Let us now come to John, who is also an eloquent and powerful devastator of free choice. At the very outset, he represents free choice as so blind that it cannot even see the truth, let alone be able to strive toward it. For he says: “The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness does not comprehend it” [John 1:5]; and shortly afterward: “He was in the world, and the world knew him not. He came to his own, and his own received him not” [vv. 10 f.]. What do you think he means by “world”? Will you exempt any man from this description unless he has been recreated by the Holy Spirit? It is characteristic of this apostle to use this word “world” to mean precisely the whole race of men. Hence, whatever he says about the world applies also to free choice as the most excellent thing in man. Thus according to this apostle, the world does not know the light of truth [v. 10], the world hates Christ and those who are his [John 15:18 f.], the world neither knows nor sees the Holy Spirit [John 14:17], the whole world is in the power of the evil one [I John 5.19], all that is in the world is the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the pride of life [I John 2:16]. “You,” he says, “are of the world” [John 8:23]. “The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify of it that its works are evil” [John 7:7]. All these and many similar passages proclaim the glories of free choice, that principal part of the world and that which governs it under the overlordship of Satan.
The Bondage of the Will
Luther’s Works Vol. 33