“A Christian is a perfectly free lord of all, subject to none. A Christian is a perfectly dutiful servant of all, subject to all.” This paradox is the basis of Luther’s concept on Christian freedom. For Luther, his reform freed Christians two fold. Christians were free from false assumptions about salvation and from the commandments of the Old Testament. To Luther, God alone could grant salvation. Despite this freedom, Christians still had to obey earthly laws. The differences of spiritual and temporal freedom seemed contradictory but for Luther it was clear that faith would free the Christian soul. Luther defined freedom for a Christian as freedom through faith. Salvation was granted by God alone. However their flesh was still bound by temporal laws on earth because it did not affect the soul.
First, the basis of Christian freedom was Luther’s belief of an inner man and an outer man. The inner man was the spiritual man, and the outer man the flesh. For Luther, freedom was not for the outer man but for the inner person. Since the needs of the soul were against the needs of the flesh, external forces on the flesh could not affect the inner soul. Here Luther is setting up why works, like in the catholic tradition could not free soul. Works do not affect the soul, whether they are good or bad. Rather only faith could free the soul. This belief was in direct opposition to the Catholic doctrine of doing good works to help earn salvation. Luther saw this as hypocrisy. It was putting something only God would do in the hands of man. Therefore, faith was the basis of truly freeing the Christian soul.
Furthermore, Luther was adamant that freedom of the inner person came from knowing that works could not save the soul. “They are not free, and they blaspheme the grace of God since to justify and to save by faith belongs to the grace of God alone.” Luther insisted that works do not set man free but could make him a sinner. If he performs works trying to earn salvation from God he is usurping God of what only God can grant. If he is under the false belief that his good work will save his inner soul then he continues to sin and his soul is bound by arrogance. Luther repeated often in Freedom of a Christian that only God could give salvation. “Which we do not perform but receive which we do not have but accept when God the Father grants it to us through Jesus Christ.” Salvation is not a task one can perform. It is not earned but received and the human soul, the inner person does not have the grace to be saved. It is by the mercy and compassion of God alone that salvation will be granted. Christ died for the sins of mankind and because of this God will grant salvation to some. Luther argues that Christians can only have faith in god for their salvation. Nothing they do will save or damn them.
Next, an important part of Luther’s thoughts on the freedom of the inner person was having the soul know its wicked nature. This was the purpose of the...