41) Papal indulgences must be preached with caution, lest people erroneously think that they are preferable to other good works of love.
Luther still has the Roman Catholic understanding of good works helping knock years off of purgatory. But, he is growing in his understanding that simply buying pardon is worst of all.
42) Christians are to be taught that the pope does not intend that the buying of indulgences should in any way be compared with works of mercy.
Christians should be taught that, but this is not what the pope believed. You don’t get money for your building project by emphasizing works of mercy, which, of course, are free.
43) Christians are to be taught that he who gives to the poor or lends to the needy does a better deed than he who buys indulgences.
This would seem to go without saying, but Luther had to say it because the pope was alluding to the opposite.
44) Because love grows by works of love, man thereby becomes better. Man does not, however, become better by means of indulgences but is merely freed from penalties.
Buying forgiveness has nothing to do with relationships between people, where acts of love and mercy build up relationships.
45) Christians are to be taught that he who sees a needy man and passes him by, yet gives his money for indulgences, does not buy papal indulgences but God’s wrath.
To ignore the needs of others by paying for forgiveness is unrepentant sin.
46) Christians are to be taught that, unless they have more than they need, they must reserve enough for their family needs and by no means squander it on indulgences.
In Luther’s day giving to the church is not voluntary. The people are already required to pay the 10% tithe tax up front. Squandering on indulgences is considered an extravagance by Luther.
47) Christians are to be taught that they buying of indulgences is a matter of free choice, not commanded.
Because almost no one is able to read the Bible, the people don’t know that the Bible has nothing to say about indulgences.
48) Christians are to be taught that the pope, in granting indulgences, needs and thus desires their devout prayer more than their money.
The pope needs prayer to change his heart on selling forgiveness of sin. So he needs prayer more than money.
49) Christians are to be taught that papal indulgences are useful only if they do not put their trust in them, but very harmful if they lose their fear of God because of them.
By buying indulgences they are putting their trust in God’s forgiveness. It is trust misspent.
50) Christians are to be taught that if the pope knew the exactions of the indulgence preachers, he would rather that the basilica of St. Peter were burned to ashes than built up with the skin, flesh, and bones of his sheep.
Luther is talking the high road and assuming the pope doesn’t know about the selling of forgiveness through indulgences being done in his name. If he did he surely wouldn’t permit it. In actuality it is the pope doing the encouraging of their sales.