From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession
Concerning Confession and Satisfaction
The word “satisfaction” is left over from this rite of public repentance. The holy Fathers were unwilling to receive the fallen or the disreputable unless their repentance had been first examined and exhibited publicly, as far as it was possible. There seem to have been many reasons for this. To chastise those who had fallen served as an example, just as the gloss on the decrees admonishes. It was also improper to immediately admit notorious men to communion. These customs have long since grown obsolete. Nor is it necessary to restore them since they are not necessary for the forgiveness of sins before God.
Pulling It Together: It may be useful, in terms of order in the church, to in some cases make certain people show that they are truly repentant. It is too easy for wolves to steal in among the sheep, so when some people have been dishonorable or have wandered away from the faith, but now want to be part of the church, it might be a good thing to hold them accountable for awhile. This could serve to safeguard the flock. We do this when calling new pastors. Not only are efforts made to hear a potential pastor preach, but candidacy requirements such as education must be met, references are called, and even criminal backgrounds are checked. Accountability is a good thing, but are these things needed in order for God to forgive sins? Absolutely not. It doesn’t matter how far you have fallen, how disrespectable you are, or if you are downright notorious (Gal 1:23); God cleanses the worst of sinners (1 Tim 1:15).
Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for loving me and forgiving me. Amen.
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