July 4

Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor. 1 Peter 2:17

The secular government doesn’t extend any further than external and physical matters.  God can tolerate secular government because it doesn’t concern itself with sin, good works, or spiritual matters.  Instead, it handles other matters, such as guarding cities, building bridges, collecting tolls and taxes, providing protection, defending the land and the people, and punishing criminals.  So Christians should obey government officials as long as these officials don’t command them to do something against their consciences.  Christians obey without having to be forced because they’re free in all matters.

If an emperor or prince were to ask me about my faith, I surely would tell him, not because of his governmental authority, but because I should confess my faith publicly.  If, however, he ordered me to believe this or that, I would say, “Sir, take care of the secular government.  You have no authority intruding on God’s kingdom.  I will not obey you.  You cannot tolerate anyone intruding on your domain.  If someone oversteps their boundary without your permission, you shoot them.  Do you think that God should tolerate your desire to push him off his throne and seat yourself in his place?”

Peter calls the secular government merely a human institution. It has no power to interfere with the way God has arranged the world.  It has no power to give orders about faith.

Martin Luther, Faith Alone: A Daily Devotional

Edited by James C. Galvin

Timeless insights from one of the most important people in church history. Resounding across the centuries, Martin Luther’s prolific writings as a pastor, theologian, scholar, Bible translator, father, and more, remain powerful and richly relevant. Faith Alone is a treasury of accessible devotionals taken from Luther’s best writings and sermons from the years 1513 through 1546. This carefully updated translation retains the meaning, tone, and imagery of Luther’s works such as this gem:

Some people value good works so much that they overlook faith in Christ. Faith should be first. It is faith—without good works and prior to good works—that takes us to heaven. We come to God through faith alone. —Martin Luther

Through daily readings, Luther’s straightforward approach challenges you to a more thoughtful faith. Read one brief section a day or explore themes using the subject index in the back of the book. Faith Alone will deepen your understanding of Scripture and help you more fully appreciate the mystery of faith.

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