AC XII: The Often Forgotten Article

In all the discussions surrounding the Third Use of the Law and antinomian leaning tendencies, we would do well to not forget about Article XII of the Augsburg Confession, Concerning Repentance:

“Concerning repentance, it is taught that those who have sinned after baptism obtain the forgiveness of sins whenever they come to repentance and that absolution should not be denied them by the church. Now properly speaking, true repentance is nothing else than to have contrition and sorrow, or terror about sin, and yet at the same time to believe in the gospel and absolution that sin is forgiven and grace is obtained through Christ. Such faith, in turn, comforts the heart and puts it at peace. Then improvement should also follow, and a person should refrain from sins. For these should be the fruits of repentance, as John says in Matthew 3[:8]: ‘Bear fruit worthy of repentance'” (AC XII.1-6).[1]

God’s message for preaching has always been a matter of repentance. There is no concept in Scripture or in our Confessions of a Gospel that is not connected with turning from sin. “So turn, and live”, declares the Lord God (Ezek. 18:32). “Repent and be baptized every one of you” (Acts 2:38). “Repent and believe in the Gospel” (Mk 1:15). Thus we also confess that the life of a Christian should be a daily drowning of the Old Adam; of daily repentance (SC IV.4). Luther also writes as the first of his 95 Theses, “When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, “Repent” (Matt. 4:17), he willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance” (AE 31:25).

Repentance is the turning away from sin to God, which comes about solely by the power of the Word of God. Where there is no turn away from sin to God, there is no repentance, which means there is no faith (recall that repentance consists of contrition and faith). Where there is faith, improvement follows, and a person should refrain from sins (AC XII.6).

While it is true that man is not made righteous but is rather declared righteous on account of Christ, repentance is not entirely outside of us. It is also a work that the Holy Spirit does within us. The Holy Spirit gives us a new heart (Ezek. 36:26); He gives us a new will and new desires (Rom. 7:22). The Gospel actually turns lives around. Thus, we confess that after conversion “the reborn human will is not idle in the daily exercise of repentance, but cooperates in all the works of the Holy Spirit which he performs through us” (FC Ep II.17). God says, “I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules” (Ezek. 36:27). The Formula says, “When… people have been converted and thus been enlightened, and the will has been renewed, then such people desire the good (insofar as they are born anew and are new creatures) and ‘delight in the law in the inmost self’ (Rom. 7:22)” (FC SD II.63). If repentance is only outside of us, then contrition and faith are only outside of us. Then we are still in our sins.

The preaching of repentance is thus paramount in our pulpits. Preaching the Gospel without repentance is preaching “peace, peace” when there is no peace (Jer. 8:11). The teaching about repentance is the chief topic of Christian teaching (Ap XXIV.46). To our doom, the preaching of repentance is often unheeded. Yet, it is the very teaching of faith. “The faith about which we are speaking exists in repentance, that is, it is conceived in the terrors of the conscience that experiences the wrath of God against our sin and seeks forgiveness of sins and deliverance from sin… Therefore, it cannot exist in those who live according to the flesh, who take pleasure in their lusts, and who succumb to them… ‘If you live according to the flesh you will die’ [Rom. 8:12]” (Ap IV.141-143). “Therefore the faith that receives the forgiveness of sins for the heart that is terrified and fleeing sin does not remain in those who succumb to their lusts, nor does it coexist with mortal sin” (Ap IV.144).

“Repentance means nothing else than to recognize sin truly, to be heartily sorry for it, and to abstain from it” (FC SD V.8). “For the gospel proclaims forgiveness of sins not to crude, secure hearts, but to those who have been crushed or are repentant (Luke 4:18)” (FC SD V.9). “Further, making alive should not be understood as a platonic image. But as consolation that truly sustains a life that flees [sin] in contrition” (Ap XII.46). “Since this faith is a new life, it necessarily produces new impulses and new works” (Ap IV.250). “Faith exists in repentance and not in those who walk according to the flesh” (Ap IV.319D).

This then leads us to the question of how pastors should rightly deal with the sinners they have been called to shepherd.

Not through silence. Isaiah 56:10-11 rebukes those watchmen who are silent dogs and are lazy to call those in their charge to repentance since their real concern is their own gain. They fear losing income should the people not like God’s message.

Not by absolving the impenitent. Those who refuse to be brought to repentance are to have their sins retained (Mt. 16:19; Jn. 20:23). There are many warnings in Scripture to not speak peace when there is no peace; for the prophet not to heal the wound of the people lightly when they are not ashamed of their abominations (Jer. 8:11; Ezek. 13:10). Those prophets are liars who “say continually to those who despise the word of the Lord, ‘It shall be well with you’; and to everyone who stubbornly follows his own heart, they say, ‘No disaster shall come upon you’” (Jer. 23:17).

