A Jagged Contention: Perpetual Slavery

“[St. Paul] would dearly love to stir and persuade [the Galatians] to not let themselves be influenced by the false apostles and not to let these men ensnare them once more in the yoke of slavery. It is as though he were saying: ‘The issue here is no trifle or mere nothing; it is an issue between either endless, eternal freedom or slavery.’ For just as freedom from the wrath of God and from every evil is not political freedom or a freedom of the flesh but an eternal freedom, so the slavery of sin, death, and the devil, which oppress those who seek to be justified and save through the Law, is not physical slavery, which lasts a while, but a perpetual slavery. For self-righteous people of this kind, who take everything very seriously—and they are the ones whom Paul is discussing—are never serene and peaceful. In this life they are always in doubt about the will of God and are afraid of death and of the wrath and judgment of God; and after this life they will suffer eternal destruction as punishment for the unbelief.”

– Martin Luther, Lectures on Galatians, LW vol. 27, pg. 8.


Why does self-righteousness remove peace and serenity? Why does Luther couple self-righteousness alongside doubt and fear? Conversely, how does faith in the gospel give peace, serenity, and joy to the heart?

Share your thoughts in the comments below