Martin Luther: Bondage of the Will, part 2


The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? (Jer 17:9)

One common objection to God’s Sovereignty as revealed in the Scriptures is that it makes man a robot. I’ve heard Christians describe Calvinist doctrine as the idea that God brings people to salvation against their will and damns other ‘good’ people against their ‘free’ will. This view makes God into an arbitrary tyrant and presents a view point contrary to life experience.

In the following quote, Dr. Luther helps dispel the careless slanderings of the ignorant and foolish regarding the will…

The will, whether it be God’s or man’s, does what it does, good or bad, under no compulsion, but just as it pleases…” [1:82]

The Protestant view of the will is not that the will is not ‘free’ to decide which things pleases itself most. We affirm that the will is ‘free’ to do exactly as it pleases. But what does the sinful nature desire to do? Yes, we affirm that the will does what it pleases AND we understand that the Bible teaches that the will of the natural man pleases to sin.

Man’s Nature -> Man’s Pleasure -> Man’s Will

For example, I am free to eat whatever I wish, but yet I would never eat a bag of sand for lunch. In fact, I would never desire to. Is my will truly ‘free’ if it only desires to do that which pleases me? Can anyone deny that man’s will is by nature inclined to sin?

To eat a bag of sand would be utter foolishness to me because it is contrary to my nature to digest sand. So what does the Bible say about the inclination of natural man’s heart?

For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. …But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. (1 Cor 1:18-29)

But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. <1 Cor 2:14)

[1] The bondage of the will, Martin Luther, J.I. Packer, O.R. Johnston, Revell, 1990.

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One thought on “Martin Luther: Bondage of the Will, part 2

  1. Pingback: Was the Atonement Really Necessary? « Abraham's Seed

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