Not by excusing their sins or misleading them. “My people—infants are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, your guides mislead you and they have swallowed up the course of your paths” (Is. 3:12). God says He will punish those spiritual leaders who mislead His people by not speaking His Word; those who strengthen the hand of evildoers so that no one turns from his evil (Jer. 23:14-40).

Not by befriending them. “But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one” (I Cor. 5:11).

Not by defending them. “They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them” (Rom. 1:29-32).

How then should a pastor rightly deal with those they have been called to shepherd? “Cry aloud; do not hold back; lift up your voice like a trumpet; declare to my people their transgression, to the house of Jacob their sins” (Is. 58:1). “Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth, and wander off into myths” (2 Tim. 4:2-4). “Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith” (Titus 1:13). “If I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, in order to save his life, that wicked person shall die for his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand. But if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, or from his wicked way, he shall die for his iniquity, but you will have delivered your soul” (Ezek. 3:18-19). “Thus says the Lord: Stand in the court of the Lord’s house, and speak to all the cities of Judah that come to worship in the house of the Lord all the words that I command you to speak to them; do not hold back a word. It may be they will listen, and every one turn from his evil way, that I may relent of the disaster that I intend to do to them because of their evil deeds” (Jer. 26:2-3).

A pastor is called by God to preach repentance. If he does not, he is not a faithful pastor. As Urbanus Rhegius wrote, “A pastor who ignores the article of repentance is no more useful to the flock of Christ than a wolf is to the sheepfold.”

However, the Law alone will not bring about repentance. It will not turn anyone towards God in faith. The Gospel is necessary to grant faith. The Gospel is the promise of remission of sins, justification and eternal life for the sake of Christ (Ap IV.5). Thus, to the contrite, broken heart, speak peace. “Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that her warfare is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned” (Is. 40:2). It is necessary to be “taught that those who have sinned after baptism obtain the forgiveness of sins whenever they come to repentance and that absolution should not be denied them by the church” (AC XII.1-2). Pastors are to absolve and restore those who repent (Mt. 16:19; Jn.20:23). The conscience cannot find peace without faith, and it is faith alone that makes alive (Hab. 2:4; Rom. 1:17; Ap XII.47). Only the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation (Rom. 1:16). It is the Gospel that bears the fruit of faith (Col. 1:5-6).

What about those persons, who, after having heard the Law and the Gospel, still remain in their sins without turning away from them? The only conclusion to which we can arrive is that the Word of God has not yet brought about contrition and faith in them. Where there is no fruit of faith, there is no faith. “As if true faith and the evil intention to remain and continue in sin could exist in a single heart at the same time! That is impossible. Or, as if they can have and retain true faith, righteousness, and salvation while being and remaining at the same time a rotten, unfruitful tree that bears no good fruits – yes, even when they remain in sin against their conscience or intentionally give themselves over to sin! This is improper and wrong” (FC SD IV.15).

Those who do not repent must be warned, “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God” (I Cor. 6:9-10). By Christ’s command, such persons are to have their sins retained.

Thus, as Scripture and our Confessions teach, the Law and the Gospel actually do something. The Law kills us and the Gospel makes us alive. This is not our work, but God’s work. Through the Gospel, we also receive the Holy Spirit, and He instills in us a new will. This results in a change in a Christian’s life for the better. This is both an internal and an external change. There is a necessary new obedience. Good works follow faith. Faith gives the believer new impulses and desires. Those who do not turn from their sins and remain impenitent have not been converted. They do not have faith. Thus, no faithful pastor will absolve or commune them, but will rather lovingly call them to repentance.

For the repentant there is forgiveness. Yes, we daily sin much and surely deserve nothing but punishment (SC III), therefore our entire lives are lives of repentance. We are not forgiven on account of our avoidance of sin but solely on account of Jesus’ death in our place. Through daily contrition and repentance, we die to sin and live to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Christ will not break a bruised reed or quench a faintly burning wick (Is. 42:3). He sympathizes with our weaknesses, as He was tempted in every respect as we are, yet without sin (Heb. 4:15).

When you feel all alone in temptation and think that no one understands; when it seems like your whole life is taken over by some desire, know that you are not alone. Jesus is there and He sympathizes with your weaknesses. He knows what it’s like to be tempted. He suffered when tempted, so His heart aches when He sees you suffering in temptation, and He helps you in temptation (Heb. 2:18).

Jesus sympathized with your weaknesses to the point of His death on the cross. It is for you that Jesus suffered and died. It is for you that He rose again. It is for you that He lives and reigns to all eternity.

[1] All quotations from the Book of Concord are from Robert Kolb & Timothy J. Wengert (eds.), The Book of Concord: The Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2000).

About Pastor Johannes Nieminen

Pastor Johannes (John) Nieminen serves Zion Lutheran Church in Melville and Trinity Lutheran Church in Neudorf, Saskatchewan, Canada. After a decade-long foray in business following his undergraduate degree, he attended Concordia Lutheran Theological Seminary in St Catharines, Ontario, graduating with a Master of Divinity degree in 2014. He is married to Lydia and they have been blessed with three children: Ethan, Summerlee, and Jacob. His sermons are posted weekly at zionlutheranmelville.com.

