Shouldn't Christians treat all sins equally

Luther's pamphlet "On the freedom of a Christian"

On the freedom of a Christian (Latin title: De libertate christiana) is one of the central writings of Martin Luther. He wrote the 30 theses in 1520 in response to the papal bull threatening him with excommunication, "Exsurge Domine".

I, by the name of Doctor Martin Luther, Augustinian, offer my willing service and all the best to the careful and wise Herr Hieronymus Mühlpfordt, Mayor of Zwickau, my special, kind friend and patron.

Careful, wise lord and well-meaning friend, the venerable Magister Johannes Egranus, preacher of your praiseworthy city, has praised me for your love and lust, which you have for the Holy Scriptures, which you also zealously confess and praise in front of the people. Since he would like to introduce me to you, I am easily ready and happily won over to it; for it gives me a special pleasure to hear where the divine truth is loved, which unfortunately so many - and most of all those who boast of its title - resist with all violence and cunning. But it must be so that in Christ, who is set as a sign and a stumbling block, many stumble, fall and rise. That is why, in order to make the beginning of our acquaintance and friendship, I wanted to dedicate this treatise, this sermon, to you in German, which I dedicated to the Pope in Latin. With this I have indicated to everyone the reason for my teaching and my writing on the papacy, which I hope is irreproachable. I hereby commend myself and all of you to divine grace. Amen.

To Wittenberg. 1520


For the first.

So that we can thoroughly understand what a Christian is and what it is like with the freedom that Christ has acquired and given him, of which Paul writes a lot, I want to make these two sentences:

A Christian is a free lord over all things and is not subject to anyone.

A Christian is a subservient servant of all things and is subject to everyone.

These two sentences are clear from Paul: 1 Corinthians 9. I am free in all things and have made myself servant to everyone. Likewise Rom 13 I owe nothing to anyone except that you love one another. But love, it is subservient and subject to what it loves. Likewise it says of Christ Gal 4: God sent his Son, born of a woman, and made subject to the law.

Second.

To understand these two contradicting expressions of freedom and servitude, we must remember that every Christian is of two natures, spiritual and physical. After the soul he is called a spiritual, new, inner man, after flesh and blood he is called a physical, old and outer man. Because of this difference, sentences are said in Scripture that strictly contradict each other, just as I have now spoken of freedom and servitude.

For the third.

First we take the inner, spiritual man to see what it takes for him to be and be called a right, free Christian person. Here it is evident that no external thing can make him free and right, whatever it may be called. Because his rightfulness and his freedom, as well as vice versa his malice and his imprisonment, are neither bodily nor external. How does it help the soul that the body is not trapped, fresh and healthy, eats, drinks, lives as it wants? Conversely, what harm does it to the soul that the body is trapped, sick and weak, hungry, thirsty and suffering in a way that it does not voluntarily do? None of these things come close to the soul to set it free or to catch it, to make it right or bad.

For the fourth.

Accordingly, it does not help the soul if the body puts on holy clothes, as the priests and clergymen do, not even when it is in churches and in holy places. Nor when he deals with sacred things. And also not when he bodily prays, fasts, makes a pilgrimage and does all good works that could eternally happen through and in the body. There must be something completely different that brings and gives justice and freedom to the soul. Because all the mentioned pieces, activities and ways of acting can also be carried out by an evil person, a blender and hypocrite. Such a being creates a people of hypocrites. Conversely, it does not harm the soul if the body wears unholy clothes, is in unholy places, does not eat, drink, go on a pilgrimage and pray and let all the works that the aforementioned hypocrites do.

For the fifth.

The soul has nothing else, neither in heaven nor on earth, in which it can live, be right, free and Christian, than the holy gospel, the word of God preached by Christ. As he himself says in John 11: I am the life and the resurrection. Whoever believes in me lives forever. Likewise John 17: I am the way, the truth and the life. Likewise Mt. 4: Man does not live from bread alone, but from all the words that go out of the mouth of God. Therefore we must now be certain that the soul can do without all things except for the word of God, and without God's word it is not helped by anything. But when she has the word, she doesn't need anything else either, but has enough in the word, food, joy, peace, light, knowledge, justice, truth, wisdom, freedom and all that is good in abundance. Accordingly, we read in the Psalter, especially in Ps 119, that the prophet cries out for nothing but God's word. And in the scriptures it is held to be the greatest plague and wrath of God when he takes his word from men. Conversely, for no greater grace, if he sends his word, as it is in Ps 106: He sent out his word, with it he has helped them. And Christ came for no other office than to preach the word of God. All apostles, bishops, priests and the entire clergy are also called and appointed solely for the sake of the word of God - although unfortunately it is now different.

