From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession
Concerning Confession and Satisfaction
Authors in the Church mention confession, but they speak of the rite of public repentance, not about an enumeration of secret offenses. The fallen or notorious were not received without specific satisfactions. They made confession to the presbyters so that satisfactions could be prescribed to them according to the measure of their offenses. But this is not the same as the enumeration that we are disputing. This confession was made, not because the forgiveness of sins before God could not occur without it, but because satisfactions could not be prescribed unless the kind of offense was first known. For different offenses had different rules.
Pulling It Together: Be very careful that you do not trust in your sorrow for sins. Your remorse does not merit God’s forgiveness. Being sorry—even though you go on at length about your specific regrets—does not repair your sinful condition or your broken fellowship with God. So, now you have to be even more careful that you do not place your trust in yourself, since the natural inclination is to try to make some satisfaction or atonement for your sins. But Christ has already accomplished that; and this is why faith is necessary. God does not favor you because of your remorse or because of your acts of penance. God favors you because you believe that he is gravely displeased with your sins, yet you have faith in Christ to absolve you of all your sin. God favors us because we have faith that the blood of Christ alone whitens our robes—that he cleanses us, covers our sin, and justifies us.
Prayer: Thank you, Holy God, for counting me among the faithful, for Christ’s sake. Amen.
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