Comments

AC XII: The Often Forgotten Article — 40 Comments

  1. This sentence contains just about everything that is wrong about what Lutheran pastors teach about repentance, “Repent and be baptized every one of you” (Acts 2:38 ). “Repent and believe in the Gospel” (Mk 1:15 ). Thus we also confess that the life of a Christian should be a daily drowning of the Old Adam; of daily repentance (SC IV.4). Luther also writes as the first of his 95 Theses, “When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, “Repent” (Matt. 4:17 ), he willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance” (AE 31:25).” Note, I wrote, “what Lutheran pastors teach”, not what Scripture and the Confessions teach.
    C.F.W. Walther taught, Thesis XII, “One of the principal reasons why many at this point mingle Law and Gospel is that they fail to distinguish the daily repentance of Christians from the repentance which precedes faith.” The Confessions confirm this teaching.
    If we examine the statement that I have cited from the posting, we find as follows:
    “Repent and be baptized every one of you” (Acts 2:38 ). This is the one time Repentance that every Christian undergoes when, through the work of the Holy Spirit, the person repents and is baptized. This Repentance is a one time event.
    “Repent and believe in the Gospel” (Mk 1:15 ). Also the one time repentance.
    “Thus we also confess that the life of a Christian should be a daily drowning of the Old Adam; of daily repentance (SC IV.4).” This refers to the daily repentance of the Christian. The problem with it is that it cannot be found in Scripture. Luther claims that this is found in Romans 6. If someone would be kind enough to tell me where in Romans 6 this teaching is found, I will be very thankful.
    “When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, “Repent” (Matt. 4:17 ), he willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance” (AE 31:25).” The First of the Theses never made it into the Book of Concord; therefore, unless there are overriding Scriptural reasons to believe this to be true, we do no need to believe it. Later in life, Luther commenting on it, said something to the effect that “of course, we repent daily when we pray ‘and forgive us our trespasses.’” A far cry from “the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.
    No, the more important part is to believe the Gospel (Mark 1:15). That is indeed a life-long enterprise, but it is a joyful one. Regretting ones sins is part of it, but let us not put the cart before the horse.
    Peace and Joy!
    George A. Marquart

  2. @George A. Marquart #1

    I certainly agree with Walther that there is a daily repentance of Christians which is distinct from the repentance which precedes faith, the latter being repentance in the narrow sense. If you examine the definition of repentance as we have it in the Lutheran Confessions and cited in the article, it consists of contrition and faith. It sounds like you agree that Christians should be contrite and have faith, so I am not understanding your point of contention. Is it just the use of the word “repentance” for Christians?

  3. In his little book on the joys of piety, Will Weedon talks about the daily habit of prayer. He reminds us that Luther in his Small Catechism set up godly habits about praying. Luther encourages us to pray the Lord’s Prayer (Vater unser) on rising in the morning, before and after each meal, and at bedtime (8 times a day (and 9 times on Sunday)). This may still not constitute an “entire life” or a “far cry,” but it does tell us that Luther is expecting us to beg for and to grant forgiveness of sins many times a day. He’s not just being flippant.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dEA9omWTWTQ

  4. Fr. Nieminen

    Very good piece. Thank you.

    Brother Marquart, I, likewise, am not quite sure of what you are saying, since it is clear that repentance (μετανοέω) is to change, be turned – something all of us must do daily. Yes, the Gospel is the only salve, but putting the Gospel before the Law is to ask the cart to pull the horse.

    Perhaps I have somehow misunderstood you, since I disagree with neither your Walther or Luther quotes. Pax.

  5. Pastor Nieminen: Here are my points of contention:
    1. In the four statements I listed, both meanings of repentance were used without differentiating between them. What is the point of agreeing with Walther, when in practice you ignore him. What it amounts to is urging us to repent with words that apply only to a repentance in the past that cannot be repeated.
    2. Luther’s First Thesis, with regard to “the whole life being one of repentance” is a reflection of his monastic experience, before he understood the Gospel. It should not be used to teach Christians.
    3. With regard to the “daily drowning of the Old Adam”, besides not being Scriptural, it makes no sense. You have to remember that Luther is literally writing about killing the Old Adam: “soll ersäuft werden und sterben.” It is not in our power to do that, inasmuch as, if we kill the “peccator” part of ourselves, the “iustus” will die also. Somehow we will have to come to grips with the fact that God loves us in spite of the fact that we sin, and He will not love us more if we sin less, nor less if we sin more. (The Sin against the Holy Ghost is a special case, and should not be used in persuasion, except for extraordinary circumstances.)
    Overall, I suggest that making repentance the central point of our faith, we ignore what our Lord said during Lent: on the night He was betrayed, before St. Peter had denied Him, and before all of the Apostles had abandoned Him, when according to our tradition all is sorrow and darkness, He gave them this message, which should be the chief message of Lent, John 16:22, “So you have pain now; but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.” This He said just before, Hebrews 12:2, “…for the joy that was set before Him (He) endured the cross, disregarding its shame.”
    Moreover, here is St. Paul, Romans 14:17, “For the Kingdom of God is not food and drink, but righteousness, and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”
    So don’t underrate joy, even during Lent.
    Peace and Joy!
    George A. Marquart
    PS: Joanne and jb, please consider this a response to your comments as well.

