The Captive Conscience

[God] leads out the prisoners to prosperity, but the rebellious dwell in a parched land.
PSALM 68:6
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The Captive Conscience
He who feels no sin will not be impelled to seek grace; he will pay no attention either to the Gospel or to faith. Therefore the Law is conscience's jailer, chains, fetters, and prison. The Law points to sin and exposes it, and thus it takes conscience captive (Romans 4:15; 7:7, 8). God does not deliver us from these bonds whenever we deem it necessary, but He permits us to be humbled and tormented in them until we thirst for grace. Now He comes and gives us His Word, to which we cling, and leads us out of captivity. Thus we escape a terrified and despondent conscience, and we get a good and sure conscience. That is the twofold work and performance of Christ in us: He kills us, and He resurrects us; He humbles us, and He exalts us, each in His good season. . ..

From Commentary on Psalm 68 (Luther's Works 13:7-8)
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