From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession
When can a terrified conscience be able to decide whether it fears God for his own sake, or is fleeing from eternal punishments—especially in those serious, true, and great terrors which are described in the Psalms and the prophets, and which are certainly experienced by those who are truly converted? These great causes may be defined in letters and terms but in fact, they are not as distinguishable as these cunning sophists imagine.
Pulling It Together
Our anxieties about sin may sometimes be managed on the surface with words and semantics, but when the test is applied in the heart, these matters turn out differently. For the conscience cannot be fooled, nor will it find peace with God by spinning words. There is nothing to be done when the conscience is troubled other than to trust in and appeal to God’s mercy. His mercy is not decided by our love and devotion. Nor does he determine to not be gracious to us because we are simply frightened of wrath, damnation, and hell. This is easily understood when we finally come to believe that we are not in any way responsible for God’s actions. His favor toward us does not occur because we either love him or fear his punishment. His favor arrives because we be believe his word, that he is graciously disposed to us for Christ’s sake. We are able to repent and know with certainty that God forgives us when we have faith that God’s mercy depends upon Christ alone. This faith in Christ is what brings peace to troubled consciences.
Prayer: Holy Spirit, enlarge my vision of your love. Amen.
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