  6. Here is Luther’s third set of theses in the antinomian debates of 1538. He did not change his mind about the Christian life being one of repentance.

    5. The repentance of the believers in Christ goes beyond actual sins, is ongoing, and stretches to death throughout the entire life.
    6. For theirs it is to detest and hate the disease or sin of nature to the end.
    7. For Christ rightly says about all who are his (Mark 1:15): “Repent;” that is, he wants the entire lives of those who are his to be repentance.
    8. For the sin in our flesh lasts the entire time of life and strives against the spirit, its adversary.
    9. This is why all works done after justification are nothing else than repentance or the good intention against sin.
    10. For nothing else happens than that the sin that is shown by the law and forgiven in Christ is driven out.
    11. Thus it was incumbent upon the sons of Israel, after they had obtained the land of Canaan, to drive out the Jebusites that lived within their boundaries.
    12. And thus to drive out the remaining Jebusites from the area was not a smaller work than to invade the land in the beginning.
    13. Thus it is not much less to persecute the remaining sin through perpetual repentance than to begin to detest it in the beginning.
    14. Whence it comes that the saints and righteous–because God trains them through the law in this way–are often sad and grieving because of sins.
    15. Although they, their sins having been forgiven, nonetheless are in God’s grace and ought to rejoice in the Lord.

  7. George –

    I must disagree. You did not address what I said specifically, and your brother taught me how to say things clearly. Repentance (μετανοέω) is what it is independent of whatever issue Luther had, as you outlined.

    Must I repent of my sins – confess them daily? That goes without saying – I must. Your contention that there are “two” meanings of repentance is a bit beyond the pale, no matter at which point in Luther’s life he spoke of it. That seems to be a useless point. Repentance/change μετανοέω simply is what it is. As one comes to faith, one is changed. In daily confession, one is changed. That does NOT change.

    I don’t desire any contention in or with my words here, but yet again, I must ask – what specifically is your point?

  8. @George A. Marquart #5

    Hi George,
    You’ve brought up these questions here before. Last time I was reading through the Book of Concord and had not yet read the Smalcald Articles. Therein (Article III), in paragraphs 40 and 43, Luther speaks about the life of the Christian being a life of repentance, e.g.

    “And in Christians this repentance continues until death, because, through the entire life it contends with sin remaining in the flesh, as Paul, Rom. 7:14-25, [shows] testifies that he wars with the law in his members, etc.; and that, not by his own powers, but by the gift of the Holy Ghost that follows the remission of sins. This gift daily cleanses and sweeps out the remaining sins, and works so as to render man truly pure and holy.”

    I don’t believe Luther meant to say that everything we need to do in life is repentance, but rather that repentance is a part of Christian life for the duration of life, and something which is requisite. It is also good, for the second part of repentance is the faith given us to believe we are forgiven. It’s a cycle of humility and blessedness.

    I find Pastor Fisk’s quote on repentance to be particularly helpful as regards contrition in the Christian life:

    “The mark of the Christian is not that he ceases to sin, but that he ceases to justify his sin, ceases to love his sin; begins to despise it.”

    Hope that helps.

  9. @jb #7

    jb: I cannot be clearer than the three numbered points posted above.
    repentance. In the interest of clarity, here it is again, Thesis XII, “One of the principal reasons why many at this point mingle Law and Gospel is that It is not my contention, but C.F.W. Walther’s about the two types of they fail to distinguish the daily repentance of Christians from the repentance which precedes faith.” If the problem is “failure to distinguish”, then they must be two different things.
    “Repentance/change μετανοέω simply is what it is. As one comes to faith, one is changed. In daily confession, one is changed. That does NOT change.” I know that the repentance prior to conversion is followed by change, or, as our Lord told Nicodemus, we become new creatures, born of water and the Spirit. But where does Scripture tell us about the change that takes place as a result of daily confession?
    Peace and Joy!
    George A. Marquart

