From the Confessions: The Smalcald Articles – part 89
Here we see how blind reason fumbles about in matters pertaining to God, seeking consolation by its own works and imagination, unable to consider Christ and faith. If we observe such contrition in the light, we see that it is manufactured, fictitious idea, resulting from people’s own powers, without faith and without knowledge of Christ. A poor sinner reflecting on his own lust and desire for revenge, would sometimes laugh rather than weep, unless he had either been truly struck by the Law, or had been hopelessly tormented with a troubled spirit by the devil. Otherwise, such contrition was undoubtedly mere hypocrisy. It did not kill the lust for sins. That person should have been sorry, yet if free to do so, he would rather have continued to sin.
Pulling It Together: Repentance and confession are not things we do simply because it is that time of the week. These things happen when we have a heartfelt sadness for sin. That sorrow is not something we contrive out of religious or civil fear. It happens because the Holy Spirit has cut us to the heart, hitting us as with a hammer with the Word of God (Jer 23:29), stunning us, and dropping us to our knees. In that position of the heart, we may look up to Christ with true, repentant faith, and know that he forgives us.
Prayer: Search me, O God, know my heart, and find the wicked way in me. Amen.
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