Martin Luther: The Greatest Evil

19 12 2011

Listed below are excerpts from Luther’s Works (American Ed.) vol. 42. The excerpts are from Luther’s work called Fourteen Consolations.  Within this work Luther carefully sets out his perspective on suffering and the sovereignty of God.  Well worth a read and thoughtful contemplation…Enjoy! 

The greatest evil that man can know is the evil within one’s self. If true knowledge of this evil came to us it would destroy us immediately. “therefore, when God in his mercy chastens us, he shows us and lays upon us only the lighter evils, for God knows that if he were to lead a man to a full knowledge of his own evils, that man would die at once. Therefore, they speak the truth who say that our physical sufferings are monitors of the evil within. In Hebrews 12.6, the Apostle calls them God’s fatherly chastenings when he says, ‘He scourges every son whom he receives.’ By such scourgings and lesser evils he drives out the greater evil. Pg 125

This is what Paul says. Who would not be terrified by these words of Paul in which he clearly states that those who are without the chastisement of God are not then children of God? On the other hand, who could be more powerfully enheartened and more fully comforted than he who hears that those who are chastened are loved by the Lord, that they are sons of God, that they are members in the communion of saints, and that those who suffer are never alone? Such a powerful exhortation must make chastisement something to be loved. Pg 138

How does this come to pass? Surely it comes to pass when you hear that Jesus Christ, God’s Son, has by his most holy touch consecrated and hallowed all sufferings, even death itself, has blessed the curse, and has glorified shame and enriched poverty so that death is now a door to life, the curse a fount of blessing, and shame the mother of glory. How, then, can you be so hardhearted and ungrateful as not to long for and love all manner of sufferings now that these have been couched and bathed by Christ’s pure and holy flesh and blood and thus have become holy, harmless, wholesome, blessed and full of joy for you? Pg 142

If you kiss, caress, and embrace as sweetest relics the robe of Christ, the vessels, the water jugs, and anything Christ touched or used or hallowed by his touch, why will you not much more rather love, embrace, and kiss the pain and evils of this world, the disgrace and shame which he not only hallowed by his touch but sprinkled and blessed with his most holy blood, yes, even embraced with a willing heart and with supreme, constraining love? Pg 143



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