For the sixth.

But do you ask: what is the word of God that gives such great grace? And how should I use it? The answer is: It is none other than the sermon of Christ that happened as it is contained in the Gospel. It should be and happens so that you hear your God speak to you, that all your life and your deeds are nothing before God, but that you have to perish forever with everything that is in you. If you believe correctly what you are obliged to do, then you will despair of yourself and you will confess that Hosea's word is true: O Israel, in you there is nothing but your destruction, but in me alone is your help. But so that you can get out of yourself and from yourself, that is, out of your ruin, he puts his dear Son Jesus Christ in front of you and lets you say through his living, comforting word: You should submit yourself to them with firm faith and fresh trust in him. So for the sake of this faith all your sins should be forgiven you and all your ruin should be overcome, and you should be just, truthful, pacified, upright; and all the commandments are to be fulfilled, and you are to be free from all things. As Paul Rom. 1 says: A justified Christian lives only by his faith. And Rom. 10: Christ is the end and the consummation of all commandments for those who believe in him.

For the seventh.

That is why it should be the only work and practice of all Christians by right that they form the word and Christ rightly in themselves, constantly practice and strengthen such faith. Because no other work can do a Christian. As Christ Jn 6 said to the Jews, when they asked him what works they should do, that they should do godly and Christian works, he said: This is the only work that pleases God that you believe in him whom God sent which God alone has also determined to be. That is why a right faith in Christ is a very exuberant riches, because he brings with him all bliss and takes away all unhappiness. As it says in Mark 16: Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved. Those who do not believe will be damned. That is why the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 10) saw the riches of faith and said: God will make a short end on earth and at this short end righteousness will flow in like a flood. That is to say: Faith, in which the fulfillment of all commandments consists briefly and concisely, will justify all those who have it in abundance, so that they no longer need anything to be just and good. Paul also says in Romans 10: Believing from the heart makes a person just and good.

To the eighth.

But how does it come about that faith alone can justify and give so abundant wealth without all works, since so many laws, commandments and works, orders and modes of action are prescribed for us in Scripture? Here it must be carefully observed and seriously stated that faith alone, without all works, makes just, free and blessed, as we shall hear more later. And it is important to know that all of the scriptures are divided into two kinds of words, namely: command or law of God and promise or promise. The commandments teach and prescribe many good works, but they have not yet been done. They give instructions, but they do not help; they teach what to do, but don't give you the strength to do it. Therefore they are only arranged so that the person in them recognizes his inability to do good and learns to despair of himself. That is why they are also called the Old Testament and they all belong in the Old Testament. For example, the commandment proves: You should have no evil desire, that we are all sinners, and that no person can be without evil desire, he does what he wants. From this he learns to despair of himself and to seek help elsewhere, so that he is without evil desire, and thus fulfill the commandment through someone else, what he cannot do by himself. And in the same way all other commandments are impossible for us to fulfill.

For the ninth.

If man has now learned and felt his inability from the commandments, so that he is now afraid of how he will comply with the commandment - especially since the commandment must be fulfilled or he must be condemned - then he is quite humiliated and in nullified in his own eyes: he finds nothing in himself by which he could do justice. Then, however, the other word comes, the divine promise and promise, and says: If you want to fulfill all the commandments, get rid of your evil desires and sin, as the commandments compel and demand, lo and behold, believe in Christ, in whom I give you all grace , Promise justice, peace and freedom. If you think so you have. If you don't think so, you have not. Because what is impossible for you with all the works of the commandments, of which there are many and yet cannot be of any use, becomes easy and short for you through faith. For in short I have included all things in faith, so that he who has it should have all things and be happy; whoever doesn't have it shouldn't have anything. Hence the promises of God give what the commandments demand and accomplish what the commandments command, so that all may be God's own, commandment and fulfillment: He alone commands, he alone also fulfills. That is why the promises of God are words of the New Testament and also belong in the New Testament.

For tithing.

