Blessed Martin Luther: “…and so we are partly sinners and partly righteous”


(Boldface emphases mine. — admin)

And when I exhort to walk in the Spirit, that you fulfill not the concupiscence of the flesh, I do not require of you that you should utterly put off the flesh or kill it, but that you should bridle and subdue it. For God will have mankind to endure even to the last day. And this cannot be done without parents, which do beget and bring up children. These means continuing, it must needs be that flesh also must continue, and consequently sin, for flesh is not without sin. Therefore in respect of the flesh we are sinner: but in respect of the Spirit we are righteous, and so we are partly sinners and partly righteous. Notwithstanding our righteousness is much more plentiful than our sin, because the holiness and righteousness of Christ our Mediator doth far exceed the sin of the whole world, and the forgiveness of sins which we have through Him is so great, so large, and so infinite, that it easily swalloweth up all sins, so that we walk according to the Spirit, &c.

(A Commentary on St. Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians By Martin Luther, eds. Johann Friedrich Wilhelm Tischer, Samuel Simon Schmucker; Philadelphia, Smith, English & Co.: 1860; p. 571)

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That is what my Antinomians, too, are doing today, who are preaching beautifully and (as I cannot but think) with real sincerity about Christ’s grace, about the forgiveness of sin and whatever else can be said about the doctrine of redemption. But they flee as if it were the very devil the consequence that they should tell the people about the third article, of sanctification, that is, of new life in Christ. They think one should not frighten or trouble the people, but rather always preach comfortingly about grace and the forgiveness of sins in Christ, and under no circumstance use these or similar words: “Listen! You want to be a Christian and at the same time remain an adulterer, a whoremonger, a drunken swine, arrogant, covetous, a usurer, envious, vindictive, malicious, etc.!” Instead they say, “Listen! Though you are an adulterer, a whoremonger, a miser, or other kind of sinner, if you but believe, you are saved, and you need not fear the Law. Christ has fulfilled it all!…They may be fine Easter preachers, but they are very poor Pentecost preachers, for they do not preach… “about the sanctification by the Holy Spirit,” but solely about the redemption of Jesus Christ, although Christ (Whom they extol so highly, and rightly so) is Christ, that is, He has purchased redemption from sin and death so that the Holy Spirit might transform us out of the Old Adam into New Men…Christ did not earn only gratia, grace, for us, but also donum, “the gift of the Holy Spirit,” so that we might have not only forgiveness of, but also cessation of, sin. Now he who does not abstain from sin, but persists in his evil life, must have a different Christ — that of the Antinomians; the real Christ is not there, even if all the angels would cry, “Christ! Christ!” He must be damned with this, his new Christ.

(On the Council and the Church, Luther’s Works, vol. 41, ed. Jaroslav Pelikan; CPH: St. Louis, 1964, 1992; pp. 113-114).