Some comments in an earlier post raised the question as to if our good works are sin. We now receive some clarity!
“Conscience does not find peace through any work. Here it is only the gospel which is fully effective. In addition it is also necessary to know that one’s works are those God has commanded. Vocation gives steadiness and strength before men, because righteousness in vocation, according to earthly rules, is a real rigteousness, which before men we are not to despise or label as sin. But before God, on the other hand, even the most righteous work is serious sin, which stands in need of forgiveness, since it proceeds from an evil heart. Against such an evil heart other men have no right to complain, if behavior is honest and not mastered by the evil of that heart. But God passes judgment on the inner, resisted, invisible evil. Only the gospel, not one’s vocation, can remove that judgment against the sinful heart and gives peace to the conscience” (Gustav Wingren, Luther on Vocation trans. Carl C. Rasmussen (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2004), 76).