81. This unbridled preaching of indulgences makes it difficult even for learned men to rescue the reverence which is due the pope from slander or from the shrewd questions of the laity.
Luther here says that because those who are selling indulgences are allowed to say whatever they want the people are thinking less of the pope. How could the pope who is supposed to be the most learned, holy and spiritual person in the church think that these claims about the power of indulgences are true? Luther says that it is hard for even the most learned theologian to stick up for the pope when he allows these wild claims to continue.
The truth was that Pope Leo X had squandered the treasury of the Holy Roman Church and now he needed more money to complete the renovation of St. Peter’s Basilica. He did not care if his salesmen lied about what the indulgences could do or not do as long as he got the money that he needed.
Most often the truth will come out and Luther was starting to see just how corrupt the pope and the whole Roman Church really were. The things that Luther was writing about indulgences he would soon be saying and writing about the “relics” of the Roman Church as well. They too were held to have great power to absolve sin if the right offering was made. He would take aim at the church’s practice of prayers to the saints, as something that is not taught in the scriptures. The office of the pope itself was even now coming under fire by the common people as they tried to make sense of the actions of the church and the pope.
Have you ever been guilty of letting the “end justify the means” in your life?
Dear heavenly Father please hear my prayer. I have not always looked to see if the things that I have said are completely true. I have even lied intentionally when it fit my purpose. Forgive me for the times that I have let my wants and desires control my tongue. Give me a clean heart O Lord. Amen.