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What Luther Says

True Confession, True Repentance

Martin Luther said that the Christian life is a life of on-going repentance.

Why? Because the question is not "Am I going to sin?" but "When am I going to sin?" And so we must prayerfully consider true confession and true repentance.

Of course, this is entirely consistent with the Word of God.

1 John 1:5-10 (ESV) 5 This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

In the above passage, John writes about faithfulness in our walk with God via true confession.

Our sinful pride rejects God's Word and seeks to deceive us so that we might not know ourselves as we are or know God as He has revealed Himself. God sees our true nature, and in Christ He reveals His nature which is both just and gracious to us.

The beauty of these verses from 1 John 1 is that for those who confess their sins, God is always faithful to His promise to forgive. This is just and right because of His Son, who has paid the price for our sins.

In 2 Corinthians 7:9-11 we have just a few verses that pack in 10 things that involves true repentance so let's take a look, especially after just prayerfully considering what true confession is all about.

2 Corinthians 7:9-11 (ESV) 9 As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us. 10 For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death. 11 For see what earnestness this godly grief has produced in you, but also what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what punishment! At every point you have proved yourselves innocent in the matter.

We name our sin as sin

2. We don't excuse it

3. We confess before we get caught

4. We come clean rather than having the details dragged out of us

5. We have an eagerness to make amends

6. We are patient with those we have hurt

7. We are willing to confess even in the face of consequences

8. We do not complain about the consequences

9. We are humble and teachable

10. We seek comfort in the grace of God as found in Jesus Christ, His Word, and His Sacraments (*I added the Word and Sacraments part myself)

[SOURCE: Wretched TV]

In the above text, we find that the Law changes the heart, making it open to God's mercy (2 Corinthians 7:9) and that guilt over sin is part of repentance (cf Acts 20:21).

In 2 Corinthians 7:10, we are cautioned against destructive guilt, which abandons a person in despair (i.e., depression), which can result in physical and spiritual death too (Romans 6:23).

The preaching of the Gospel must be added so that the repentance may lead to salvation and not to the Law's contrition or terrors

*- Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration of the Formula of Concord V 9

Finally, 2 Corinthians 7:11 tells us that repentance has "fruits" (Luke 3:8), one of which is to try to clear up what was wrong.

This is what true confession and true repentance is all about. However, let us never lose sight of the fact that on the other side of confession and repentance is Christ's undeserved forgiveness, grace, love, and mercy!

May the Lord teach us daily how great, how long, how wide, and how deep is His love for us and for ever person in this world.

In a Lutheran Layman's terms, let's pray that the Lord would give us hearts to believe and to know ourselves as we are. Then may we truthfully confess our sins, trusting in His forgiveness and mercy.

[NOTE: As you know, I am a newly converted Confessional Lutheran who recently escaped American Evangelicalism. That being said, please contact me ASAP if you believe that any of my "old beliefs" seem to have crept their way into any of the material you see published here, and especially if any of the content is not consistent with our Confessions and Lutheran doctrine (in other words, if it's not consistent with God's Word) so that I can correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray. Finally, you might discover that some of the earlier pieces I wrote on this blog definitely fall into that category since I was a Lutheran-In-Name-Only at the time and was completely oblivious to the fact that a "Book of Concord" containing our Confessions even existed. I decided to leave those published posts up only because we now have this disclaimer and only to demonstrate the continuing work of Christ and the Holy Spirit in my life. Thank you for stopping by and thank you in advance for your time and help. Grace and peace to you and yours!]


About JKR

Christian. Husband. Father. Friend.

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Thank you for visiting A Lutheran Layman! Please feel free to leave a comment or a question since we do not exercise censorship. We've seen a similar policy with other blogs and it's worth repeating: Please act as if you're a guest in my home, and we'll get along just fine. I think anyone would agree that the kind of back-and-forth that is characteristic of blogs/chat forums and social media is becoming tiresome for all of us. Still, we should confess, edify, and love (and contend and defend when needed). Bottom line? Search the Scriptures! Apply Acts 17:11 to anything and everything you find here and, if you do happen to disagree with something you find here (which is certainly ok), or think I'm "irresponsible" and "wrong" for writing it, then please refute my position by supporting yours with Scripture and/or the Confessions. I don't think that's an unreasonable request, especially for those who identify themselves as "Christians" here, right? Besides, Proverbs 27:17 tells us "Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another" and 2 Timothy 3:16 says, "all Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness." If you have an opinion that's great, I welcome it, but try to support it using God's Word. I mean, if the goal here is to help us all arrive at the truth of God's Word (myself included), then it should be easy to follow through on this one simple request (I'm talking to all you "Anonymous" visitors out there). Grace and peace to you and yours!

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