Kolb, Robert. The Book of Concord: The Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2000.
Epitome “VI Concerning the Third Use of the Law” pp. 502-503.
Solid Declaration “VI. Concerning the Third Use of the Law” pp. 587--591.
Article six of the Formula of Concord speaks of different uses of God’s law. It identifies the functions as maintenance of external discipline, conviction of sin, and guidance in righteous living. The third use has been a matter of debate, as some theologians deny that “the law is to be urged upon reborn Christians” (Kolb 2000, 502). The Formula confesses that even though Christians are set free from the law of God, they are not without the law. Redemption draws them to keep the law of God as it is good and leads them to reflect God’s image. This guards Christians from going astray. “In order that people do not resolve to perform service to God on the basis of their pious imagination in an arbitrary way of their own choosing, it is necessary for the law of God constantly to light their way” (Kolb 2000, 502). The Formula goes on to distinguish between the works of the law and the fruits of the Spirit, affirming that it is important to make such a distinction.
The Solid Declaration addresses the situation in much the same terms. As usual, we find a more thorough description of the dispute and hits history here than in the Epitome (Kolb 2000, 587). The Christian, in living a righteous life, will be doing the things of God’s Law. The Formula of Concord makes it clear that God’s law is uniformly considered a good thing in the Scripture (Kolb 2000, 588). Again, since Christians are not perfected in this world, they need God’s law to guide their wills. Multiple scripture passages are presented as evidence for Christians needing the guidance of God’s law. The Gospel works to redeem and give new life. The Law shows what is important to God, though it gives no ability to do what God values (Kolb 2000, 589). The goal of the Christian life is to continue in holiness and piety. God’s law provides us with information to evaluate our lives (Kolb 2000, 590).