Let’s do another from lecture 12, concerning
In the fourth place, the Word of God is not rightly divided when the Law is preached to those who are already in terror an account of their sins or the Gospel to those who live securely in their sins.
The bulk of this lecture consists of a letter written by Luther to “that splendid man Spalatin (born 1482), who had a great share in the work of the Reformation. … He had been party to an advice given to a certain pastor to marry the stepmother of his deceased wife. The marriage was absolutely contrary to God’s Word, and the advice was the more appalling since the Apostle Paul, in dealing with a similar offense in 1 Cor. 5, had declared that it involved fornication such as is not so much as named among the Gentiles. When the truth dawned on good Spalatin, he refused to be comforted.” The letter is quite interesting, and I encourage you to read it, but I liked this part especially:
There are only two ways in which Luther can explain to himself why Spalatin refuses to be comforted. Either he has hitherto failed to perceive his misery and wretchedness under sin; he has not been aware of the fact that he is a great sinner by nature; his grievous fall had to occur in order that his eyes might be opened to these facts. Or Satan must have hidden every consolation out of Spalatin’s sight. Practically Luther says to Spalatin: Had you fully realized the awful corruption of your heart in its relation to God, you would not be so inconsolable; for you would say to yourself: Alas! the fountain is so polluted; that is why such filth has to flow from it.
To return to Luther:
Therefore my faithful request and admonition is that you join our company and associate with us, who are real, great, and hard-boiled sinners. You must by no means make Christ to seem paltry and trifling to us, as though He could be our Helper only when we want to be rid from imaginary, nominal, and childish sins. No, no! That would not be good for us. He must rather be a Savior and Redeemer from real, great, grievous, and damnable transgressions and iniquities, yea, from the very greatest and most shocking sins; to be brief, from all sins added together in a grand total.
…Luther argues that sharing a brother’s sin entitles you to the claim that the brother must, in turn, share your comfort. God takes no pleasure in beholding a person stricken with remorse and laboring with might and main to remain thus stricken. When the hammer of His Law has crushed us, we are to flee from Moses to Christ. That is the right procedure. Luther’s exegesis of 1 John 3, 8 is beautiful. The term “works of the devil” is commonly interpreted to signify horrible and gross sins, but Luther comprises in that term also doubt and melancholy as being the most grievous sin.