From the Confessions: The Smalcald Articles
Such people did not need repentance, for what would they repent of since they had not indulged wicked thoughts? What would they confess since they had not uttered words? For what should they render satisfaction? They were so guiltless of sinful deeds that they could even sell their surplus righteousness to other poor sinners! The Pharisees and scribes during Christ’s time were such saints.
Pulling It Together: This is a matter of justification, a matter upon which we must not give way even an inch. For faith in Christ is the only thing that justifies. If it were otherwise, Christ’s death is meaningless. Justification will never happen because we are good or holy enough for God, as if that could even happen. God sent his Son into a world of sin and unrighteousness to save it, not to give people more things to do that they cannot do at any rate. His death and resurrection are what matter—not the amount of our good deeds. Nor can we add others’ good works to our own, hoping that it all adds up to a righteousness that justifies God to us. The volume is not what matters; Christ is what matters. God justifies sinners through faith in Christ. There is no other way than to confess, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner,” for Jesus has done everything necessary to justify us to his Father.
Prayer: God, be merciful to me, a sinner. Amen.
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