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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions
Concerning Repentance part 45

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Luke 7:36–38, 48–50

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Repentance 

Nor are special punishments always added, but contrition and faith always exist in repentance. In Luke 7:37–38, a woman who was a sinner came weeping to Christ. Contrition is recognized in these tears. Afterward she hears the absolution. “Your sins are forgiven” (Luke 7:48). “Your faith hath saved you; go in peace” (Luke 7:50). The faith that encouraged and consoled her is the second part of repentance.

Pulling It Together

In this passage, we see two kinds of sinners. One is dull in spirit, self-absorbed, and very capable of seeing the sin in others but unable to see it in himself. The second is overcome with sorrow over her sin. This contrition is the first step in repentance.

Later, Jesus speaks a word that would be shockingly unintelligible to the first sort of sinner, but to the second, it is the word of life. “Your sins are forgiven.” These words of forgiveness must be believed. There is no peace with God or with self until Christ’s word is taken to heart in faith. The dull in spirit will say such things as, “Who can forgive sins but God alone?” (Mark 2:7) or “Ah! Then we must do some work such as washing the feet of Christ to be forgiven.” Yet it was not her devotion that merited forgiveness. Rather, it was her faith, just as Jesus said. “Your faith has saved you.”

When sinners have faith in the forgiving God—instead of in their acts of devotion or other penitential works—they will, like the woman in our story, “go in peace.”

Prayer: Lord God, give me such grace that I may be truly sorry for my sin, but also truly believe that you forgive. Amen. 

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