So these and all words of God are holy, truthful, just, peaceful, free and full of all goodness. Whoever adheres to them with a right faith, his soul is united with this word, so completely that all properties of the word also become the soul's own, and that therefore through faith the soul is holy, righteous, truthful through God's word , peaceful, free and full of all goodness, becomes a true child of God, as John 1 says: He has given them to become children of God, all who believe in his name.

From this it is easy to see why faith can do so much and that no good works can be alike. Because no good work depends on the divine word like faith, it cannot be in the soul either, but only the word and faith rule in the soul. As the Word is, so also through it the soul becomes, just as the iron through union with the fire becomes glowing red like fire. So we see that a Christian has enough faith that he does not need a work to be righteous. But if he does not need any more work, then he is certainly released from all commandments and laws. If he is delivered, he is certain to be free. This is Christian freedom, the one belief that does not make us go idle or do evil, but that we need no work to achieve justice and salvation. We will say more about that later.

For the eleventh.

It is also the case with faith: Whoever believes another believes him because he regards him as a just, truthful man, which is the greatest honor that a person can do to another. Just as, conversely, it is the greatest disgrace when he regards the other as an unreliable, lying, frivolous man. It is the same when the soul firmly believes God's word. Then she considers him true, right, and just; in doing so she is doing him the greatest honor that she can do him. Because in this she agrees with him, in that she agrees with him, in that she honors his name and lets him treat her as he wants. For she does not doubt that he is just and true in all his words. Conversely, one cannot do God a greater dishonor than not believing him, with which the soul regards him as unsuitable, lying, frivolous, and, as far as it is concerned, denies him with such unbelief and an idol of his own mind against God upright, as if she wanted to know better than him. When God sees that the soul gives him truth and honors him in it through its faith, then he honors it conversely and also considers it to be just and true through faith. And it is also just and truthful through such faith, because that one gives God truth and justice, that is right and truth and makes right and truthful, because it is true and right that truth is given to God. But those do not do that who do not believe and yet are busy with many good works.

For the twelfth.

Faith not only gives so much that the soul becomes like the divine Word, full of grace, free and blessed, but it also unites the soul with Christ like a bride with her bridegroom. From this marriage it follows, as Paul says, that Christ and the soul become one body - so both goods also become one, success and misfortune and all things. For what Christ has is owned by the believing soul; what the soul has becomes Christ's own. Christ has all goods and bliss that are proper to the soul. So the soul has all wickedness and sin on it, which become Christ's own. This is where the joyful exchange and exchange begins: Since Christ is God and man, who has never sinned and whose righteousness is insurmountable, eternal and omnipotent, if he makes the sin of the believing soul his own through its bridal ring, faith and if he does not behave differently as if he had done them, then the sins must be swallowed up and drowned in him, for his invincible righteousness is too strong for all sins. In this way the soul is free and free from all its sins through its dowry alone, i.e. for the sake of faith, and is bestowed with the eternal righteousness of its bridegroom Christ. Isn't that a happy wedding, when the rich, noble, just bridegroom Christ marries the poor, despised, unsightly girl and frees her from all evil, adorns her with all goods? Therefore it is impossible for the sins to condemn her, for they now weigh on Christ and are swallowed up in him, therefore she has such rich righteousness in her bridegroom that she can stand up again against all sins if they are on her . Paul speaks of this in 1 Cor. 15: Praise and thanks be to God who has given us such an overcoming in Christ Jesus, through which death and sin are swallowed up.

For the thirteenth.

But here you can see the reason why so much is rightly ascribed to faith that it fulfills all the commandments and does justice without all works. For you see here that he alone fulfills the first commandment, which commands: You are to honor the one God. If you were filled to the heels with good works, for example, you would not be righteous and give no glory to God and therefore do not fulfill the very first commandment. Because God does not want to be honored other than that truth and all good things are ascribed to him as he truly is. But no good works do that, only faith of the heart.

That is why he alone is the righteousness of man and the fulfillment of all commandments. For whoever fulfills the first, the main commandment, certainly and easily fulfills all the other commandments as well. But works are dead things; they can neither honor nor praise God, although they must nevertheless be done and be done for God's honor and praise. But we are looking for the one who is not done like the works, but the self-doer and master worker, who honors God and does the works. This is none other than the faith of the heart, which is the head and the whole essence of righteousness.That is why it is a dangerous, dark speech when one teaches to fulfill God's commandments with works, since the fulfillment must have been done through faith before all works and the works follow after the fulfillment, as we will hear.

On the fourteenth.

