5. The pope neither desires nor is able to remit any penalties except those imposed by his own authority or that of the canons.
Martin Luther in this phrase talks about the power of the Pope to forgive. The church at that time believed that all the power to forgive came to the church through the Pope. Over the years that had come to mean that the church thought that the Pope could remit sins and take away even the earthly penalties for that sin. In other words he could make it so that you did not have to suffer the consequences of your sin in this life or the next.
Luther says that the Pope does not have the power to take away the penalties of sin, only those earthly penalties that he himself imposed on sinners. This was usually done as we said before as a prerequisite for forgiveness, the church called it “penance”. Penance was the actions that the Pope through the local priest required to be done by the repentant sinner in order to justify their forgiveness. Luther’s argument was that since the pope imposed that penalty he could also remit that penalty. But the natural consequences of sin in this life remain even though we are forgiven and counted right with God.
The way that Martin Luther read the scripture he felt that as long as we lived the human life here on earth we would be plagued with sin (separation from God) which would lead to a life of suffering the consequences of that separation played out in our actions. Luther believed that Christ’s death on the cross paid for all sin, restored the relationship with God, and gave us an everlasting life in Heaven. But we would still sin and suffer the consequences of sin in our human life until death when there would be no more sin only perfect union with God.
Dear God I rejoice in the new relationship that I have with You and in the power to overcome my sinful nature that You give through the Holy Spirit. Help me to live for You in all that I say and do throughout my life here on earth. In Jesus name, Amen.