  10. @jwskud #8

    Hello again, jwskud.
    “And in Christians this repentance continues until death” is a mistranslation from the German. The word that Luther used, that is translated as “continues” is “währen”. I quote from „Deutsches Wörterbuch von Jacob Grimm und Wilhelm Grimm“, the most respected German etymological dictionary, „1) die Grundbedeutung ist die von ‘Bestand haben, in seinem Zustand verharren’.“ My translation: the fundamental meaning is this, ‘to have validity, to remain in its condition.” Luther is not saying that we continue repenting, but that this repentance is valid for the entire life. That is precisely what takes place when we repent prior to conversion.
    With regard to the Fisk quote, if my experience is worth anything, then not only do we begin to despise the sin we commit, but we begin to despise ourselves for committing sin. You would think that is a good and pious thing, but fundamentally it is a denial of God’s love for sinners. We have to be careful not to despise what God loves.
    Peace and Joy!
    George A. Marquart

  11. George – I wasn’t going to further, but your question –

    “But where does Scripture tell us about the change that takes place as a result of daily confession?”

    Nagged at me.

    Pastor Nieminen, who wrote a thoroughly confessional article, actually answered your question in his very first quote from Article XII:

    “Concerning repentance, it is taught that those who have sinned after baptism obtain the forgiveness of sins whenever they come to repentance and that absolution should not be denied them by the church. Now properly speaking, true repentance is nothing else than to have contrition and sorrow, or terror about sin, and yet at the same time to believe in the gospel and absolution that sin is forgiven and grace is obtained through Christ. Such faith, in turn, comforts the heart and puts it at peace. Then improvement should also follow, and a person should refrain from sins. For these should be the fruits of repentance, as John says in Matthew 3[:8]: ‘Bear fruit worthy of repentance’” (AC XII.1-6).

    Bearing fruits of repentance is NOT limited to merely the newly converted in their conversion. That is beyond the pale. Otherwise, one is treading dangerously close to Wesleyan perfectionism, which I do not believe you wish to do.

    If I go by the word of the Baptist, which I do, then your point makes even less sense. Truth is, Walther tried to make too fine a point.

    But again, I am trying to understand what it is you are trying to say. The very first thesis of Luther’s 95 nailed to the Wittenberg Church door said in clear words:

    “When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said “Repent,” he intended that the entire life of believers should be repentance.”

    Or as a friend of mine – an exceptional theologian – put matters quite clearly –

    “The change of mind involved in repentance even extends into eternity, as the mind of all creatures made in His image will be expanded without end, changed by an ever-increasing and deepening experience and knowledge of God and His life.”

    Again – your point? Pax tecum . . .

  12. Et tecum, jb. Nevertheless, I have no clue what you are after. I have no problem with Article XII. My problem, and Walther’s, is that people talk about the Repentance, which precedes conversion, as if it were no different from the daily repentance of the converted. Walther knew, and I know, and you should know that the through our initial repentance, we become entirely new creatures. Ephesians 2:1, “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. 4But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9not by works, so that no one can boast. 10For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
    “Bearing fruits of repentance is NOT limited to merely the newly converted in their conversion.” Why do you insult me by mentioning an absurdity that I never even hinted at?
    “If I go by the word of the Baptist, which I do, then your point makes even less sense. Truth is, Walther tried to make too fine a point.” Do you understand that the Baptist is a prophet of the Old Covenant, and that his baptism has no relationship to the Baptism commanded by our Lord? If you do not understand this, then you should be careful about claiming to understand anything about the New Covenant. As for Walther, he understood the importance of the Gospel. I have contended for over 50 years that the vast majority of Lutheran pastors do not understand it, which is why they mix up Law and Gospel, Repentance and contrition. They do not understand what it means to be a member of the Kingdom of God.
    Luther’s First Thesis does not reflect the truth of the Gospel. Tell me one place in Scripture that even hints at the idea that “the entire life of believers should be repentance.” Don’t quote me verses that mention “repentance”, but those that say we should be repenting continually, or that repenting should take up the major part of our waking lives. Romans 8:15, “For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” 16The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, 17and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.” No, I am not against repentance even after conversion. However, if we are continually repenting and bewailing our sins, we loose sight of the fact that God in Christ has actually forgiven our sins, and “remembers them no more.”
    As to what your friend said, it is probably true, if I could understand what it means. Since he is speaking of a “change of mind”, he is speaking of the Repentance prior to conversion. The repentance afterwards is not a change of mind, but a reflection of the fact that as members of the Kingdom of God, we “have the mind of Christ.” 1 Corinthians 2:16. However, whatever positive change we experience after our conversion, because of sanctification, just like the “suffering of this world”, is not worthy to b e compared with the glory that is to come.
    Peace and Joy!
    George A. Marquart

  13. @George A. Marquart #12

    Based on your last post, your definition of repentance appears to differ from that of AC XII, the author of the post, and the commenters with whom you debate.

    For that reason the debate really can’t get anywhere.

  14. @T-rav #13

    Or perhaps I should say, you’re using the ‘narrow’ definition of repentance, whereas they’re using the ‘broad’ definition.

