Martin Luther - On the Freedom of a Christian

For faith produces truth and righteousness in

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Unformatted text preview: ly impossible of fulfillment by us. 342 343 344 345 Now when a man has through the precepts been taught his own impotence, and become anxious by what means he may satisfy the law ­ ­for the law must be satisfied, so that no jot or tittle of it may pass away; otherwise he must be hopelessly condemned ­ ­then, being truly humbled and brought to nothing in his own eyes, he finds in himself no resource for justification and salvation. 346 347 348 Then comes in that other part of Scripture, the promises of God, which declare the glory of God, and say: "If you wish to fulfill the law, and, as the law requires, not to covet, lo! believe in Christ, in whom are promised to you grace, justification, peace, and liberty." All these things you shall have, if you 9 349 350 351 352 353 354 355 356 believe, and shall be without them, if you do not believe. For what is impossible for you by all the works of the law, which are many and yet useless, you shall fulfill in an easy and summary way through faith; because God the Father has made everything to depend on faith, so that whosoever has it, has all things, and he who has it not, has nothing. "For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that He might have mercy upon all." (Rom. xi. 32.) Thus the promises of God give that which the precepts exact, and fulfill what the law commands; so that all is of God alone, both the precepts and their fulfillment. He alone commands. He alone also fulfils. Hence the promises of God belong to the New Testament; nay, are the New Testament. 357 358 359 360 361 362 363 364 365 Now since these promises of God are words of holiness, truth, righteousness, liberty, and peace, and are full of universal goodness; the soul, which cleaves to them with a firm faith, is so united to them, nay, thoroughly absorbed by them, that it not only partakes in, but is penetrated and saturated by all their virtue. For if the touch of Christ was healing, how much more does that most tender spiritual touch, nay, absorption of the word, communicate to the soul all that belongs to the word. In this way, therefore, the soul, through faith alone, [110] without works, is from the word of God justified, sanctified, endued with truth, peace, and liberty, and filled full with every good thing, and is truly made the child of God; as it is said: "To them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name." (John i. 12.) 366 367 368 369 370 371 372 373 374 From all this it is easy to understand why faith has such great power, and why no good works, nor even all good works put together, can compare with it; since no work can cleave to the word of God, or be in the soul. Faith alone and the word reign in it; and such as is the word, such is the soul made by it; just as iron exposed to fire glows like fire, on account of its union with the fire. It is clear then that to a Christian man his faith suffices for everything, and that he has no need of works for justification. But if he has no need of works, neither has he need of the law; and, if he has no need of the law, he is certainly free from the law, and the saying is true: "The law is not made for a righteous man." (1 Tim. i. 9.) This is that Christian liberty, our faith, the effect of which is, not that we should be careless or lead a bad life, but that no one should need the law or works for justification and salvation. 375 376 377 378 379 380 381 Let us consider this as the first virtue of faith; and let us look also to the second. This also is an office of faith, that it honors with the utmost veneration and the highest reputation him in whom it believes, inasmuch as it holds him to be truthful and worthy of belief. For there is no honor like that reputation of truth and righteousness, with which we honor him, in whom we believe. What higher credit can we attribute to any one than truth and righteousness, and absolute goodness? On the other hand, it is the greatest insult to brand any one with the reputation of falsehood and unrighteousness, or to suspect him of these, as we do when we disbelieve him. 382 383 384 385 386 387 388 389 390 Thus the soul, in firmly believing the promises of God, holds Him to be true and righteous; and it can attribute to God no higher glory than the credit of being so. The highest worship of God is to ascribe to Him truth, righteousness, and whatever q...
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This document was uploaded on 02/07/2014.

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