Luther on Spiritual Warfare (part 3)

7. How This Must Happen in the Preaching Office and Other Stations

As, for instance, he who wants to be a pious preacher or pastor. He has his hands full that he rightly carry out his office, preach pure and clear, exhort, pray, and watch, that the devil not secretly cause sects and hinder him in his office, or allow him to be made sullen and impatient by the unthankfulness of the world and evil mouths. In addition to this he has to beat back the devil and the flesh for his own person, that he remain in the faith, etc. Likewise in other stations, each must first learn God’s Word, and not despise it (as the majority of the world does). Then let him see what his station demands. There you will find enough that hinders and fights you, both in regard to your faith and your office. Therefore you must arm yourself against this, and think, “This is what is required of me to believe, and to live as a husband or wife, son, daughter, mayor, lord, servant, maid, etc. Here I want to remain, and not let anything hinder me, or irritate or scare me off from it.”

8. A Great Seriousness is Required for This

See! For this reason St. Paul uses just these words: “Be strong in the Lord.” Otherwise he had just as well said with plain words (as he otherwise speaks, and as we take care to speak, when we make known the doctrine): “Each of you see to it, that you rightly believe, and do what is commanded you [in your vocation.]” But here he uses such mighty words: “Strengthen yourself,” or “Be strong” with care and not without reason, namely, because, as said already, whoever wants to remain with this doctrine and his office must arm himself and be vigorous about it, because it is not a thing that goes so easily and accomplishes itself without hindrance and opposition. Instead, it does not happen without tribulation. Therefore it is necessary that one wake himself up and be brave, and not listen to anything else…

9. For this One has Need of God’s Power

Because he does not want such lax Christians, who bring away nothing more from [his preaching] than to know it and be baptized [?], and do not think how they may bring it forth in life. He wants them to understand that the doctrine must be lived and done. Therefore it requires strength, and such strength which is of God, not of the world nor flesh and blood. It requires divine strength that a person, informed by God’s Word as to how he should stand before God and live correctly, who thinks, “I want to remain with this and hear and listen to no other”—that that person could stand if some rotten spirit came and wanted to pervert the doctrine and understanding of Christ, or if some idle tongue wanted to draw and tear him from his commanded office and works. For the devil leaves no one without affliction and tribulation, if not through the world, then inwardly, in the heart, through his promptings, false thoughts, and through our own flesh. Because the devil does nothing else than fight and hinder you, so that you do not remain with the pure doctrine. He is afraid that a tree will grow out of the little root [of your faith in Christ.] Therefore it is before all things necessary, that as soon as you have begun to believe, you strengthen yourself and become firm—not otherwise than through the Lord, or in the Lord, that is, the Lord’s strength. You will not find this in your bosom nor in the world, because it must be a strength and power that stands not only against the world’s might and power, but also against the devil’s, who indeed is a mighty lord and emperor in the whole world, as we will hear later.

10. Which before the world appears weak, and yet does great things

But it is a particularly wonderful strength, although it is nothing in the eyes of the world, because it does no more than ground itself on and hold to the bare Word. I mean, if it is to be so great a strength, it must have another foundation than to be built on a strong rock, or to hide in a firm castle. The world calls it “strengthening yourself” when you put on a good suit of armor, when you are armed and secured with a gun. But all this counts for nothing against this foe, the devil. Instead it must be a spiritual, eternal strength, which grasps the Lord Christ in His Word through faith. And even if it does not appear to the eyes how strong He is, yet He is man enough that whoever clings to him can defy the devil and all his might and power, because He remains with those who are His. Therefore, Paul says, if you want to be strong and unconquerable, then let the Lord Christ be your strength. Grasp him well, and practice yourself well in Him. See that He is well-known to you, and you keep his word pure, that you with all diligence learn it, and daily drive it into your heart so thoroughly that your heart and God’s Word become one thing, and the matter become as certain, and much more certain, than your own life. When you have that, then you are right strong and firm, so that you cannot be overturned, and could remain secure, whether the devil comes, or his messengers, whether enthusiasts or the Pope’s gang. Then you yourself will teach and lead others, or raise up something new.


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