  15. @George A. Marquart #12

    “The repentance afterwards is not a change of mind, but a reflection of the fact that as members of the Kingdom of God, we “have the mind of Christ.””

    If this is so then why Romans 7? Why does Paul call us to “be transformed” (a continual process) “by the renewing” (a continual process) “of our mind”?

  16. Aside from the Transfiguration of our Lord, the Greek verb that is translated as “transformed” occurs in only one other place, 2 Corinthians 3:18, “And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit.”
    I suggest that those of us who claim to believe in monergism, should give some credit to God, rather than assuming that our little repentance is capable of working such great things.
    You made me search a little, and that is good. But it should have been Romans 12, not 7.
    Peace and Joy!
    George A. Marquart

  17. AC XII, the author, and the other commenters state that repentance is BOTH contrition AND faith, not just contrition. That was my point in my first two comments.

    Our “little repentance” is the work of God. 2 Tim. 2:25 for example.

    “I cannot by my own reason or strength believe…” Luther’s Small Catechism.

    I’m sorry I was confusing. I meant the transformed passage, but I also did intend Romans 7. That wasn’t a typo.

    There in Romans 7 Paul expresses both contrition and faith- or what AC XII defines as repentance.

  18. @T-rav #13

    T-rav, the “debate can’t get anywhere because George will nit-pick as long as anyone will answer him. [I don’t, any more.] 🙂

  19. @George A. Marquart #16

    Hi George,
    No true Lutheran would credit himself with repentance, ever. As pointed out by others, repentance is a gift, just like faith; it is granted by God – he grants us the ability to both see our sins (some of them, at least!) and to believe His promises of forgiveness; Walther has excellent essays (#22 and #35) which touch on this in Proper Distinction Between Law and Gospel. God’s forgiveness is granted prior to any repentance, which requires saving faith. We cannot repent in either the wide or narrow sense without faith.
    In essay #35, Walther also says conversion is easy, but remaining in a converted state is difficult.
    Perhaps this is the point of contention. Not that our daily “active” repentance (again, granted by God but experienced by us) gains us anything, but rather it serves to strengthen our faith by daily reminding us of our state as sinner and saint. Much like Luther’s explanation of the petitions of the Lord’s Prayer – not that God would not be Holy or His would not be done or we would not receive our daily bread from Him without our prayer, but that through the prayer we may realize the gifts given to us daily.
    That may help or may not…

  20. @jwskud #19
    @George A. Marquart #16
    “Perhaps this is the point of contention. Not that our daily “active” repentance (again, granted by God but experienced by us) gains us anything, but rather it serves to strengthen our faith by daily reminding us of our state as sinner and saint.”

    I was wondering if perhaps the point of contention is: Do we burden ourselves with continuous repentance for sins which have been long ago repented, or must we daily repent of that sin and those sins which still remains?

  21. @St Stephen #20

    @jwskud: I really do not see us disagreeing on anything specific. If we do disagree, it is on the role of repentance in the life of the child of God. My contention is that it is not true that “the entire life of the believers should be repentance.” If it were, there would be more Scripture to that effect.
    On the other hand, there is much to recommend joy as the central emotion of the Christian. John 16:22, “So you have pain now; but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.” This He said just before, Hebrews 12:2, “…for the joy that was set before Him (He) endured the cross, disregarding its shame.” Romans 14:17, “For the Kingdom of God is not food and drink, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” And countless others.
    As to the sins that burden us of which we have long ago repented, I know that continues to be a burden in my life, but I have to confess that this is a lack of trust in the promises of God. The overriding fact the Gospel teaches is that the sins of a child of God are forgiven as soon as he commits them. Once we can accept that, everything else falls into place.
    Peace and Joy!
    George A. Marquart

  22. @George A. Marquart #22

    Hi George,
    I agree wholeheartedly with your closing paragraph. The sins which continue to burden us through regret are discussed marvelously in What Luther Says, in the section on repentance, in entry 3871:

    “Regret, the little black dog of a belated repentance, does not stop barking and biting the conscience, even though you know that your sins are forgiven.” From Luther’s comments on Gen 37:18-20.

    This is where the rubber meets the road. Because our faith is so weak, we have trouble believing we are truly and fully forgiven! God help us. Our sinful natures attempt to constantly nullify the Gospel. We truly are hopeless. Thanks be to God that He never leaves nor forsakes us, and pursues us in our lifelong struggle. I believe; help my unbelief. Let us not forsake the promises of God, but cling to them always!

    Peace,
    Jason

  23. @St Stephen #20

    Hi Stephen,
    If we continue to seek God’s forgiveness for sins He has already forgiven, we are basically calling Him a liar – let it not be so! And yet, as I discuss in my response to George, that is exactly what we all do with our daily and lifelong regrets. Part of that is disbelieving the Gospel, and perhaps just as big a part of it is regretting how we’ve hurt a brother or sister in Christ. Whereas there is no vertical condemnation, there will always be horizontal repercussions for sin. God has erased the sin, but the harm it does others on earth may remain. Coming to terms with that is not easy…it may be impossible in some cases!

