Martin Luther’s Troubled Conscience

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Romans 3:23-24

If there ever was a devoted monk it certainly was Martin Luther. He dedicated his life to God and to the church. He would spend hours meditating and in prayer. He would actually beat himself to show God how sorry he was for his sins. No matter what, he never could find comfort for his tormented conscience. Luther knew all too well the words of Romans chapter 3 verse 23 that say this:

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. –Romans 3:23b

All human beings, young or old, are born in sin, will live in sin, and will die in sin. It is the disease that affects us all. And yet none are without excuse. All are held accountable for their sins.

Luther knew this all too well, but the Holy Spirit came to show Luther the truth as he studied God’s Word in those early chapters of Romans. As he came to see that man is declared righteous not because of the things that he does for God, living a Christian life, but because of what God has done for him through His Son Jesus Christ.

Luther came to appreciate the words of God in the very next verse which says:

…and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. –Romans 3:24

What a comfort for sinners, what a comfort for Luther this was to see that man is declared righteous, viewed as righteous, in God’s sight not because of what he has done, or how much he promises to do, but simply because of God’s grace through Christ, what he has done for him.

None of us can deny that we are human beings and that we are sinful, but also none of us can deny that we are included in that word ‘all’. No matter how terrible of a sinner we have been, no matter what we have done we are included there. All are justified freely by God’s grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

This is the blessed truth of the Reformation, the good news of the gospel that shined forth once again through Martin Luther and many who came after him proclaiming God’s word of truth that salvation is by grace, through faith in Christ Jesus. Amen.