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Luther and Justification

October 31 is Reformation Day commemorating the day in 1517 when Martin Luther tacked up his ’95 Theses’ on the Castle Church in Wittenburg, Germany. In this document was strong denunciation of the sale of indulgences purported to release people from the penalties of sin. This activity was nothing more than a greedy guise for gain on the part of the corrupt church at that time. The love of money produces all sorts of evil even in ecclesiastical environments. 

Luther took a stand on the principle of justification by faith (Romans 1:17) alone. All the money, indulgences, works, adherence to the law or religious piety in the world could not provide salvation for even one soul. We are made whole by believing in God’s finished work in Christ. Luther wrote:  “Sin is not canceled by lawful living, for no person is able to live up to the Law. The Law reveals guilt, fills the conscience with terror, and drives men to despair. Much less is sin taken away by man-invented endeavors. The fact is, the more a person seeks credit for himself by his own efforts, the deeper he goes into debt. Nothing can take away sin except the grace of God. In actual living, however, it is not so easy to persuade oneself that by grace alone, in opposition to every other means, we obtain the forgiveness of our sins and peace with God.” (Commentary on Galatians)

Romans 7:4-6 Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God. For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death. But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.

There is such freedom as we walk in the newness of life God has provided. We live ‘exceedingly abundant’ as Ephesians 3:20 relates and we become a breath of fresh air to others when they see our excitement  and confidence in knowing the one true God.


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