  24. The main issue here seems to be that George wants the central emotion in a Christian’s life to be joy and not contrition for sins already forgiven at conversion. There isn’t enough room in the day by his reckoning to accommodate both wallowing in remorse for sin and the exuberance of the joy of salvation. The former takes away from the latter. But, what greater joy can there be for a Christian than to hear the words, “Your sins are forgiven?” How shallow would be our life of faith if we stopped hearing those life-giving, cathartic words. From page 109 of the LSB we read, “We sincerely repent of the sins of this day and those in the past. Pardon our offenses, correct and reform what is lacking in us, and help us to grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.”

    True Christian joy comes from receiving absolution for confessed sins, known and unknown, trusting in the Absolver’s promise to save us from our sins. As soon as you say, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me!” your joy is made complete in a warm bath of Gospel forgiveness.

    To his believing brothers in Christ, St. John wrote:

    “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.” 1 John 1:8-10

    That doesn’t sound like a “one-and-done” at conversion to me.

  25. @Mark #25

    Well stated, Mark.

    I would recommend a resource to George here that I found helpful on this and other topics: Daniel M. Deutschlander’s “The Narrow Lutheran Middle.” He’s a WELS pastor, and his book breaks down fundamental Lutheran doctrines and also the errors on either side. In Chapter 2, Between carnal security and despair, he writes (paraprased):

    Let go of the imperfection and the sin of yesterday, remembering only that Christ has fully paid for it. And then press on, striving with might and main to be the redeemed child of God that you are. There is no license to sin. There is no cause for lazy security. There is no reason for despair…there is only Christ. And remember – we lose every battle to at least some extent due to the sin that stains us, but we win the war because of Christ.

    That sums it up nicely.

  26. @Mark #25

    Mark, you write, “True Christian joy comes from receiving absolution for confessed sins, known and unknown, trusting in the Absolver’s promise to save us from our sins.” Please provide the appropriate Scriptural support.
    Mark, it is not a matter of, “George wants …” To the best of my ability, everything I wrote has Scriptural support. I just went through every instance of the word “joy” in the New Testament. The only verse which connects joy and repentance is the one about there being much joy in heaven over every sinner who repents.
    I do not know why you mentioned a “one-and-done” conversion, in the sense that there is no need for repentance after conversion. You will not find any place where I wrote that. I just do not believe that based on the words of our Lord and the rest of Scripture, this repentance is the main, or even the most important activity of the Christian. Although I could quote several other places in Scripture, I once more quote St. Paul, Romans 14:17, “For the Kingdom of God is not food and drink, but righteousness, and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” St. Paul is saying that these are gifts we receive simply as members of the Kingdom of God. It may be that we receive some joy when we hear the absolution, but nowhere in Scripture does it say that this is the only, or even the greatest source of joy. Unless, of course, you can show otherwise.
    Peace and Joy!
    George A. Marquart

  27. @George A. Marquart #27

    In chapter 7 of his second letter to the church at Corinth, St. Paul begins by saying, “Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.” He goes on to say that he is overflowing with joy despite affliction at every turn. He continues in verse 9, “As it is, I rejoice, not because you (Corinthian Christians) were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us. For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.”

    St. Paul rejoices over the repentance of the Corinthian church whose members were “grieved into repenting” with a “godly grief that produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret.” Notice the connection between Paul’s rejoicing and the Corinthians repenting reminiscent of Luke 15:10? It seems clear from these passages that the repentance of the Corinthians is in the context of Paul’s overflowing joy and that this repentance is a supernatural response given to the Church to deal with “godly grief” i.e. faith and contrition. Paul rejoices with the penitent Corinthians who have been born again in Baptism but continue to sin after conversion. It also seems rather implicit that the Corinthian Christians would likewise experience joy with St. Paul at their own repentance that leads to salvation without regret, trusting the Absolver’s promise to save us from our sins – truly something to be joyful about.

    When John the Baptizer proclaimed, “Bear fruits in keeping with repentance” (Luke 3:8), he echoed the teaching in Galatians 5:22-23. “For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, for each tree is known by its own fruit.” Luke 6:43-44

    Therefore, Christian repentance results in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. You cannot draw any other conclusion from Scripture.

  28. Do you want to know about true joy? Follow the link to Pastor Weedon’s post on his blog. The word “joy” is actually mentioned only once. “Repentance” is also mentioned once. But true joy permeates throughout.
    https://weedon.blogspot.com/
    Peace and Joy!
    George A. Marquart

  29. From Dr. A.L. Barry’s pamphlet entitled, “What is…The Gospel?”

    WHAT IS THE GOSPEL?
    taken from Dr. A.L. Barry’s LCMS pamphlet
    entitled “What is…The Gospel?”