So that we can continue to see what we have in Christ and what a great good good faith is, one must know that before and in the Old Testament God chose and reserved all male firstborns of humans and animals. This firstborn was precious and had two great virtues over all other children, namely, rulership and priesthood, or kingship and priesthood. Accordingly, the firstborn boy on earth was Lord over all his brothers and a clergyman and Pope before God. This type refers to Jesus Christ, who is actually the firstborn of God from the Virgin Mary. Hence he is a king and a priest, but spiritually. Because his kingdom is not earthly and does not consist in earthly, but in spiritual goods, as there are truth, wisdom, peace, joy, bliss etc. But with this temporal good is not excluded, because all things in heaven are subject to him in the earth and in hell, although one cannot see him; this is because he rules spiritually and invisibly.

Accordingly, his priesthood does not consist in outward behavior and clothes, as we see it with people, but it consists invisibly in the spirit, in that he stands up for his own without ceasing in front of God and sacrifices himself and does everything that a right priest supposed to do. He prays for us as Paul says in Romans 8. In doing so, he teaches us in our hearts what the two real right offices of a priest are. For external, human, temporal priests also ask and teach in the same way.

For the fifteenth.

Just as Christ has the firstborn with their honor and dignity, he also tells them to all his Christians that through faith they are also all kings and priests with Christ. As Peter 1Ptr. 2 says: You are a priestly kingdom and a royal priesthood. And it happens in such a way that a Christian person is exalted so high above all things through faith that he becomes spiritually a master over all things and nothing can harm him to salvation. Yes, everything must be subject to him and help him to salvation, as Paul teaches Rom. 8: All things must serve the elect for their good, be it life or death, sin, righteousness, good, evil, whatever one may call it . Likewise 1 Cor. 3: All things are yours, be it life or death, present or future, etc. Not that we are physically capable of all things to own or use them like people on earth, because we have to die physically and no one can escape death ; so we are subject to many other things as we see in Christ and the saints. Because it is a spiritual rule that reigns in bodily oppression, that is: I can strengthen myself in the soul without all things, so that death and suffering must also serve my salvation and be useful. That is a particularly high dignity and a really omnipotent rule, a spiritual kingdom in which there is no thing so good, so bad, that does not have to serve me for my benefit if I believe - and I do not need it, but my faith is enough for me. See, what a delicious freedom and power of Christians is that!

For the sixteenth.

Beyond that, we are priests, that is much more than being kings; because the priesthood makes us worthy to come before God and pray for others. Because standing before God's eyes and asking is no one but the priests. This is precisely what Christ has acquired for us, so that we can intercede spiritually for one another and ask as a priest physically intercedes and asks for the people. But whoever does not believe in Christ does not benefit from anything, he is a servant of all things and must be harmed in all things. Moreover, his prayer is not pleasant, nor does it come before God's eyes. Who can now fully enjoy the honor and majesty of a Christian? Through his kingship he is mighty of all things, through his priesthood he is mighty of God, because God does what he asks and wants, as it is written in the Psalter: God does the will of those who fear him and answers their prayers. He comes to this honor only through faith and no work. From this one sees clearly that a Christian is free from all things and about all things, so that he does not need any good works to be just and happy, but faith brings him everything in abundance. And if he were so foolish and thought that by doing a good work he would become righteous, free, saved or a Christian, then he would lose faith at the same time as all things. Just like the dog, which had a piece of meat in its mouth and snapped at the reflection in the water so that it lost its meat and shadow.

For the seventeenth.

If you ask what the difference is between priests and lay people in Christianity, if all are priests, the answer is: The word priest, priest, clergyman and the like has been injustice to be seen by the great multitude moved towards the little crowd that is now called the clergy. Scripture knows no other difference than that it calls the learned and consecrated ministri, servi, oeconomi, that is, servants, servants, stewards who are supposed to preach the other Christ, the faith and Christian freedom. For although we are all priests, we cannot all serve, or housekeeping, or preach. Therefore Paul says in 1 Cor. 4: We want to be regarded by the people as nothing more than Christ's servants and stewards of the gospel. But today housekeeping has become such a worldly, outwardly, splendid, terrifying rule and power that the real worldly power is in no way equal to it, just as if the lay people were something other than Christians. With that the whole meaning of Christian grace, Christian freedom and Christian faith is taken away. Everything that we have of Christ, even Christ himself, has been overwhelmed by much of the law and work of men, has been completely enslaved by the most unfit people on earth.

