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Quotes by Martin Luther


The world is a den of murderers, subject to the devil. If we desire to live on earth, we must be content to be guests in it, and to lie in an inn where the host is a rascal, whose house has over the door this sign or shield, “For murder and lies.”


Marriage is the God-appointed and legitimate union of man and woman in the hope of having children or at least for the purpose of avoiding fornication and sin and living to the glory of God.


I had rather be in hell with Christ, than be in heaven without Him.


God delights in our temptations and yet hates them. He delights in them when they drive us to prayer; He hates them when they drive us to despair.


Temptations, of course, cannot be avoided, but because we cannot prevent the birds from flying over our heads, there is no need that we should let them nest in our hair


Certainly God could with His Spirit instruct and justify those whom He would, but it has pleased His wisdom more to instruct and justify those who believe through the foolishness of preaching. The Word is the channel through which the Holy Spirit is given. [There are biblical passages] against those who hold the spoken word in contempt. The lips are the public reservoirs of the church. In them alone is kept the Word of God… Unless the Word is preached publicly, it slips away. The more it is preached, the more firmly it is retained. Reading it is not as profitable as hearing it, for the live voice teaches, exhorts, defends, and resists the spirit of error. Satan does not care a hoot for the written Word of God, but he flees at the speaking of the Word… This penetrates hearts and leads back those who stray.


I simply taught, preached, wrote God’s Word: otherwise I did nothing. And then when I slept or drank Wittenberg beer with my friend Philip of Amsdorf, the Word so greatly weakened the papacy that never a prince or emperor did such damage to it. I did nothing: the Word of God did it all.


Our Lord God must be a pious man to be able to love rascals. I can’t do it, and yet I am a rascal myself.


Of whom shall I be afraid?  One with God is a majority.


I have covenanted with my Lord that He should not send me visions or dreams or even angels. I am content with this gift of the Scriptures, which teaches and supplies all that is necessary, both for this life and that which is to come.


The real and true work of Christ’s passion is to make man conformable to Christ, so that man’s conscience is tormented by his sins in like measure as Christ was pitiably tormented in body and soul by our sins.


“Abba” is only a little word, and yet contains everything. It is not the mouth but the heart’s affection which speaks like this. Even if I am oppressed with anguish and terror on every side, and seem to be forsaken and utterly cast away from Your presence, yet am I Your child, and You are my Father. For Christ’s sake: I am loved because of the Beloved. So this little word, “Abba,” Father, deeply felt in the heart, surpasses all the eloquence of Demosthenes, Cicero, and the most eloquent speakers that ever lived. This matter is not expressed with words, but with groanings, and these groanings cannot be uttered with any words of eloquence, for no tongue can express them.


Baptism signifies that the old Adam in us is to be drowned by daily sorrow and repentance, and perish with all sins and evil lusts; and that the new man should daily come forth again and rise, who shall live before God in righteousness and purity forever.


An angel is a spiritual creature created by God without a body for the service of Christendom and the church.


Were it not for tribulation I should not understand the Scriptures (Psm. 119:67, 71).


God creates out of nothing. Therefore, until a man is nothing, God can make nothing out of him.


If our goods are not available to the community, they are stolen goods.


Peace if possible, but the truth at any rate.


The only monarch who ever deserved that man should fall down before him was a child of poverty, whose life was spent in teaching, and who died an ignominious death.


Now the church is not wood and stone, but the company of people who believe in Christ.


I would not give one moment of heaven for all the joy and riches of the world, even if it lasted for thousands and thousands of years.


To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing.


Blessings at times come to us through our labors and at times without our labors, but never because of our labors, for God always gives them because of His undeserved mercy.


No one need to think that the world can be ruled without blood. The civil sword shall and must be red and bloody.


If a doctor, able to help, were at the side of a sick person and promised to help him from his trouble and advised him how to combat his ailment or the poison he had taken, and if the sick person knew that the doctor could help him but nonetheless said: Oh, get out, I won’t accept your advice; you are no doctor, but a highwayman; I am not sick, nor have I taken poison; it will not hurt me; and if the sick person wanted to kill the doctor, would you not say that this fellow, who persecuted and wanted to kill his doctor, was not only sick but demented, mad, and irrational as well?… But this spiritual madness – that we do not want to accept help when God’s Son wants to help us – is ten times worse. Should our Lord God not be angry and let hellfire, sulfur, and pitch rain upon such ingrates? For besides being sinners, we are also so wretched as to reject help and chase away and kill those who urge us to accept it.


