salvation, he made the matter uncertain again. In his bulls he declares that whoever wants to share in the indulgences or a golden year has to be contrite and have confessed and pay money. We have already seen how, with the papacy, contrition and confession are uncertain and hypocritical. Besides, no one knew what soul was in purgatory. If some souls were in purgatory, no one knew who had properly repented and confessed. So the pope took the precious money, comforting people with his power and indulgence. But then he directed them again to their uncertain works.
28 Now some did not believe themselves guilty of actual sins in thought, word, and deeds. I, and people like me in monasteries and religious communities, wanted to be monks and priests. We fought against evil thoughts by doing such things as fasting, staying awake, praying, saying Mass, wearing coarse garments, and sleeping on hard beds. In total sincerity and with great effort, we wanted to be holy. Yet the hereditary, inborn evil sometimes came out in sleep, as happens (St. Augustine and St. Jerome, among others, also confess this). Still, each one held the other in high esteem. According to our teaching, some monks were regarded as holy, without sin, and full of good works. Also, since we had more good works than we needed to get to heaven, we could communicate and sell our good works to others. This is actually true. Seals, letters, and examples are at hand ‹to prove that this happened›.
29 These holy ones did not need repentance. What would they repent of, since they had not indulged their wicked thoughts? What would they confess about words they never said? What should they render satisfaction for, since they were so guiltless that they could even sell their extra righteousness to poor sinners? In the time of Christ, the Pharisees and scribes were these kinds of saints [Matthew 23].
30 But here comes the fiery angel of St. John [Revelation 10], the true preacher of repentance. With one bolt of lightning, he hurls together both ‹those selling and those buying works›. He says: “Repent!”[ Matthew 3:2].
31 Now one group imagines, “Why, we have repented!” The other says, “We need no repentance.”
32 John says, “Repent, both of you. You false penitents and false saints, both of you need the forgiveness of sins. Neither of you know what sin really is. Much less your duty to repent of it and shun it. For no one of you is good. You are full of unbelief, stupidity, and ignorance of God and God’s will. But He is present here, of whose ‘fullness we have all received, grace upon grace’ ” [John 1:16]. Without Him, no one can be righteous before God. Therefore, if you want to repent, repent rightly. Your works of penance will accomplish nothing. As for you hypocrites, who do not need repentance, you serpents’ brood, who has assured you that you will escape the wrath to come and other judgments?” [Matthew 3:7; Luke 3:7].
33 In the same way Paul also preaches, “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one” (Romans 3:10–12). 34 And God now “commands all people everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30). “All people,” He says. No one is an exception who is a human being. 35 This repentance teaches us to discern sin: We are completely lost; there is nothing good in us from head to foot; and we must become absolutely new and different people.
36 Such repentance is not partial and beggarly, like that which does penance for actual sins. Nor, like that, is it uncertain. For it does not debate what is or is not sin. Rather, it hurls everything together and says: Everything in us is nothing but sin ‹there is nothing in us that is not sin and guilt [Romans 7:18]›. What is the use of always investigating, dividing, or distinguishing? This contrition is certain. For we cannot think of any good thing to pay for sin. There is nothing left. There is only a sure despairing about all that we are, think, speak, do, and so on.
37 Confession, too, cannot be false, uncertain, or fragmentary. A person who confesses that everything in him is nothing but sin includes all sins, excludes none, forgets none. 38 Neither can the satisfaction be uncertain, because it is not our uncertain, sinful work. Rather, it is the suffering and blood of the innocent Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world [John 1:29].
39 This is the repentance John the Baptist preaches [Matthew 3:1–12]. And afterward, Christ does this in the Gospel [Mark 1:15], and so do we. By this preaching of repentance, we dash to the ground the pope and everything built upon our good works. For all of that is built upon a rotten and vain foundation, which is called a good work or law. And yet, this foundation has no good works but only wicked works. No one keeps the Law (as Christ says) but all transgress it (John 7:19). Therefore, the building ‹that is raised upon that rotten foundation› is nothing but falsehood and hypocrisy, even where it seems most holy and beautiful.
40 In Christians, this repentance continues until death. For through one’s entire life, repentance contends with the sin remaining in the flesh. Paul testifies that he wars with the law in his members (Romans 7:14–25) not by his own powers, but by the gift of the Holy Spirit that follows the forgiveness of sins [Romans 8:1–17]. This gift daily cleanses and sweeps out the remaining sins and works to make a person truly pure and holy.
41 The pope, the theologians, the Church lawyers, and the rest know nothing about this. But it is a doctrine from heaven (revealed through the Gospel), and the godless saints must call it heresy.
42 On the other hand, certain sects may arise; some may already exist. During the peasant rebellion, I encountered some who held that those who had once received the Spirit or the forgiveness of sins or had become believers—even if they later sin—would still remain in the faith. Such sin, they think, would not harm them. They say, “Do whatever you please. If you believe, it all amounts to nothing. Faith blots out all sins,” and such. They also say that if anyone sins after he has received faith and the Spirit, he never truly had the Spirit and faith. I have seen and heard many such madmen. I fear that such a devil is still in some of them.
43 So it is necessary to know and to teach this: When holy people—still having and feeling original sin and daily repenting and striving against it—happen to fall into manifest sins (as David did into adultery, murder, and blasphemy [2 Samuel 11]), then faith and the Holy Spirit have left them. 44 The Holy Spirit does not permit sin to have dominion, to gain the upper hand so it can be carried out, but represses and restrains it from doing what it wants [Psalm 51:11; Romans 6:14]. If sin does what it wants, the Holy Spirit and faith are not present. 45 For St. John says, “No one born of God makes a practice of sinning … and he cannot keep on sinning” [1 John 3:9]. And yet it is also true when St. John says, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” [1:8].
Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions, 271-278 (Smalcald Articles III.II-III)