Law And Gospel For The Christian Who Is In Two Realms At Once

"In order to understand truly how to use the Law, you must divide man into two parts and keep the two clearly separated, namely, the old man and the new man, as St. Paul divided man. Leave the new man completely undisturbed by laws, but the old man you must unceasingly spur on with laws, and must give him no rest from them. In that way you use the Law well. The new man cannot be helped through works, he needs something higher, namely, Christ, who is neither Law nor works, but a gift and present, of the sheer grace and goodness of God. When through faith He comes to dwell in your heart, God makes you saintly. But if you should ever think of becoming acceptable through some deed of your own, such as entering some order, or pursuing some vocation, you would have failed to use the Law aright, and denied Christ. He will to help you without any work of yours, but if you desire to help yourself through your works you have carried the Law too high and too far. For you drive Christ out of your heart where He should be seated and reign alone, and in His place you put the Law and your own works.

 In this manner (I say) the new man carries in his heart Christ and all His heavenly goods, and has everything he should have and is in need of nothing, whether in heaven or on earth."

 -Martin Luther (WA 17:1.122-ff)

"According to the spirit the believer is righteous, without any sin whatsoever, and does not require the Law; but according to the flesh he still has sin .... Since, then, sin still exists [in us], Scripture judges us to be equal to the unrighteous and sinners, so that according to the flesh we must have the Law just as much as they."

-Martin Luther (St. L., IX, 881)

"A Christian is in two realms at once.  So far as he is flesh, he is under the Law; so far as he is spirit, he is under grace."

-Martin Luther (St. L. IX: 452)

"This calls for a wise and faithful father who can moderate the Law in such a way that it stays within its limits. For if I were to teach men the Law in such a way that they suppose themselves to be justified by it before God, I would be going beyond the limit of the Law, confusing these two righteousnesses, the active and the passive, and would be a bad dialectician who does not properly distinguish. But when I go beyond the old man, I also go beyond the Law. For the flesh or the old man, the Law and works, are all joined together. In the same way the spirit or the new man is joined to the promise and to grace. Therefore when I see that a man is sufficiently contrite, oppressed by the Law, terrified by sin, and thirsting for comfort, then it is time for me to take the Law and active righteousness from his sight and to set forth before him, through the Gospel, the passive righteousness which excludes Moses and the Law and shows the promise of Christ, who came for the afflicted and for sinners. Here a man is raised up again and gains hope. Nor is he any longer under the Law; he is under grace, as the apostle says (Rom. 6:14): “You are not under law but under grace.” How not under law? According to the new man, to whom the Law does not apply. For the Law had its limits until Christ, as Paul says below (Gal. 3:24): “The Law, until Christ.” When He came, Moses and the Law stopped. So did circumcision, Sacrifices, and the Sabbath. So did all the prophets."

-Martin Luther (LW, XXVI, 6-7.)

Therefore the Christian is divided this way into two times. To the extent that he is flesh, he is under the Law; to the extent that he is spirit, he is under the Gospel. To his flesh there always cling lust, greed, ambition, pride, etc. So do ignorance and contempt of God, impatience, grumbling, and wrath against God because He obstructs our plans and efforts and because He does not immediately punish the wicked who despise Him. These sins cling to the flesh of the saints. Therefore if you do not look at anything beyond the flesh, you will remain permanently under the time of the Law. But those days have to be shortened, for otherwise no human being would be saved (Matt. 24:22). An end has to be set for the Law, where it will come to a stop. Therefore the time of Law is not forever; but it has an end, which is Christ. But the time of grace is forever; for Christ, having died once for all, will never die again (Rom. 6:9–10). He is eternal; therefore the time of grace is eternal also.

-Martin Luther (LW, XXVI, 342.)

CLICK HERE to join in the conversation on Facebook.
CLICK HERE to follow on Twitter.