13. With my lips I have pronounced all the judgments of Thy mouth. It is not enough to believe with the heart unto righteousness, unless confession unto salvation is also made with the mouth (Rom. 10:10). They who pronounce their own things acknowledge God neither with the mouth nor with the heart. And it must be noted that there are many who pronounce the judgments of the Lord and yet do not hide them in their heart nor believe them vigorously. Second, many others believe them vigorously and hide them in their heart, but are afraid to utter them openly because they do not want to offend, they do not want anger to be their lot, they do not want to lose friends and make enemies and persecutors. And therefore both of these give and grant the mutual interchanges to themselves and are not firm in the word of truth. For the first ones, who boldly speak the judgments of the Lord, while they do not have people whom they offend, would in any case be silent too, much more than the second group, if they felt persecutions, for the latter do not have faith in the heart, as do the former. Similarly, also the second ones would easily and more easily pronounce the judgments, like the first ones, too, if no one would be offended. Therefore it is no small boasting and the courage of a happy presumption to say: “With my lips I have pronounced all the judgments of Thy mouth.” Only those do this who have been taught with blessing and who have hidden the words of God, so that they may not sin against God. Therefore, I beg you, see the individual words: “With my lips,” because, as I have said, many easily reprove in their heart the vices of others which they see but do not dare to do it also with their lips. Second, “my,” because they applaud if they hear that evils are rebuked by the lips of others, although they do not dare to do it with their own lips. Third, “I have pronounced,” that is, I have stated it in public and out in the open, not only turned it over and whispered it with my lips. This shows that vices should be reproved openly, explicitly, and with confidence, so that the rebuke may go forth into the open and reach those whose concern it is; in order that there be no voice of flattery or of extenuation, which during the rebuking as it were backslides and would separate, so that it would appear to have wanted to rebuke more than it could or dared. Such people have it on their lips but do not pronounce it, that is, make it sound forth clearly, namely, not only with the sound of the voice, but more in giving expression to the vice and the circumstances of the sin. Fourth, he says “all.” because the one is not to be reproved and the other hushed up, the one sin of someone is not to be reproved and the other excused, but the bare vices must be reproved without respect of persons. Therefore he says “all.” It is a wonderful word, against which many flatterers act.
Fifth, “judgments,” which are the words of reproof and of the cross of Christ, in which is contained what evils of guilt must be avoided for the purpose of preserving righteousness and which evils of punishment must be borne for the sake of righteousness and Christ. So the Gospel judges, that is, reproves, sins so that they may be avoided, and chastises the old man that the righteousness of the inner man may make progress. And the things that pertain to these two in the Gospel are judgments, because they condemn sins and the flesh of sin. Sixth, “Of Thy mouth,” that is, “prescribed and pretaught by You, O Lord Christ.” For we should not rebuke and judge anyone out of our own head or thought, but according to the Gospel. There it is sufficiently stated what is to be avoided and what is to be endured, so that it is not necessary to stir up our passions for the reproval of another. For we easily get off the track, and therefore the words of Christ must be taken up. And thus it is clear for what reason the words of the Gospel and of the cross of Christ are called “judgments.” But “words” (sermones) are those which teach what blessings have been bestowed on us and which are still to be conferred, namely, concerning grace and mercy in the soul and the spiritual inner man, as he says below (v. 42), “I have trusted in Thy words,” namely, concerning the grace manifested and the glory promised.
Luther’s works, vol. 11: First Lectures 2