MAN BETWEEN GOD
When Luther wants to designate the power to which every man is subject in his sinfulness, he speaks of “flesh,” of “the world,” and of “the devil.” He repeatedly places these three concepts together. Each of the three powers seduces men to sin and holds them captive in it; all three are opposed to God, to his word, and to faith. The effect of these powers on us cannot be completely differentiated. Both the devil and “the world” persecute God's truth; and our “nature,” “flesh,” and fleshly reason, together with the world and Satan, are cut off from and enemies of the word and faith.1 The devil works through our “flesh” and through “the world.” He is the lord of this world, as both Luther and the Bible say. Though the three powers are still quite distinct, all three concepts represent that unified will which surrounds us on every side and is opposed to God. It is in us, around us, and over us. For Luther, evil is much more than a power which grasps all mankind. It is both the effect and the realm of a personal will which grasps not only the will of the individual but also the joint will of all mankind; it is a superhuman will directed against God, one that has its own existence.
Luther presents a doctrine about the devil on the authority of the Holy Scriptures and in continuity with ecclesiastical tradition. What he says about the devil, however, and the way in which he says it, goes far beyond biblicism and traditionalism. He does not merely develop further a piece of theological and popular tradition; rather, on the basis of his own experience, he bears witness to the reality and the terribleness of the power of the devil. He does
1On “the world,” cf. WA 18, 766; BOW, 287. The world hates and perse-
cutes the righteousness of God proclaimed in the gospel. Luther often says that
the devil does the same.