“How are we made right in the sight of God?” “How can I find peace with God?” “How can I right the many wrongs I have done in my life?” Left to answer these and similar questions from reason or some other faculty, man inevitably conjures up some sort of works, either to accomplish or from which to refrain, in hopes of finding peace with God. All human efforts to find favor in the eyes of God surely fail, as we are all corrupt in heart and soul, word and deed, thought and desire. Martin Luther rightly recognized from the Bible that the answer to all of these questions is found only in Christ Jesus, in whom (by faith) is our hope, peace, trust, joy, and salvation. He writes:
As St. Peter says, we acquire a new and clean heart, and God will and does account us entirely righteous and holy for the sake of Christ, our Mediator. And although sin in the flesh has not yet been altogether removed or become dead, yet He will not punish or remember it.
And such faith, renewal, and forgiveness of sins is followed by good works. And what there is still sinful or imperfect also in them shall not be accounted as sin or defect, even [and that, too] for Christ’s sake; but the entire man, both as to his person and his works, is to be called and to be righteous and holy from pure grace and mercy, shed upon us [unfolded] and spread over us in Christ. Therefore we cannot boast of many merits and works, if they are viewed apart from grace and mercy, but as it is written, 1 Cor. 1:31: He that glories, let him glory in the Lord, namely, that he has a gracious God. For thus all is well. We say, besides, that if good works do not follow, faith is false and not true. (Smalcald Articles, XIII)
The simple truth of the Christian faith must never be obscured and can never be compromised.