The year was 1521. A young monk named Martin Luther stood before a church council in the German city of Worms. He had written a series of books and articles in which he expressed concern over the corruption of the Roman Church. Of particular concern was the issue of salvation. Luther had taken issue with the church’s practice of selling indulgences. For a certain amount of money, one could purchase an indulgence. And in exchange for the donation one would receive grace. The church promised that an indulgence would move a deceased relative closer toward heaven. The underlying issue was an important one. Was a person saved by grace alone or by a combination of grace and human merit? The Scriptures were clear and there Luther took his stand.
As he stood before the council, Luther was asked to recant his books and articles. Luther’s response was compelling, “Unless I am convicted by Scripture and plain reason – I do not accept the authority of popes and councils, for they have contradicted each other – my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. God help me. Amen.”
Is your conscience captive to the Word of God? You might not be particularly swayed by popes or councils. But are you swayed by popular media opinion? Are you swayed by your friend group? Are you swayed by your favorite musicians? Are you swayed by your feelings?
Luther reminds us that our lives should be lived in obedience to the Word of God. Nothing else should dictate truth. Nothing else should shape our lifestyle. To live according to any other code is neither right nor safe.
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