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December 19, 2014

So many times we hear motivational speeches about what we can do, what we could accomplish with the power within ourselves—the power that we, unfortunately, never use.

This has influenced us so much that it moved into our ‘pulpits’. We’re taught by some preachers that man has the ability within himself to change his life, that anyone can create their dreams by faith and spoken words. We just have to “visualize it”, according to them, or “speak it into existence” and thus create our desired reality.

Martin Luther(1483-1546) wrote a book as a response (in their [long] argument about free will) to the writings of Erasmus(1466-1536). In this book, he not only refutes these teachings, but he even asserts that man, left to himself, does not even have the resources within himself to will or desire to do good.

In this short paragraph, Luther argues that man can’t even obey God’s commandments (Erasmus said that man can because otherwise, why would he be given them if he has no ability within himself to obey them?). Luther says:

‘The Diatribe constantly imagines a man who either can do what he is commanded, or at any rate knows that he cannot. But such a man is nowhere to be found. If there were such, then, in truth, either the commanding of impossibilities would be absurd, or the Spirit of Christ would be in vain. But the Scriptures set before us a man who is not only bound, wretched, captive, sick and dead, but who, through the operation of Satan his Lord, adds to his other miseries that of blindness, so that he believes himself free, happy, possessed of liberty and ability, whole and alive. Satan knows that if men knew their own misery he could keep no man in his kingdom; God could not fail at once to pity and succour wretchedness that knew itself and cried to him, for God is proclaimed with mighty praise throughout Scripture as being near the brokenhearted…
But through the work of Moses the lawgiver is the opposite of this-namely, through the law to lay open to man his own wretchedness, so that, by thus breaking him down, and confounding him in his self-knowledge, he may take him ready for grace, and send him to Christ to be saved. Therefore the function performed by the law is nothing to laugh at, but is most emphatically serious and necessary.’

From “The Bondage of the Will”

This is how he responds to those who think they have anything good in themselves that is good, or magical. God’s commands were given to show us that we can’t obey them—for who can dare say he can, by himself, love God with all his mind and soul and strength? If you say you can, you haven’t understood the implications of that command. With the knowledge that we can’t obey them, we run to the one who can help us.

The power to change our lives isn’t in us—helpless and blind people— but it’s found in Him and we’ll do well to run to Him, our only hope.


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