For the eighteenth.

From all of this we learn that if one preaches Christ's life and work superficially and only as a historical story or chronicle - let alone keep silent about him and the spiritual right or the law and doctrine of others, it is not preached enough Preaching people. There are also many who preach Christ as well and understand that they have pity on him, are angry with the Jews, or practice other childish ways in it. But it should and must be preached in such a way that my and you faith will grow out of it and be preserved. This faith is awakened and sustained by the fact that I am told why Christ came, how to use him and make use of what he has brought and given to me. That happens when the Christian freedom we have from him is interpreted correctly, and that we are kings and priests, capable of all things, and that everything we do is agreeable in front of God and will be heard, as I have been up to now said. For when a heart listens to Christ in this way, it must be full of joy, receive consolation and become loving towards Christ, to love him in turn. Laws and works never get there. For who wants to harm or frighten such a heart? If sin and death fall upon it, it believes that Christ's righteousness is to be and that sin is by no means his, but Christ's, then the sin must disappear before Christ's righteousness in faith, as said above. And the heart learns with the apostle to defy death and sin and to say: Where is now, death, your victory? Now where is your sting, death? Your sting is sin. But praise and thanks be to God, who has given us the victory through Jesus Christ our Lord. And death is drowned in victory, etc.

For the nineteenth.

Let that be said enough about the inner man, about his freedom and his main righteousness, which requires no law or good work, yes, which it is harmful if someone wanted to be justified by it. Now we come to the other part, to talk about the outer man. Here we want to answer all those who are annoyed by the previous speech and are used to speaking: Well, if faith is all things and it is up to it to do just enough, why are good works then required? Then we want to be in good spirits and do nothing! No, dear human, not like that. It would be like this if you were only an inward person and had become completely spiritual and inward, but this does not happen until the last day. There is and remains only a beginning and an increase on earth, which is only completed in that world. That is why the apostle calls it primitia spiritus, that is: the first fruits of the spirit, which is why what was said above belongs here: A Christian is a servant and subject to everyone, that is: if he is free, he does not need to do anything. If he is a servant, he must do all kinds of things. We want to see how this works.

For the twentieth.

Although the human being is inwardly, according to his soul, fully justified by faith and has everything he needs to have - only that this faith and its sufficiency must continue to increase into every life - he still remains in this bodily life Earth and must rule his own body and deal with people. Then the works begin, here he must not go idle, there the body must indeed be moved and exercised with fasting, watch, labor and with moderate discipline, so that it becomes obedient and uniform to the inner man and faith, and does not hinder it and do not oppose it, as is his way, if it is not coerced. Because if the inner man is one with God, happy and willing for the sake of Christ, who has done him so much, and puts all his lust into it, so that he can also serve God in free love in free love, then he will find one in his own flesh unruly will that wants to serve the world and seek what it lusts for. Faith cannot bear that and leans on its neck with readiness to moderate it and defend it. As Paul says in Rom. 7: I have a pleasure in God's will according to my inner man, but I also find another will in my flesh that wants to capture me with sins. Therefore I chastise my body and make it obedient, so that I, whom I am supposed to teach others, do not become reprehensible myself. Likewise Gal 5: All who belong to Christ crucify their flesh with his evil desires.

For the twenty-first.

But these works must not be done in the opinion that through them man will become righteous before God. Because faith cannot bear this wrong opinion, which alone is and must be righteousness before God. They may only take place in the opinion that the body is obediently and cleansed of its evil desires, and that the eye only looks at the evil desires to drive them out. For while the soul is pure through faith and loves God, it wants with pleasure that all things are also pure, first of all one's own body, and that everyone loves and praises God with it. So it happens that a person cannot go idle because of his own body, but must also do many good works so that he can subdue him - and yet the works are not the right good by which he becomes right and just before God, but he should do it for free out of free love to please God, and that nothing else is sought or viewed in it than that it pleases God, for whose sake he would like to do it in the best possible way. From this everyone can take the measure and the limitation to mortify the body. Because a person fasts, watches and strives as much as he sees that it is necessary for the body to curb its willfulness. The others, however, who think that they are just with works, do not pay attention to the restraint, but only look at the deeds and think that if they only do many and great of them, it will be done well and they would be just; they break their heads again and again and ruin their bodies over it. It is a great folly and a great misunderstanding of Christian life and faith that they want to become just and saved through works without faith.

