The following is what Martin Luther said in the 1523 pamphlet: “Secular Authority: To What Extent Should it be Obeyed?” It is certainly not all he said on the subject of the citizen’s and the Christian’s responsibility to the state. Indeed, it is in stark contradiction to the thrust of his thought, that the Christian should obey any command the government gives, regardless of how differently he should behave as a personal believer. Thus he saw two distinct spheres of life for the believer, his public and private lives.
Having said all that, he did say the following. His words are important, especially for Germany. What freedom for the soul exists there? A freedom to “believe” but not to obey the words of Scripture? Is that any freedom at all?
Words in blue are quotes of Scripture. Words in bold print have been emphasized by us.
"Now, you have just heard that no one but God can have authority over souls. Hence, Paul cannot be speaking of any obedience except where there can be corresponding authority. From this it follows that he does not speak of faith, and does not say that secular authority should have the right to command faith, but he is speaking of external goods, and that these are to be set in order and controlled on earth. This his words also clearly indicate, when he prescribes the limits to both authority and obedience, and says, “Render to every one his dues, tribute to whom tribute is due, custom to whom custom; honor to whom honor; fear to whom fear.” (Romans 13:7) "You see, temporal obedience and power apply only externally to tribute, custom, honor and fear. Likewise when he says, “The power is not a terror to good, but to evil works,” ( Romans 13:4) he again limits the [state's] power, so that it is to have the mastery not over faith or the Word of God, but over evil works." "Peter says, Acts 5:29, “We must obey God rather than men.” Thereby he clearly sets a limit to worldly government, for if we had to do all that worldly government demands it would be to no purpose to say, “We must obey God rather than men.”