Today, those who are not Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox celebrate the day when Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the church door in Wittenburg and started what would become the Protestant Reformation.
Luther wasn’t intending on starting a religious revolution, he was hoping for a debate on the issues that concerned him.
In those days, nailing something to the church door was the equivalent of posting something on the town bulletin board.
He got that debate…and much, much more.
His courage and his scholarship launched the Reformation and the political and religious repercussions resound to this day.
Most will ignore this celebration in favor of celebrating Halloween…so I thought I’d combine the two with Luthers thoughts on the Devil himself.
He believed in “haunted houses”…
“It is not a unique, unheard-of thing for the Devil to thump about and haunt houses. In our monastery in Wittenberg I heard him distinctly. For when I began to lecture on the Book of Psalms and I was sitting in the refectory after we had sung matins, studying and writing my notes, the Devil came and thudded three times in the storage chamber [the area behind the stove] as if dragging a bushel away. Finally, as it did not want to stop, I collected my books and went to bed. I still regret to this hour that I did not sit him out, to discover what else the Devil wanted to do. I also heard him once over my chamber in the monastery.”
“Doctor Martinus said a great deal about witchcraft, about asthma and hobgoblins, how once his mother was pestered so terribly by her neighbor, a witch, that she had to be exceedingly friendly and kind to her in order to appease her. The witch had cast a spell over the children so that they screamed as if they were close to death. And when a preacher merely admonished his neighbor in general words [without mentioning her by name], she bewitched him so as to make him die; there was no medicine that could help him. She had taken the soil on which he had walked, thrown it into the water, and bewitched him in this way, for without that soil he could not regain his health.”
His method of spiritual warfare?
“Almost every night when I wake up the devil is there and wants to dispute with me. I have come to this conclusion: When the argument that the Christian is without the law and above the law doesn’t help, I instantly chase him away with a fart.”
and if that didn’t work…
“When the devil comes at night to worry me, this is what I say to him: “Devil, I have to sleep now. That is God’s commandment, for us to work by day and sleep at night.” If he keeps on nagging me and trots out my sins, then I answer: “Sweet devil, I know the whole list. But I have done even more sin which is not on your list. Write there also that I have sh.. in my breeches. Hang it around your neck and wipe your mouth on it.”
Luther thought and said some very strange stuff…some things that history rightly condemns him for.
We learn almost as much from his sin and error as we do his brilliant theological works.
Yet, history also recognizes the greatness of the man and God gets all the glory for how He used him.
I’ll leave you with one last quote…
“When I awoke last night, the Devil came and wanted to debate with me; he rebuked and reproached me, arguing that I was a sinner. To this I replied: Tell me something new, Devil! I already know that perfectly well; I have committed many a solid and real sin. Indeed there must be good honest sins — not fabricated and invented ones — for God to forgive for His beloved Son’s sake, who took all my sins upon Him so that now the sins I have committed are no longer mine but belong to Christ. This wonderful gift of God I am not prepared to deny [in my response to the Devil], but want to acknowledge and confess.”
Happy Reformation Day…don’t eat too much candy.
If the devil shows up, you know what to do…