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Concerning Repentance – part 26
Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions

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Isaiah 38:14–15

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Repentance 

Scripture speaks of these terrors, as in Psalm 38:4, 8: “For my iniquities have gone over my head; they weigh like a burden too heavy for me.... I am utterly spent and crushed; I groan because of the tumult of my heart.” And, “Be gracious to me, O LORD, for I am languishing; O LORD, heal me, for my bones are troubled. My soul also is sorely troubled. But thou, O LORD—how long” (Psa 6:2–3)? Also, “I said, In the noontide of my days I must depart; I am consigned to the gates of Sheol for the rest of my years.... I cry for help until morning; like a lion he breaks all my bones; from day to night thou dost bring me to an end” (Isa 38:10, 13).

Pulling It Together: We are very weak. Jesus reminds us of this fact of human nature. “The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matt 26:41). Though we may want to do good and to please God by doing his will, we fail. And we fail miserably. If we were honest, we would agree with David, that our guilt is deep; it has risen over our heads. We are drowning in sin. The willing spirit therefore, chirps and moans before God. We look to his mercy, for there is not much that we can do in this flesh but walk humbly before God all our years.

This is the first step in repentance. When one admits this humbled condition and confesses the guilt of sin, then contrition has occurred. This contrition may arise either from fear or love, but finally, it should come from both fear and love. For we should fear and love God above all things. Yet one is not repentant if only contrite, since we are not only to fear and love God, but to also trust him above all things. As has been said here, this trust, or faith, is the second step in repentance. Being sorry for sin is not enough. Trying harder is not the answer either. We must come to trust God with a confident faith, that he cares for helpless, weak sinners such as ourselves, and is himself the answer to our problem, our help in these years of trouble, and the one who sustains us (Psa 54:4).

Prayer: Deliver me from this flesh, O Lord, and sustain me with your Spirit. Amen. 

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