Luther wrestles with God – Through Anger, Guilt, Revelation and Forgiveness

Martin Luther by Lucas Cranach
Martin Luther by Lucas Cranach

When Luther returned to Wittenberg disappointed with his visit to Rome, he began teaching and expounding the Scriptures and his thirst for truth intensified.

He writes:
‘I was seized with the conviction that I must understand [Paul’s] letter to the Romans.  I did not have a heart of stone, but to that moment one phrase in chapter one stood in my way.

I hated the idea, ‘in it the righteousness of God is revealed’ …according to which God is righteous and punishes the unrighteous sinner.

I lived without reproach as a monk, but my conscience was disturbed to its very depths and all I knew about myself was that I was a sinner.

I could not believe that anything I thought or did or prayed satisfied God.  I did not love, nay, I hated the righteous God who punishes sinners.

Certainly, and with intense grumbling (perhaps even blasphemy), I was angry with God and said, ‘As if it were indeed not enough that miserable sinners who are eternally lost through original sin and are crushed again by every calamity through the Ten Commandments, God Himself adds pain to pain in the gospel by threatening us with His righteousness and wrath!’

At last, meditating day and night…by the mercy of God, I gave heed to the context of the words, ‘In it the righteousness of God is revealed, as it is written, ‘He who through faith is righteous shall live.’

Then I began to understand that the righteousness of God is…a gift of God, namely by faith…

Here I felt as if I were entirely born again and had entered paradise itself through gates that had been flung open.

An entirely new side of the Scriptures opened itself to me…and I extolled my sweetest word with a love as great as the loathing with which before I had hated the term ‘the righteousness of God’.

Thus, that verse in Paul was for me truly the gate of paradise.’ [1]

Luther wrestled with God! Next time we’ll see how he wrestled his generation and began a reform movement that took on the world!

[i] Luther’s Works, Vol 34, p.336-338 Fortress Press,and quoted in Luther, the Reformer by James M. Kittleson, (1989 Leicester: IVP)

For the first part of the Martin Luther Story click here
For the next part of the Martin Luther story click here

© 2008 Lex Loizides

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One thought on “Luther wrestles with God – Through Anger, Guilt, Revelation and Forgiveness

  1. Christian Ortiz May 15, 2013 / 4:44 am

    This is a beautiful realization. It is so to that to those who try to save themselves, only suffering and failure await them. The daunting task of saving one’s self is an incredibly sad picture, and one which i have taken part in. Its is like swimming against a strong current leading to a waterfall. No matter how strong or resilient one is, such a thing is not possible to do alone, we need to be saved. And often, we ask ourselves how we got into the inescapable stream we find ourselves in, and in our ignorance, we blame God. Forgetting that it was each one of us, individually, who decided to give into temptation and submerge ourselves in sin. This period of denial and rage is a terribly sad place to be in, it is a place where we allow the anger and contempt we have for ourselves, which is created from our choice to submerge ourselves in sin, and we turn it towards God, the only one who offers and is able to save us. But once we allow ourselves to think with unclouded judgement, and only when we accept the truth, can we accept the helping and loving hand that wishes to pull us out of our misery, and allow us to help others realize the same truth, and make the same decision for themselves.

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