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Martin Luther and the Freedom of a Christian


In July, we celebrate Independence Day. We celebrate the freedom of our nation and the personal liberties we enjoy. We remember and recognize all who have made great sacrifices to provide that freedom for us.

The topic of freedom isn’t one that makes us think about Martin Luther, even in the 500th Anniversary year of the Reformation. However, in 1520, Luther wrote a treatise now called “The Freedom of a Christian.”

The most famous phrase from this treatise as follows; “A Christian man is the most free lord of all, and subject to none; a Christian man is the most dutiful servant of all, and subject to everyone.” These two phrases may seem to contradict one another, but, put together, they explain the Christian life quite well.

First, Christians are free. By His death on the cross, Jesus has redeemed us and freed us from sin, death, and the power of the devil. And, while we still live under earthly authorities, governments, and rulers, they only have as much authority as God chooses to give them. As the author of Hebrews joyously proclaimed in Hebrews 13:6; "The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?” Ultimately, we belong to God, and no one else has any real power over our lives.

Even though we are free, however, we are called to live our lives as servants to others. Jesus showed us this in His life. Even though He was Lord of the universe, He knelt at His Disciples’ feet and wash them. We’re called to serve others in the same way. We don’t serve because we have to as a condition we must meet before God loves us and saves us. Rather, we serve as a way to give thanks for the fact that God has already loved and saved us.

The Bible verse that perhaps best summarizes Luther’s argument is I Corinthians 9:19 which states “For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all that I might win more of them.”

We are blessed to live in a country in which we are free to worship God, to read His Word, to gather for Christian fellowship, and to speak about Him openly. Let’s all embrace that freedom and use it every chance we get to share His love and speak His Word to the people around us!

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