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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions
The Small Catechism – part 208

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From the Word: And seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” (Mark 2:5)

From the Confessions: The Small Catechism, Confession of Sin

What is Confession?

Confession consists of two parts. One is that we confess our sins and the other is that we receive absolution, or forgiveness, from the confessor as from God himself, in no way doubting, but firmly believing that our sins are thereby forgiven before God in heaven.

Pulling It Together: Some people have a problem with one person forgiving the sins of another. This is largely because they do not understand whom it is who is actually doing the forgiving. For example, when a pastor stands before a congregation and announces that their sins are forgiven, he does so under the authority of another. When one absolves or acquits an individual or a group of people, it is actually Christ Jesus who is forgiving them. We announce the forgiveness of God under Christ’s authority.

It would be entirely foolish and arrogant for me to say, “Son, I forgive you for what you said to that man yesterday,” if I were doing so in my own authority. I have no authority in myself to forgive people for what they did not do to me. For example, I might say, “Child, I forgive you for hitting me,” but I would never say, “Child, I forgive you for hitting your sister.” Yet, I can and must say it, if called to do so for Christ, for he has the authority to do so on earth (Mark 2:10).

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for forgiving me of my sins. Amen.


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