RPM, Volume 14, Number 19, May 6 to May 12, 2012

The Bondage of the Will

By Martin Luther

Section CXXII.

Sect. CXXII. IF the whole man, (says the Diatribe) even when regenerated by faith, is nothing else but flesh, where is the spirit born of the Spirit? Where is the child of God? Where is the new-creature? I want information upon these points. Thus the Diatribe .

Where now! Where now! my very dear friend, Diatribe! What dream now! You demand to be informed, how the spirit born of the Spirit can be flesh. Oh how elated, how secure of victory do you insultingly put this question to me, as though it were impossible for me to stand my ground here. All this while, you are abusing the authority of the Ancients: for they say that there are certain seeds of good implanted in the minds of men. But, however, whether you use, or whether abuse, the authority of the Ancients, it is all one to me: you will see by and by what you believe, when you believe men prating out of their own brain, without the Word of God. Though perhaps your care about religion does not give you much concern, as to what any one believes; since you so easily believe men, without at all regarding, whether or not that which they say be certain or uncertain in the sight of God. And I also wish to be informed, when I ever taught that, with which you so freely and publicly charge me. Who would be so mad as to say, that he who is born of the Spirit, is nothing but flesh?

I make a manifest distinction between flesh and spirit, as things that directly militate against each other; and I say, according to the divine oracles, that the man who is not regenerated by faith is flesh; but I say, that he who is thus regenerated; is no longer flesh, excepting as to the remnants of the flesh, which war against the first fruits of the Spirit received. Nor do I suppose you wish to attempt to charge me, invidiously, with any thing wrong here; if you do, there is no charge that you could more iniquitously bring against me.

But you either understand nothing of my side of the subject, or else you find yourself unequal to the magnitude of the cause; by which you are, perhaps, so overwhelmed and confounded, that you do not rightly know what you say against me, or for yourself. For where you declare it to be your belief, upon the authority of the ancients, that there are certain seeds of good implanted in the minds of men, you must surely quite forget yourself; because, you before asserted, that Free-will cannot will any thing good. And how cannot will any thing good, and certain seeds of good can stand in harmony together, I know not. Thus am I perpetually compelled to remind you of the subject-design with which you set out; from which you with perpetual forgetfulness depart, and take up something contrary to your professed purpose.

This article is provided as a ministry of Third Millennium Ministries (Thirdmill). If you have a question about this article, please email our Theological Editor.

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