From the Confessions: The Smalcald Articles
The procedure for confession was this: Everyone had to itemize all their sins—an impossible ordeal. Forgotten sins were absolved on the condition that they were confessed when remembered. Therefore, one could never know whether a sufficiently pure confession had been made or if it would ever have an end. So, the one confessing was steered to personal action, assured that a fuller confession and further humiliation and debasement before the priest would render satisfaction for sins.
Pulling It Together: Where is Christ in this procedure? Does the endless enumeration of sins leave any room for him? Our sins seem infinite when we consider our thoughts, words, and deeds: the things we think, and say, and do; the things we should have thought, should have done, and should have said. We ought to be truly sorry for these sins, but when the focus is on recalling individual sins instead of remembering that we have a Savior, there can be no peace with God. One will always be left with uncertainty, with the sense that not all has been confessed and that there has been insufficient remorse. This is the result of being absorbed with self, one’s sins, and the desire to overcome them on our own. If we were half so captivated by Christ, we would gladly trust him when he says, “Your sins are forgiven.”
Prayer: Forgive me, O God, for Christ’s sake. Amen.
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