For the twenty-second.

We want to give some examples of this. So the works of a Christian man who has become righteous through faith and sheer grace should not be viewed differently from the works of Adam and Eve in Paradise, of which Gen 2 it is written that God puts created man in Paradise so that he can edit and preserve. Now Adam was just and well created by God, without sin, so that he did not need to become good and just by working and keeping. But so that he would not go idle, God gave him to create, to plant, to cultivate and to preserve the paradise. These would have been nothing but free works, done for the sake of no other thing than to please God and not to obtain justice, which he already had before and which would naturally have been innate in all of us. Likewise, the work of a believing person, who through his faith has been transferred to Paradise anew and created anew, does not need any works in order to be righteous; but so that he does not go idle and work and preserve his body, that is why such free works, only to please God, are commanded.

Likewise, if an ordained bishop blesses churches, firms or otherwise exercises his office, these works do not make him a bishop. Yes, if he had not been ordained bishop beforehand, none of these works would be worthwhile and would be nothing but fools. Likewise, a Christian who is consecrated by faith and doing good works is not consecrated better or more through them (only the increase in faith itself does this) to become a Christian. Yes, if he did not believe beforehand and were a Christian, then all his works would count for nothing, but would be purely foolish, reprehensible and condemnable sin.

For the twenty-third.

That is why these two proverbs are true: Good righteous works never make a good righteous person, but a good righteous person does good righteous works. Bad works never make a bad person, but a bad person does bad works. Therefore, the person must always be good and just before all works, and good and just works must follow and proceed from the just, good person.

Just as Christ says, a bad tree does not bear good fruit. A good tree does not bear bad fruit. For it is obvious that it is not the fruit that bears the tree, and that the trees do not grow on the fruit, but vice versa: the trees bear the fruit and the fruit grow on the trees. Just as the trees must be there sooner than the fruit, and just as the fruit neither makes the trees good nor bad, but the trees make the fruit - so the person in his person must also be righteous or bad before he is good or doing evil works. And his works do not make him good or bad, but he does good or bad works. We see the same thing in all crafts. A good or bad house doesn't make a good or bad carpenter, but a good or bad carpenter makes a bad or good house. No work makes a master according to what the work is, but as the master is, so is his work. It is the same with man's works: as it is with him in faith or unbelief, according to this, his works are good or bad. And not the other way around: As his works stand, he is righteous or believing. Works do not do justice, any more than they make believers. But faith, no matter how it righteously, it also does good works. Since works do not justify anyone and a person has to be just before he works, it is evident that only faith out of pure grace through Christ and his word makes the person completely just and saved. And that no work, no commandment is necessary for a Christian to be saved, but he is free from all commandments and out of pure freedom does everything he does for free, and nothing with which he seeks his benefit or his happiness - because he is already satisfied and saved by his faith and God's grace - but only to please God in it.

For the twenty-fourth.

Conversely, he who is without faith is not served by any work of justice and bliss, just as, conversely, no bad works make him bad and condemnable. Rather, the unbelief that makes the person and the tree bad does bad and damned works. So whether one becomes righteous or wicked does not begin with works, but with faith. As the sage says, the beginning of all sin is to turn away from God and not to trust him. Christ also teaches that one must not begin with the works and says: Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad; as if he wanted to say: If you want good fruit, you have to start with the tree first and place it well. Likewise, whoever wants to have good works must not begin with the works, but with the person who is supposed to do the works.But no one makes the person good but belief alone, and no one makes the person bad but unbelief alone. That is certainly true: the works make one righteous or evil in front of the people, that is: they show outwardly who is righteous or evil. As Christ says Mt 7: You shall recognize them by their fruits. But it all comes down to appearance and is external. This reputation confuses many people who write and teach that one should do good works in order to be righteous - even though they do not think about faith at all. They go there and one blind person leads the other. They plague themselves with many works and yet never come to the right righteousness, of which Paul says in 2 Timothy 3: They have a semblance of righteousness, but the reason is not there. They go and learn on and on and yet never come to the knowledge of true righteousness.

If you don't want to err with these blind people, you have to look further than the works, commandments or the doctrine of works. Above all else, he must look at the person as he is righteous. But it is not just and saved through commandments and works, but through God's word (that is through his promise of grace) and faith, so that the divine honor may endure, in which he does not give us our work, but rather through his gracious word save freely and in pure mercy.

