Confession is Good for Our Soul
Confession and repentance essentially have similar meanings. Repentance is a two-step process: first recognizing the reality of our sin; and second, turning to God in faith for His mercy. If you were to define confession, it would be something like, “The act by which one admits or confesses sin(s) and the guilt of sin.” When one repents, they are speaking with a true heart to our Lord and Savior that they are sincerely sorry for their sin(s).
Absolution plays a very important part with repentance and confession. A definition for absolution might be: “to set free from sin.” In the name of Christ, a pastor forgives those who repented of their sins, affirmed their faith in Christ and want to do better, as spoken in Matthew 16:19; 18:18 and John 20:19-23.
Repentance and absolution go hand-in-hand. They are the means by which a believer continually identifies and rejects a rebellious life, and in faith, longs for and resolves to live in harmony with God’s will.
In our Lutheran Service Book (LSB, p.184) we have a good model to follow for our confession to God. It truly explains how we are a poor, miserable sinner, and how we confess all our sins to God and how we have offended Him. And how we are heartily sorry for them and sincerely repent of those sins. And we are asking God to be merciful to us a poor, sinful being.
Lutherans are all about repentance. When Martin Luther wrote his famous Ninety-five Thesis, the first four were all about repentance. This is because repentance defines the Christian life.
Someone who does not believe he is a sinner cannot be repentant—what’s to repent of if you are not doing anything wrong? So the first step to repentance can only happen after the law does its accusing work. People have to hear what God’s Word says so that they can recognize themselves as sinners and experience remorse over sin. The flesh of the world and Satan spend all their time telling us, “What you are doing isn’t bad, and that we are acting on what makes us feel good instead of following God’s Ten Commandments. The world and Satan want Christians to react on relativism and happiness. Our consciences are tested every day by our own sinful desires. Only the Law of God can cut us to our hearts, bring us to our knees, and show us where we are wrong. Once that message gets through and we know we are slaves to sin, the first part of repentance is accomplished.
But it is not enough just to know and believe we are sinners. If we stop there, we don’t realize how our sin separates us from God. And trying to get out of sin by our own power will only lead us to more despair or hopelessness, because we cannot stop sinning no matter how much we want to. So the second part of repentance is faith: believing God’s promise that in Christ we are forgiven and have new life, a life of turning away from sin rather than toward it. It means that with God’s help from the specific sins of which the Law has convicted us of. True repentance means to turn away from the sin and turn to God. To leave the sins that plague us.
For Lutherans, repentance occurs in the very practice of Confession and Absolution. Our pastors do not leave us hanging. They show us our sins from the Law, and they show us our Savior in the Gospel.
Our pastors convict us with God’s Word and then forgive our sins in Christ’s place and by Christ’s command. The call to repentance is one of love. Pastors are there to restart our broken hearts with Jesus’ words of total unconditional love for us.
People can fake apologies, but they can’t fake repentance. Repentance and confession need to be real and honest as we individually confess to our God. Repentance needs to be sincere and cut deep into the heart, in order for the heart to be repaired and healed by our Lord and Savior through forgiveness. And that forgiveness is only possible because of the CROSS.
Thank you, Jesus, for bringing daily comfort to my soul, from daily repentance for my sins. Amen.
God’s blessings to all you.
From your Deacon @ Immanuel