I am more afraid of my own heart than of the pope and all his cardinals.


To fight against sin is to fight against the devil, the world and oneself. The fight against oneself is the worst fight of all.


Nothing is easier than sinning.


Resolved: that every man should live to the glory of God. Resolved second: that whether others do this or not I will.


God doesn’t love us because of our worth, we are of worth because God loves us.


Esau and Jacob were born of the same father and mother, at the same time, and under the same planets, but their nature was wholly different. You would persuade me that astrology is a true science?


To a believer no law is given by which he becomes righteous before God…because he is alive and righteous and saved by faith, and he needs nothing further except to prove his faith by works. Truly, if faith is there, he cannot hold back: he proves himself, breaks out into good works.


We are not made righteous by doing righteous deeds; but when we have been made righteous we do righteous deeds.


Good works do not make a good man, but a good man does good works.


It is impossible, indeed, to separate works from faith, just as it is impossible to separate heat and light from fire.


Faith, however, is something that God effects in us. It changes us and we are reborn form God, John 1. Faith puts the old Adam to death and makes us quite different men in heart, in mind, and in all our powers; and it is accompanied by the Holy Spirit. O, when it comes to faith, what a living, creative, active, powerful thing it is. It cannot do other than good at all times. It never waits to ask whether there is some good work to do, rather, before the question is raised, it has done the deed, and keeps on doing it. A man not active in this way is a man without faith. He is groping about for faith and searching for good works, but knows neither what faith is nor what good works are. Nevertheless, he keeps on talking nonsense about faith and good works.


Our faith in Christ does not free us from works, but from the false opinions concerning works; that is, from the foolish presumption that justification is acquired through works.


The higher people are in the favor of God, the more tender they are.


Faith must trample under foot all reason, sense, and understanding.


The Bible is the cradle wherein Christ is laid.


Remove Christ from the Scriptures and there is nothing left.


The idea that the service to God should have only to do with a church altar, singing, reading, sacrifice, and the like is without doubt but the worst trick of the devil. How could the devil have led us more effectively astray than by the narrow conception that service to God takes place only in church and by works done therein… The whole world could abound with services to the Lord…not only in churches but also in the home, kitchen, workshop, field.


What you do in your house is worth as much as if you did it up in heaven for our Lord God… We should accustom ourselves to think of our position and work as sacred and well-pleasing to God, not on account of the position and work, but on account of the word and faith from which the obedience and the work flow.


The works of monks and priests, however holy and arduous they be, do not differ one whit in the sight of God from the works of the rustic laborer in the field or the woman going about her household tasks, but that all works are measured before God by faith alone… Indeed, the menial housework of a manservant or maidservant is often more acceptable to God than all the fastings and other works of a monk or priest, because the monk or priest lacks faith.


There are three conversions: the conversion of the heart, mind and purse.


A religion that gives nothing, costs nothing, and suffers nothing, is worth nothing.


Learn to know Christ and Him crucified. Learn to sing to Him, and say, “Lord Jesus, You are my righteousness, I am Your sin. You have taken upon Yourself what is mine and given me what is Yours. You have become what You were not so that I might become what I was not.


I felt myself absolutely born again.  The gates of paradise had been flung open and I had entered.  There and then the whole of Scripture took on another look to me.


Either sin is with you, lying on your shoulders, or it is lying on Christ, the Lamb of God. Now if it is lying on your back, you are lost; but if it is resting on Christ, you are free, and you will be saved.


God is not hostile to sinners, but only to unbelievers.


We cannot give God anything; for everything is already His, and all we have comes from Him. We can only give Him praise, thanks, and honor.


Prayer is not performance but climbing up to the heart of God.


[It is not] as though the ungodly see God and His appearance as the godly will see Him; but they will feel the power of His presence, which they will not be able to bear, and yet will be forced to bear.


If I fail to spend two hours in prayer each morning, the devil gets the victory through the day and I have so much business I cannot get on without spending three hours daily in prayer.


Our Lord has written the promise of the resurrection, not in books alone, but in every leaf in spring-time.


Since God is a just Judge, we must love and laud His justice and thus rejoice in God even when He miserably destroys the wicked in body and soul; for in all this His high and inexpressible justice shines forth. And so even hell, no less than heaven, is full of God and the highest Good. For the justice of God is God Himself; and God is the highest Good. Therefore even as His mercy, so His justice or judgment must be loved, praised, and glorified above all things.


