Quotable Luther

Joey found this quote from Martin Luther, the controversial spark of the Reformation.

“We must not…reject [or] condemn anything because it is abused. This would result in utter confusion.
God has commanded us in Deut. 4 not to lift up our eyes to the sun (and the moon and the stars), etc., that we may not worship them, for they are created to serve all nations. But there are many people who worship the sun and the stars. Therefore we propose to rush in and pull the sun and stars from the skies. No, we had better let it be.
Again, wine and women bring many a man to misery and make a fool of him (Ecclus. 19:2; 31:30); so we kill all the women and pour out all the wine. Again, gold and silver cause much evil, so we condemn them.
Indeed, if we want to drive away our worst enemy, the one who does us the most harm, we shall have to kill ourselves, for we have no greater enemy than our own heart, as the prophet, Jer. 17, says, “The heart of man is crooked,” or, as I take the meaning, “always twisting to one side.” And so on – what would we not do?”
-From Martin Luther’s fourth Invocavit sermon from 1522, found in Works [American edition] 51:85

I like that line toward the end:
Indeed, if we want to drive away our worst enemy, the one who does us the most harm, we shall have to kill ourselves, for we have no greater enemy than our own heart.

It’s easy to nod in unthinking agreement with Luther’s quote because his examples are so clear-cut (except for wine, which remains controversial in the American church).

It’s another thing to fully realize the impact of what he’s saying — that to define sin correctly, we must localize it in people (namely ourselves) and not in things.

… but it’s always so much easier to condemn things (or places or events) rather than deal with our own hearts and face our continual need for redemption, sanctification, and grace from a source beyond ourselves.

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