Christian Good Works Do Not Come From Coercion

Romans 12:1, "Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship."

Commenting on Romans 12:1, Martin Luther says,

“Paul does not say: I command you; for he is preaching to such as are already Christians and godly by faith, in newness of life. These must not be coerced by means of commandments, but admonished to do willingly what has to be done with the old sinful man in them. For any person who does not do this willingly, simply in answer to kind admonitions, is not a Christian; and any person who wants to achieve this result by force applied to such as are unwilling is not a Christian preacher or ruler, but a worldly jailer. A preacher of the Law comes down on men with threats and punishments; a preacher of divine grace coaxes and urges men by reminding them of the goodness and mercy which God has shown them. For He would have no unwilling workers nor heedless service; He wants men to be glad and cheerful in the service of God. Any person who will not permit himself to be coaxed and urged with sweet and pleasant words, which remind him of the mercy of God abundantly bestowed upon him in Christ, to do good joyfully and lovingly to the honor of God and for the benefit of his fellow men, is worthless, and all that is done for him is labor lost. If he is not melted and dissolved in the fire of heavenly love and grace, how can he be softened and made cheerful by laws and threats? It is not a man’s mercy, but the mercy of God that is bestowed on us; and this mercy Paul wants us to consider in order that we may be incited and moved by it to serve God.” 


I think when I read about "good works" I begin to look for things beyond the normalcy of life... being a husband, father, friend etc. It seems my tendency (and what has frightened me in the past) is to think in terms of hyper-spirituality (which I abhor) vs. being to actually live in the various vocations and callings (and many more) while enjoying the life I've been given completely confident in what has been accomplished for me in Christ. It was this understanding that primarily drew me to Lutheranism though I would not have been able to voice this distinction at all. I simply knew I was beginning to hate the sense of hyper-spirituality and the internal conflicts it created.
Could you elaborate a bit in a further posting what you mean by "good works." What are you thinking when you "urge someone to good works." Thanks man!
Anonymous said…
What commentary is this found in??

Today's sermon at my local church answers your question. I will have it posted soon.

It is from Luther's Works, his volume on Romans.