For the twenty-fifth.

From all this it is easy to understand to what extent good works are to be rejected and not to be rejected and how one should understand all doctrine which teaches good works. Because where the wrong addition and the wrong opinion are in the fact that we are to become just and blessed through works, they are already not good, but must be condemned entirely. Because they are not free and offend the grace of God, which alone makes just and saved through faith - what works are unable to do, but set out to do so and so that grace intervenes in their work and their honor. That is why we do not reject good works for their own sake, but for the sake of bad additions and wrong, wrong opinions. This has the effect that they only seem good and yet are not good, they deceive themselves and everyone with it, like raging wolves in sheep's clothing.

But the bad addition and the wrong opinion about the works are insurmountable when the belief is not there. You must be there in such a saint of work until faith comes and disturbs it. Nature cannot drive this out of itself. Yes, not even recognizing this, but she considers it a precious and valuable thing; that is why so many are seduced by it. As to whether it is a good thing to write and preach about repentance, confession, satisfaction: if one does not continue to believe, then it is undoubtedly a very diabolical, seductive doctrine. One must not preach one thing alone, but both words of God: One should preach the commandments in order to frighten sinners and to make their sin manifest so that they may feel repentance and be converted. But it should not stay that way, one also has to preach the other word, the promise of grace, in order to teach faith, without which repentance from the commandments and everything else happens in vain. Certainly there are preachers left who preach repentance of sin and grace, but they do not interpret the commandments and promises of God in such a way that one learns where and how repentance and grace come from. For repentance flows from the commandments, faith from God's promise, and through this man is justified and exalted through faith in the divine words, who is humbled by fear of God's commandment and has come to self-knowledge.

For the twenty-sixth.

Let that be said of the works as a whole and of those that a Christian should practice on his own body. Now we want to talk about other works that he does in relation to other people. Because man does not live alone in his body, but among other people on earth. That is why he cannot be without works against them, he must have to talk to and create with them, although none of these works are necessary for him for justice and happiness. That is why his opinion should be free in all works and only aimed at serving other people and being useful. He should do nothing else than what is necessary for others: that is a true Christian life, and faith goes to work with lust and love, as Paul teaches the Galatians. For the Philippians, when he taught them how they would all have grace and satisfaction through their faith in Christ, he continues to teach and says: I exhort you in all consolation that you have in Christ and in all consolation that you receive from of our love for you, and with all the fellowship you have with all true spiritual Christians, you wanted to please my heart completely; namely with the fact that from now on you are of one mind, one shows love for the other, one serves the other and each does not pay attention to himself and his own, but to the other and what is necessary for him. (Phil 2) Behold, Paul clearly defined the Christian life in such a way that all works are directed too well for the neighbor, because everyone has enough for himself in his faith and all other works and his life are available to him. to serve his neighbor out of free love. He cites Christ as an example and says: Be just as minded as you see it in Christ, who, even though he was in divine form and had enough for himself and his life, work and suffering were not necessary to him in order to be just and to be saved, but having emptied himself of all that and behaved as a servant, done all kinds of things and suffered, regarded nothing as our best and thus, although he was free, became a servant for our sake.

For the twenty-seventh.

That is why a Christian person like Christ should be his head, fulfilled and content, also let himself be satisfied in his faith, in which his life, his righteousness and salvation consist. He gives everything that Christ and God has, as said above. As Paul says in Gal 1: Whatever I still live in this body, I live in faith in Christ, God's Son. Christian man, since he is now completely free, should, conversely, readily make himself a servant in order to help his neighbor, deal with him and treat him as God dealt with him through Christ - and all in vain, look for nothing in it but divine Well pleased, and think like this: Well, my God has given me unworthy, damned man without any merit, purely for free and out of sheer mercy through and in Christ, full riches of righteousness and happiness, so that I still need no more than believe it be like that. Well, I want such a father, who has so showered me with his own exuberant goods, on the other hand, freely, happily and for free, what pleases him and also becomes a Christian to my neighbor, as Christ became with him, and do nothing else than just what I see that is necessary, useful and beneficial for him, because through my faith I have enough of all things in Christ. See, love and lust for God flow out of faith, and out of love a free, willing, happy life to serve one's neighbor for free. For just as our neighbor suffers adversity and needs our abundance, so we suffered adversity before God and needed his grace. Therefore, just as God helped us in vain through Christ, so we should do nothing else through our body and his works than to help our neighbor. There we see what a noble, noble life the Christian life is about, which unfortunately is not alone in the world at the moment, but is also no longer known nor is it being preached.

