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Wednesday, October 11, 2017

“Martin Luther: The Freedom of the Christian”

Romans 8:18-25

Paul here expands on his view of freedom.  He acknowledges that we face suffering. Yet while certainly not saying that suffering is good, he says it will lead to “the glory about to be revealed to us.” Paul holds out a vision that the justification and salvation found in Christ will eventually have cosmic implications. He speaks of the whole creation being set free from “its bondage to decay.” This “decay” Luther believes to the whole sinful character of humanity following the example of Adam (Rom. 5:12-21).  Yet even out of sin in all its darkness and degradation God is fashioning not only something new but something more wonderful that this world could ever imagine.  God is not the author of sin. Humanity chose sin explicitly in disobeying God and rebelling against his Word.

Paul here is speaking of freedom on multiple levels. There is the freedom from guilt and condemnation that is the initial stage of God’s justifying us through faith.  Then there is another level of freedom in the sense, as noted yesterday, that with the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit we are more and more freed from the power of sin in our “flesh,” our sinful nature.  However most important of all is freedom from fear and anxiety. Luther struggled with depression throughout his life.  With a perhaps over active imagination he saw the devil lurking behind all of his doubts and fears. At one point he allegedly threw an ink bottle against the devil!

Freedom for Luther was not our view of doing whatever we please. For him freedom was based on commitment to scripture. The Bible alone frees us from all our doubts and fears. In scripture we encounter hope. Paul adds that “Hope that is seen is not hope.” This unseen hope teaches us patience at the same time that it drives away our fears.

Gracious and loving God, give me your freedom.  Secure my hope in you and free me from doubt and uncertainty.  I pray this in Jesus’ name, Amen.