The battle between flesh and spirit within us rages back and forth. One is tempted to ask, whether the almighty Spirit is not able to overcome the dead flesh. Yet in this matter we people do have a certain liberty – even if it is only with a negative inclination and bias. The almighty creator has various creatures which he determines absolutely. With us human beings however he has left us with a measure of freedom and self-determination. The world on which we dwell is an imposing body for sure. Yet God’s mighty word reigns absolutely and even irresistibly on it. How small in comparison with this world is the minuscule human being? Yet in its moral life it doesn’t take coercion freely. That really is our Lord God’s most wonderful prerogative to have created free beings besides himself. That’s what people are. If he is converted, he receives a new life. In the pedagogy through word and sacrament he gains strength of youth to do good. Yet if he resists this, he remains what he is. Therefore don’t resist. Let the Spirit rule. He’ll rejuvenate – yes more that that, he’ll recreate you as Christ’s new creation. Use this new vigour and drive eagerly. Lying fallow it falls into disrepair and may even get lost again. Awaken the gift that is in you. The victory will surely follow – and victory after victory. The apostle would not admonish the Galatians to walk by the Spirit if that was not possible by divine encouragement and input.
Oh exulted Lord and God! You give us your Holy Spirit as a sure guide and comforter, so that he would daily encourage, comfort, teach and reprimand us in his most holy Word. Awaken our ears that we would hear clearly. Grant us hearts to trust in you completely. Rule our thoughts and minds that we would faithfully obey you and your instructions. In all uncertainty guide us safely, in despondency revive and restore us, in rebellion convert us and let our ways be your ways and help us out from the unrest in this time to the peace and joy in joy there. Amen. (Hermann Bezzel)
I teach you how to shun and flee What harms your soul’s salvation, Your heart from every guile to free, From sin and its temptation. I am the Refuge of your soul And lead you to your heavenly goal. (Johann Scheffler, 1624-1677 tr Charles Schaeffer, 1813-1896)
This is a rather free translation of Wilhelm Löhe’s devotion for the fourteenth Sunday after the high holiday and festival of the Holy Trinity. It is found on Pg. 313 in Lob sei Dir ewig, o Jesu! (Eternal Praise to you o Jesus!) edited by A. Schuster and published in the Freimund Verlag, Neuendettelsau 1949.