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From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession
So, what we ordinarily call contrition, Paul names as the putting off of the body of sins which, because in these griefs the natural desire is purged away. And quickening should not to be understood as a Platonic fancy, but as consolation that truly sustains the life that is escaping in contrition. There are therefore, two parts here: contrition and faith. For as conscience cannot be pacified except by faith, therefore faith alone quickens, according to the declaration, “The righteous shall live by his faith” (Hab 2:4; Rom 1:17).
Pulling It Together
It is the height of arrogance for someone to think that justification occurs through the human acts of contrition, devotion, or other acts of love or good works. Of course, all but the most hard-hearted, stiff-necked, and puffed up egos are sorry when they sin. This grief begins to drive away the natural inclination, simply because that person begins to be concerned about the consequences of sin. But a concerned, or even a terrified conscience, cannot evoke peace with God, because contrition alone will always leave one in doubt about their relationship with God. Have I been sorry enough? Was I really contrite or was I just afraid of hell? Do I truly love God? Have I done the requisite good deeds to satisfy God for my sins? These are just a few of the questions that plague the troubled conscience.
So, the troubled conscience should ask this one question: Do I believe that Christ died for my sin? If we believe this, then we also believe that it is Christ alone who was raised for our justification, to make us right with God (Rom 4:25). This is why faith is necessary for repentance to occur. Faith believes that Christ makes sinners righteous before God. Faith does not believe that sinners make themselves righteous or justified before the Almighty. So those whom God has made righteous will live by their faith, while those who imagine they are responsible for their righteousness will remain in terror.
Prayer: Forgive me, God, and cleanse me of my sin, through Jesus Christ, my Lord. Amen.
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All God's Critters, Unit 4: New Testament is a Sunday School Resource Book for Preschool & Kindergarten.
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