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From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession
Let them know that saints have believed this since the beginning of the world. For Peter clearly cites the consensus of the prophets. The writings of the apostles testify that they believe the same thing. Nor are testimonies of the Fathers wanting. Bernard says the same thing in words that are in no way obscure: “First of all, it is necessary to believe that you cannot have the remission of sins except by the indulgence of God. Then you must also believe that sins are forgiven through him. This is the testimony which the Holy Spirit asserts in your heart, saying: ‘Your sins are forgiven you.’ For thus the apostle judges that man is justified freely through faith.
Pulling It Together: It was common in Jesus’ time for people to think their physical ailments and disabilities were the result of their sins (John 9:2). Imagine the paralyzed man being carried on a cot to Jesus. His friends brought him so that he might be healed. In fact, it was the faith of the man’s friends that Jesus found notable, but Jesus responded to a more urgent need. When he saw their faith, he said to the man, “Your sins are forgiven you.”
This man had done no religious deeds or good works. Indeed, he probably thought himself to be a sinner. Yet Jesus rewarded the faith of his friends by forgiving the man and healing him of his paralysis. That man was not given the chance to do anything to try and merit forgiveness. All he could do was believe that he was forgiven and healed. He might just as well have continued to lay there on the cot, disbelieving what had happened.
This is the stricken state of all people. When Jesus says, “Your sins are forgiven you,” we either believe in him, rising and walking—or disbelieve, remaining paralyzed by lack of faith.
Prayer: Give me faith in you, Lord, so that I may rise and walk in newness of life. Amen.
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A Thirty-Day Walk through Luther's Small Catechism is a devotional book that follows the sections of Martin Luther's Small Catechism, and is designed for daily reflection on the Scriptures and the faith that we believe. Guiding the reader through a journey of Law to Gospel, the devotions are meant to show readers not only their need for grace, but where that grace is found in Jesus Christ. The book is not only meant as a basic daily devotional and prayer resource, it also serves as a brief overview of the themes of the Catechism.