I never work better than when I am inspired by anger; for when I am angry, I can write, pray, and preach well, for then my whole temperament is quickened, my understanding sharpened, and all mundane vexations and temptations depart.


Music is hateful and intolerable to the devil. I truly believe, and do not mind saying, that there is no art like music, next to theology. It is the only art, next to theology, that can calm the agitations of the soul, which plainly shows that the devil, the source of anxiety and sadness, flees from the sound of music as he does from religious worship. That is why the Scriptures are full of psalms and hymns, in which praise is given to God. That is why, when we gather round God’s throne in heaven, we shall sing His glory. Music is the perfect way to express our love and devotion to God. It is one of the most magnificent and delightful presents God has given us.


A lie is a snowball; the further you roll it, the bigger it becomes.


It is impossible for a person not to be puffed up by his good works unless he has first been deflated and destroyed by suffering and evil to the point that he knows that he is worthless and that his works are not his but God’s


The fiery oven is ignited merely by the unbearable appearance of God and endures eternally. For the Day of Judgment will not last for a moment only but will stand throughout eternity and will thereafter never come to an end. Constantly the damned will be judged, constantly they will suffer pain, and constantly they will be a fiery oven, that is, they will be tortured within by supreme distress and tribulation.


For where God built a church, there the devil would also build a chapel.


It is not necessary for a preacher to express all his thoughts in one sermon. A preacher should have three principles: first, to make a good beginning, and not spend time with many words before coming to the point; secondly, to say that which belongs to the subject in chief, and avoid strange and foreign thoughts; thirdly, to stop at the proper time.


A good preacher should have these qualities and virtues:
1. He should teach systematically.
2. He should have a ready wit.
3. He should be eloquent.
4. He should have a good voice.
5. He should have a good memory.
6. He should know when to stop.
7. He should be sure of his doctrine.
8. He should go out and grapple with body and blood, wealth and honor, in the world.
9. He should let himself be mocked and jeered at by everybody.


There should be no sacraments except those found in the Bible: I can find only two, the Lord’s Supper and Baptism.


The drawing is not like that of the executioner, who draws the thief up the ladder to the gallows; but is a gracious allurement, such as that of the man whom everybody loves, and to whom everybody willing goes.


Of fasting I say this: It is right to fast frequently in order to subdue and control the body. For when the stomach is full, the body does not serve for preaching, for praying, or studying, or for doing anything else that is good. Under such circumstances God’s Word cannot remain. But one should not fast with a view to meriting something by it as by a good work.


The Holy Spirit has no skeptic. He has written neither doubt nor mere opinion into our hearts, but rather solid assurances, which are more sure and solid that all experience and even life itself.


The Christian is supposed to love his neighbor, and since his wife is his nearest neighbor, she should be his deepest love.


The God of this world is riches, pleasure and pride.


To whatever we look for any good thing and for refuge in every need, that is what is meant by “god.” To have a god is nothing else than to trust and believe in him from the heart… To whatever you give your heart and entrust your being, that, I say, is really your god.


Our Lord and Master Jesus Christ, in saying, Repent Ye, intended that the whole of the life of believers should be repentance.


Faith honors him whom it trusts with the most reverent and highest regard since it considers him truthful and trustworthy. There is no other honor equal to the estimate of truthfulness and righteousness with which we honor him whom we trust. Could we ascribe to a man anything greater than truthfulness and righteousness and perfect goodness?


Faith is a living, daring confidence in God’s grace, so sure and certain that a man could stake his life on it a thousand times.


Night and day I pondered until I saw the connection between the justice of God and the statement that “the just shall live by his faith.” Then I grasped that the justice of God is that righteousness by which through grace and sheer mercy God justifies us through faith. Thereupon I felt myself to be reborn and to have gone through open doors into paradise.


I beg every devout Christian not to despise the simplicity of language and the stories found in the Old Testament. He should remember that, however, simple the Old Testament may seem, it contains the words, works, judgments and actions of God Himself. Indeed the simplicity makes fools of the wise and the clever, and allows the poor and simple to see the ways of God. Therefore submit your thoughts and feelings to the stories you read, and let yourself be carried like a child to God.