For the twenty-eighth.

Read as well as Lk. 2, how the Virgin Mary went to the temple after six weeks and let herself be cleansed according to the law like all other women, although she was not unclean nor obliged to this cleansing, nor did she need it. But she did it out of free love so as not to despise the other women. but stay in their company.

Likewise, Paul had Timothy circumcised, not because it was necessary, but so that he would not give the weakly believing Jews cause for bad thoughts. On the other hand, he did not want to have Titus circumcised when someone wanted to urge him to be circumcised and that that would be necessary for salvation. And when the interest penny was demanded from his disciples, Christ disputed with Peter whether they were not royal children, free to pay this tax. And when Peter said yes, he ordered him to go to the sea and said, `` So that we don't annoy them, go and take the first fish you catch and you will find a penny in its mouth, give it for. '' me and you. This is a beautiful example of this teaching that Christ calls himself and his own free royal children who need nothing, and yet willingly submits, serves and pays the interest. As little as the work of Christ was necessary and would have served for his righteousness and salvation, just as little are the works of his and his Christians necessary for them for salvation, but all are free services for the sake of others and for their improvement. In this sense, all the works of the priests, monasteries and monasteries should be done so that each one would do the work of his class and order solely to please the other and to rule his body, to set an example for others, to do the same but also have to conquer their body and yet always have to be careful that they do not want to become just and happy through this, which is only based on the power of faith. In this sense, Paul also commands Romans 13 and Titus 3 that Christians should be subject to worldly violence and be available, not that they can do justice through it, but that they should freely serve others and the authorities with it and their will out of love and freedom would do. Anyone who has this understanding can easily adapt to the countless commandments and laws of the Pope, the bishops, the monasteries, the monasteries, princes and lords, which many crazy prelates interpret as being necessary for salvation and name them Commandments of the Church, albeit wrongly. For a free Christian says this way: I want to fast, pray, do this and what is commanded, not that I need it or that I want to become just and saved through it, but I want it to the Pope, the bishop, the congregation or my brother To do and suffer for the sake of my Lord as an example and service, just as Christ did and suffered much greater things for me, which was even less necessary for him. And even if the oppressors do injustice to demand this, it does not harm me if it is not against God.

For the twenty-ninth.

From this everyone can gain a sure judgment and a distinction for all works and commandments, including which prelates are blind, crazy and which are right-winged. For whatever work is not aimed at serving the other or bearing his will, unless it forces one to act against God, then it is not a good Christian work. It is from this that I worry that few collegiate churches, monasteries, altars, masses, testaments are Christian, plus fasting and prayer to some saints when it is done for oneself. Because I fear that in all of this everyone is only looking for his own thing, believing to atone for his sin and to be saved. All this comes from ignorance about faith and Christian freedom and from a number of blind prelates who drive people there and praise such a being, adorn it with indulgences and no longer teach the faith. But I advise you: If you want to donate something, pray, fast, do not do it in the opinion that you want to do something good for yourself, but give it away that other people benefit from it and do it for their benefit, then you are a true christian. Why should your goods and good works, which are done in abundance, to rule and provide for your body, serve you, when you have enough faith in which God has given you all things. See, in this way God's goods must flow from one into the other and become communal, so that everyone takes care of his neighbor as if he were himself. From Christ they flow into us, who has accepted ours in his life, as if he was who we are. They should flow from us into those who need them. Until then, that I even use my faith and my righteousness for my neighbor before God to cover his sin, to take it upon myself and not to deal with it otherwise as if it were my own, just as Christ did for us all Has. See, that is the nature of love when it is true. But it is true where faith is true. That is why the apostle speaks of love in 1 Cor. 13 that it does not seek what is yours, but what is the neighbor.

For the thirtieth.

All this leads to the conclusion that a Christian does not live in himself, but in Christ and his neighbor. In Christ through faith, in neighbor through love. By faith he passes over himself in God. From God he travels among himself through love and yet always remains in God and in divine love. Just as Christ says John 1: You will see heaven standing open and the angels ascending and descending over the Son of Man.

See, that is the right spiritual Christian freedom, which frees the heart from all sins, laws and commandments, which surpasses all other freedom as heaven surpasses earth. God give us the right to understand and keep them. Amen.

Amen.