Luther’s Advice For Driving Satan Off: The Peril of Beer

From the Tischreden

On April 5 a pastor came from the church in Süptitz, near Torgau, to complain of apparitions and disturbances caused by Satan. He said that Satan disturbed his peace with nocturnal tumults and the smashing of all the utensils in his house. Satan hurled pots and dishes close to his head, so that they broke in pieces, and Satan annoyed him by laughing outloud, although he saw nothing of him. For a whole year, the pastor said, he had endured these and many other trials, so that his wife and children wished to leave [the house].

Luther responded, “Dear Brother, be strong in the Lord and firm in your faith! Don’t give in to that robber! Suffer the outward things and the minor damage that comes from the breaking of pots, for it can’t harm you in body and soul, as you have found, for the angel of the Lord is with you. Let Satan play with the pots. Meanwhile pray to God with your wife and children [and say], ‘Be off, Satan! I’m lord in this house, not you. By divine authority I’m head of this household, and I have a call from heaven to be pastor of this church. I have testimony from heaven and earth, and this is what I rely on. You enter this house as a thief and robber. You are a murderer and a scoundrel. Why don’t you stay in heaven? Who invited you to come here?’ In this way you should sing him his litany and his legend and let him play as long as he pleases.

“I was often pestered [by the devil] when I was imprisoned in my Patmos, high up in the fortress in the kingdom of the birds. I resisted him in faith and confronted him with this verse: God, who created man, is mine, and all things are under his feet.129 If you have any power over him, try it!”

Then he told a story about a woman in Magdeburg who, when Satan disturbed her, drove him away by breaking wind. “This example is not always to be followed and is dangerous,” Luther said, “because Satan, who is the spirit and author of presumption, is not easily mocked and put to flight. Reliance on such an example can prove that it’s not at all appropriate for somebody else. So it once happened that a horned specter of Satan lost his horn when a godly man boasted of his baptism, but when another man foolishly tried to imitate this example, he was killed by Satan.”

And that, my friends, is what will happen to you too, if you drink beer.