Stealing is not only physically robbing another's possessions, but it is also taking advantage of other people. Luther was very concerned about unjust business practices, His comments particularly challenge us today, since we live in a culture built on a free-market economy and generally agree that nay price charged to people is morally acceptable. On the other hand, Luther points out how working people also steal from their employers by not giving a full day's work for a full day's pay. Though written over 475 years ago, Luther's comments on the Seventh Commandment are amazingly relevant and timely, and they point out the biblical distinction between the two kingdoms. For example, toward the end of the discussion on the Seventh Commandment in the Large Catechism, Luther wisely notes that the duty of the Church is to reprove sin and teach the Word of God. It is the duty of governing authorities to restrain lawlessness. The Church, as a spiritual institution, does not order society or enact societal laws; this is solely the duty of the government.
Luther had been married for almost four years when he wrote the Large Catechism. His former life as a monk makes his comments on the Sixth Commandment all the more interesting and powerful. Luther keenly discerns that chastity is not a matter of vowing to live a celibate life, but of honoring God and one's spouse with one's whole being: thoughts, words, and actions. Marriage should be cherished and honored as a divine estate. God created this institution before all others and blessed it above all the rest; and since he brings children into the world through it, he provides all other estates for its support and benefit. Luther condemns forced celibacy within the Roman Church, but recognizes that God does exempt some from married life, either because they are unsuited to it or because they possess the supernatural gift of chastity. For Luther, God intended marriage not only to prevent sin, but also as a means by which husbands and wives love and cherish each other. Marriage is a precious good work far superior to the contrived spiritual estates of monks and nuns.
Luther distinguishes between spiritual and civil government and authority, which we commonly refer to as the doctrine of the two kingdoms. God takes care of us in the Church through the ministry of the Word and Sacraments, the Means of Grace. In our homes he cares for us through our parents. In the world, he cares for us by means of civil government. God gives to the civil government the authority to punish criminals and, when necessary, to execute them. The spiritual meaning of this commandment is that we are not to "kill" our neighbor in our hearts, with our thoughts, with our words, or with our hands. No one has the right, on his or her own authority, to murder another person. Only God may take a human life, and he entrusts this authority to civil rulers. So Christians can in good conscience wage war and punish and execute criminals under rightful government authority. Luther goes on to explain that we break the Fifth Commandment not only by acting against it, but also when we fail to protect our neighbor.
The believer prays boldly. The Prayer of the Day beautifully centers worship for this Sunday: God’s ears are open; let us then boldly ask for the blessings he promises. Today we focus especially on the Seventh Petition of the Lord’s Prayer which calls for our heavenly Father to “Deliver Us From Evil.” Today we will explore what Jesus meant by that and how it applies to our lives.