Christendom must have men who are able to floor their adversaries and take armor and equipment from the devil, putting him to shame.  But this calls for strong warriors who have complete control of Scripture, can refute a false interpretation, know how to wrest the sword they wield, that is their Bible passages, from the hands of the adversaries and beat them back with them.


Therefore when I admonish you to confession I am admonishing you to be a Christian.


If Sunday were anywhere made holy merely for the day’s sake or its observance set on a Jewish foundation, “Then I order you to walk on it, to ride on it, to dance on it, to feast on it, to do anything that shall remove this encroachment on Christian Liberty.”


What greater rebellion against God, what greater wickedness, what greater contempt of God is there than not believing His promise? For what is this but to make God a liar or to doubt that He is truthful.


At last, by the mercy of God, meditating day and night, I gave heed to the context of the words, namely, “In it the righteousness of God is revealed, as it is written, ‘He who through faith is righteous shall live.’” There I began to understand that the righteousness of God is that by which the righteous lives by a gift of God, namely by faith. And this is the meaning: the righteousness of God is revealed in the gospel, namely, the passive righteousness with which merciful God justifies us by faith, as it is written, “He who through faith is righteous shall live.” Here I felt that I was altogether born again and had entered paradise itself through open gates.


When the article of justification has fallen, everything has fallen… This is the chief article from which all other doctrines have flowed… It alone begets, nourishes, builds, preserves, and defends the church of God; and without it the church of God cannot exist for one hour. [It is] the master and prince, the lord and ruler, and the judge over all kinds of doctrines.


Now the article of justification, which is our sole defense, not only against all the force and craft of man, but also against the gates of hell, is this: that by faith only in Christ, and without works, we are pronounced righteous and saved.


Sin is essentially a departure from God.


It is the part of a Christian to take care of his own body for the very purpose that by its soundness and well-being he may be enabled to labor for the aid of those who are in want, and thus the stronger member may serve the weaker member.


The mystery of the humanity of Christ, that He sunk Himself into our flesh, is beyond all human understanding.


Earth has nothing more tender than a woman’s heart when it is the abode of piety.


The human heart is like a ship on a stormy sea driven about by winds blowing from all four corners of heaven.


How soon “not now” becomes “never.”


Monastic vows rest on the false assumption that there is a special calling, a vocation, to which superior Christians are invited to observe the counsels of perfection while ordinary Christians fulfill only the commands; but there simply is no special religious vocation since the call of God comes to each at the common tasks.


Let the wife make her husband glad to come home and let him make her sorry to see him leave.


To have peace and love in a marriage is a gift that is next to the knowledge of the gospel.


A layman who has the Scripture is more than Pope or council without it.


The highest form of worship is the preaching of God’s Word..


It is neither safe nor prudent to do anything against conscience.


Faith is from God, not from man. Man can do nothing to earn or receive it.


Faith, if it is to be sure and steadfast, must lay hold upon nothing else but Christ alone, and in the conflict and terrors of conscience it has nothing else to lean on but this precious pearl Christ Jesus. So, he who apprehends Christ by faith, although he be terrified with the law and oppressed with the weight of his sins, yet he may be bold to glory that he is righteous. How? Even by that precious jewel Christ Jesus, whom he possesses by faith.


May a merciful God preserve me from a Christian Church in which everyone is a saint! I want to be and remain in the church and little flock of the fainthearted, the feeble and the ailing, who feel and recognize the wretchedness of their sins, who sigh and cry to God incessantly for comfort and help, who believe in the forgiveness of sins.


Faith…unites the soul with Christ, as a bride is united with her bridegroom. From such a marriage, as [the apostle] Paul says, it follows that Christ and the soul become one body, so that they hold all things in common, whether for better or worse. This means that what Christ possesses belongs to the believing soul, and what the soul possesses belongs to Christ. Thus Christ possesses all good things and holiness; these now belong to the soul. The soul possesses lots of vices and sin; these now belong to Christ… Now is not this a happy business? Christ, the rich, noble and holy bridegroom, takes in marriage this poor, contemptible and sinful little prostitute, takes away all her evil and bestows all His goodness upon her! It is no longer possible for sin to overwhelm her, for she is now found in Christ.


It ought to be the primary goal of every Christian to put aside confidence in works and grow stronger in the belief that we are saved by faith alone. Through this faith the Christian should increase in knowledge not of works but of Christ Jesus and the benefits of his death and resurrection.

Recommended Books

On the Freedom of a Christian

Martin Luther

The Bondage of the Will

Martin Luther