From the Confessions: The Smalcald Articles – part 88
When any said that they were unable to repent or be sorry for their sins (as might have occurred in illicit love or the desire for revenge, etc.), they were asked if they wished or desired to have contrition. If they replied, “yes” (for who, save the devil himself, would here say “no”?), they accepted this as contrition, and forgave their sins on account of this good work. Here they cited the example of St. Bernard, etc.
Pulling It Together: I suppose the desire to repent should be considered a good thing. However, basing the forgiveness of sin on this aspiration or on any other so-called good work is not good news. It is not the gospel. Nor are contrition and confession the basis of for the remission of sin. Christ Jesus is the source of forgiveness. Faith in the good work of God in Christ is the only sufficient source of and reason for absolution. From this faith in Christ flow repentance, confession, and all other good works; but those good works are not the reason God forgives us. He forgives us for Christ’s sake, not because of our religious actions.
Prayer: Declare me righteous, God, through your grace alone because of the faith you have given me in your Son Jesus Christ. Amen.
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