“There is, according to Luther, something much more drastically wrong with man than any particular list of offenses, which can be enumerated, confessed, and forgiven. The very nature of man is corrupt. The penitential system fails because it is directed to particular lapses. Luther had come to perceive that the entire man is in need of forgiveness. In the course of this quest, he had wrought himself into a state of emotional disturbance passing the bounds of objectivity. When, then, his confessor said that he was magnifying his misdemeanours, Luther could only conclude that the consultant did not understand the case and that none of the proffered consolations was of any avail.” 1
He had arrived at a valid impasse. Sins to be forgiven must be confessed. To be confessed they must be recognized and remembered. If they are not recognized and remembered, they cannot be confessed. If they are not confessed, they cannot be forgiven. The only way out is to deny the premise. But that Luther was not yet ready to do. Staupitz (a mentor in his monastery) at this point offered real help by seeking to divert his attention from individual sins to the nature of man. Luther, later on, formulated what he had learned by saying that the physician does not need to probe each pustule to know that the patient has smallpox, nor is the disease to be cured scab by scab. To focus on particular offenses is a counsel of despair. When Peter started to count the waves, he sank. The whole nature of man needs to be changed.” 2
Luther sought unto many policies to find rest for his soul. He became a mystic seeking to bring his own soul into submission to a vengeful God to do whatever pleased Him. He became a blasphemer of God’s goodness by fixating on God’s anger and even pictured the Son of God riding on a rainbow consigning damned souls to the flames of hell. Luther was in deep soul trouble.
“The cure came in a most surprising way and in an alarming manner to Luther. Staupitz arranged for Luther to become professor in the newly formed university at Wittenberg. Even more shocking to Luther, he was to assume the chair of Bible at the university. A young man on the verge of a nervous collapse over religious problems was to be commissioned as a teacher, preacher, and counselor to sick souls. Staupitz was practically saying, ‘Physician, cure thyself by curing others.’”3
“Luther set himself to learn and expound the Scriptures. On August 1, 1513, he commenced his lecture on the book of Psalms. In the fall of 1515 he was lecturing on St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans. The epistle to the Galatians was treated throughout 1516-17. These studies proved to be for Luther the Damascus road.”4
1 HERE I STAND by Roland Bainton Pg. 55; 2Ibid Pg. 56; 3Ibid Pg. 60 4Ibid Pg. 60