By Grace You Have Been Saved — Luther

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.  Ephesians 2:8, 9

God does not condemn or save any individual on account of his works. This is not the fault of our works, but of our nature. The person, nature and entire existence are corrupt in us because of Adam’s fall. Therefore no work can be good in us, until our nature and personal life is changed and renewed.

The tree is not good, therefore the fruits are bad. No one can become righteous by works or laws; all works and efforts to become righteous and be saved are in vain as long as the nature and the person are not renewed. God will have us clearly understand that the fault lies entirely in the state of our nature, that its birth and origin are corrupt and sinful. This is original sin, or the sin of the nature, or the sin of the person, the real, chief sin.

If this sin did not exist, there would be no actual sin. This sin is not committed like other sins; but it exists, lives, and commits all other sins, it is the essential sin, that sins not for an hour or a season, but wherever the person is and as long as he lives.

God looks at this sin of the nature alone. This can be eradicated by no law, no punishment; the grace of God alone, which makes the nature pure and new, must purge it away. The law only makes it manifest and teaches how to recognize it, but does not save from it; the law only restrains the hand or member, it connote restrain the person and nature from being sinful.

Just as little as it lies in one’s power to be born and to receive natural existence, so little does it lie in his own power to be without sin or to escape from it. He who created us must take it away. Therefore He first gives the law by which man recognizes this sin and thirsts for grace; then He also gives the gospel and saves him.

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