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Calvin - Institutes of the Christian Religion Book3 Chapter16

Calvin - Institutes of the Christian Religion Book3 Chapter16

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This, in one word, is enough to refute the shamelessness of certain
impious persons who slanderously charge us with abolishing good works,
and with seducing men from the pursuit of them, when we say that men
are not justified by works and do not merit salvation by them; and again,
charge us with making the path to righteousness too easy when we teach
that justification lies in free remission of sins; and, by this enticement,
with luring into sin men who are already too much inclined to it of their
own accord.F420 These false charges, I say, are sufficiently refuted by that
simple statement. Still, I shall briefly reply to each. They contend that
through the justification of faith, good works are destroyed.

I forbear to say what sort of zealots for good works they are who thus

carp at us. Let them rail with impunity even as they wantonly infect the whole world with their own foul lives! They pretend to be grieved that, when faith is so gloriously extolled, works are degraded. What if, rather, these were encouraged and strengthened? For we dream neither of a faith

devoid of good works nor of a justification that stands without them. This
alone is of importance: having admitted that faith and good works must
cleave together, we still lodge justification in faith, not in works. We have a
ready explanation for doing this, provided we turn to Christ to whom our
faith is directed and from whom it receives its full strength.

Why, then, are we justified by faith? Because by faith we grasp Christ\u2019s
righteousness, by which alone we are reconciled to God. Yet you could not
grasp this without at the same time grasping sanctification also.F421 For he
\u201cis given unto us for righteousness, wisdom, sanctification, and


redemption\u201d [<460130> 1 Corinthians 1:30]. Therefore Christ justifies no one
whom he does not at the same time sanctify. These benefits are joined
together by an everlasting and indissoluble bond, so that those whom he
illumines by his wisdom, he redeems; those whom he redeems, he justifies;
those whom he justifies, he sanctifies.

But, since the question concerns only righteousness and sanctification, let
us dwell upon these. Although we may distinguish them, Christ contains
both of them inseparably in himself. Do you wish, then, to attain
righteousness in Christ? You must first possess Christ; but you cannot
possess him without being made partaker in his sanctification, because he
cannot be divided into pieces [<460113> 1 Corinthians 1:13]. Since, therefore,
it is solely by expending himself that the Lord gives us these benefits to
enjoy, he bestows both of them at the same time, the one never without
the other. Thus it is clear how true it is that we are justified not without
works yet not through works, since in our sharing in Christ, which
justifies us, sanctification is just as much included as righteousness.

This charge is also very false: that men\u2019s hearts are seduced from desiring
to do good when we take from them their regard for merit. Here, in
passing, my readers must be warned that our opponents stupidly reason
from reward to merit, as I shall afterward explain more clearly.F422 For
they obviously do not know the principle that God is no less generous
when he assigns a reward for works than when he bestows the capacity to
act rightly. But I prefer to postpone this to its proper place.

Now it will be enough to touch upon how weak their objection is. This
will be done in two ways. For first, in saying men will take no care to
regulate their lives aright unless hope of reward is held out to them, they
are completely in error.F423 For if it is only a matter of men looking for
reward when they serve God, and hiring or selling their labor to him, it is
of little profit. God wills to be freely worshiped, freely loved. That
worshiper, I say, he approves who, when all hope of receiving reward has
been cut off, still ceases not to serve him.


Indeed, if men have to be aroused, no one can put sharper spurs to them
than those derived from the end of our redemption and calling. Such spurs
the Word of the Lord employs when it teaches that it would bespeak our
too impious ingratitude for us not to reciprocate the love of him \u201cwho first
loved us\u201d [<620419> 1 John 4:19; cf. 5:10]; that by Christ\u2019s blood our

consciences are cleansed from dead works, that we should serve the living

God [<580914> Hebrews 9:14];ethat it is an unworthy, unholy act for us,
once cleansed, to contaminate ourselves with new filth, and to profane that
sacred blood [<581029> Hebrews 10:29]; that \u201cwe have been delivered from
the hand of our enemies in order that we may serve him without fear in
holiness and righteousness before him all our days\u201d [<420174> Luke 1:74-75
p.]; that we have been freed from sin to cultivate righteousness with a free
spirit [<450618> Romans 6:18]; that \u201cour old man was crucified\u201d
[<450606> Romans 6:6], that \u201cwe... may arise to newness of life\u201d
[<450604> Romans 6:4 p.]. Likewise, if we be dead with Christ, as befits his
members, we must seek the things that are above, and be pilgrims on earth,
so that we may aspire to heaven where our treasure is [cf.

<510301>Colossians 3:1-3; also <400620>Matthew 6:20]. In this \u201cthe grace of

the Lord has appeared, that, having renounced all irreligion and worldly
desires, we may live sober, holy, and godly lives in this age, awaiting our
blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior.\u201d

[<560211> Titus 2:11-13 p.] Therefore we were not appointed to rouse wrath

against ourselves but to obtain salvation through Christ [<520509> 1
Thessalonians 5:9]. We are temples of the Holy Spirit, which it is
unlawful to profane [<460316> 1 Corinthians 3:16-17;<470616> 2 Corinthians
6:16;<490221> Ephesians 2:21]. We are not darkness but light in the Lord,
and must walk as children of light [<490508> Ephesians 5:8-9; cf.<520504> 1
Thessalonians 5:4-5]. We have not been called to uncleanness but to
holiness [<520407> 1 Thessalonians 4:7], for this is the will of God, our
sanctification, that we abstain from unlawful desires [<520403> 1
Thessalonians 4:3]. Ours is a holy calling [<550109> 2 Timothy 1:9]. It
demands purity of life and nothing less; we have been freed from sin to
this end, that we may obey righteousness [<450618> Romans 6:18]. Could we
be aroused to love by any livelier argument than that of John\u2019s: that \u201cwe
love one another as God has loved us\u201d [<620411> 1 John 4:11; cf.<431334> John

13:34]? that herein his children differ from the devil\u2019s children as children
of light from children of darkness, because they abide in love [<620310> 1

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