    “WHY DO WE NEED THE GOSPEL?
    We cannot really understand how good the message of the Gospel is until we understand how bad our situation is without it. We are poor miserable sinners. We sin daily [by breaking God’s Law in thought, word, and deed; by what we have done and by what we have left undone] and deserve nothing but God’s wrath and punishment.

    Without Jesus Christ, our situation would be totally hopeless. The Scriptures describe human beings as dead in trespasses and sin. Without the mercy and cleansing of God through the blood of Jesus Christ, there awaits for us only everlasting punishment in hell. Thus, we need the Gospel–desperately!”

    The point he’s getting at is that no one can experience true joy and righteousness before a Holy God unless he knows where he stands without Christ. Thus, the Gospel is most appreciated when we understand why we need it. Again, I think this is what Luther was getting at in the 95 Theses and Smalcald.

    Good luck to you as you continue to search for answers, George. I’ve done what little I can do, and recommend “The Narrow Lutheran Middle” (Chapter 2 especially) for more scripture-based insight.

  30. @jwskud #32

    Dear jwskud: I am genuinely touched by your concern for me. But really, do you think I do not appreciate how bad my situation would be without the Gospel?
    I have understood the Gospel from my youth, and rejoiced in it, precisely because I understood that through it, God did for me and for all believers what none of us could do for ourselves. Hebrews 6:1 “Therefore let us move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instruction about cleansing rites, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.”
    Now, when I am over eighty years old, knowing that I may cross the Jordan into the Promised Land at any moment, I will not renounce that joy. God bestows everything on His people through the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ including the joy He promised us on the night He was betrayed. To renounce that joy would be to renounce the Gospel. No amount of repentance will make me any more deserving of salvation, than the undeserved gift with which God gives us all things. There is simply no Scripture to support the unholy demand for our whole lives to be ones of repentance.
    The late Rev. Alexander Schmemann, has the following entry in his diary:
    25 September 1980
    H.L.Mencken: definition of Puritanism: “a haunting fear that someone somewhere may be happy…”
    A British pastor and theologian wrote about other reasons for joy: “Certainly we must never conceive ‘salvation’ in purely negative terms, as if it consisted only of our rescue from sin, guilt, wrath and death. We thank God that it is all these things. But it also includes the positive blessing of the Holy Spirit to regenerate, indwell, liberate and transform us.” (John R. W. Stott, Baptism and Fullness. The Work of the Holy Spirit today. Inter Varsity Press, P. 25, 26.)
    Peace and Joy!
    George A. Marquart

  31. @George A. Marquart #33

    George,

    Could you please define repentance?

    You are so very clearly using a different definition of repentance. You then are attributing this definition (whatever it may be) to AC XII, the author of this post, and several of the commenters here and then you’re beating up this straw man definition.

    If you were using the same definition of repentance (contrition AND faith) you would have never said this:

    “There is simply no Scripture to support the unholy demand for our whole lives to be ones of repentance.”

    I hear that as:

    There is simply no Scripture to support the unholy demand for our whole lives to be ones of contrition and faith.

  32. @George A. Marquart #33

    @T-rav #34

    The miscommunication here seems to be over “our whole lives”, not over the definition of repentance.

    Of course we are to repent daily for that days sins, known and unknown, but we also must pray for the reception and acceptance of grace.

    Here is the paradox. If it is seen as a demand, i.e., “Thou shalt accept, thou shalt receive, thou shalt believe, thou shalt be happy, etc., well, this is impossible, and the harder one tries, the more impossible it becomes. While at the same time, Christians are not Puritans, (or teetotalers, or Pietists). It is the devil himself who reminds us of the sins of our youth, and his minions, human and spiritual, dressed as angels of light, who continually hold them against us, in an attempt to justify themselves by comparison, or simply out of envy.

    Those taking the pro-repentance stance in this discussion are not agents of Satan, and those taking the pro-joy stance here are not Antinomian.

  33. @T-rav #34

    T-rav: Scripture, and the Lutheran Confessions teach that there are two kinds of Repentance: one, before one enters the Kingdom of God, and one after. The first is a true turning from our former selves as enemies of God, to being children of God. This repentance simply cannot be repeated, because we would have to become enemies of God again, and from this we are saved by the grace of God.
    The second repentance is that which we do as members of God’s Kingdom. Nothing we do in that Kingdom is done without faith; because it is the gift of faith, given with the Sacrament of Baptism, that defines us as members of God’s Kingdom. In this connection, I am somewhat reluctant to believe those who would define precisely how faith and contrition interact. Faith interacts with everything in the life of the Christian. To say that “there is nothing good in us” even as members of God’s Kingdom is not true, inasmuch as the Holy Spirit dwells in us after Baptism, and gives us a new nature, as our Lord explained to Nicodemus. We all agree that this new nature is not perfect, but it is clearly, and scripturally, better than that of the unbeliever. After all, it is a gift of God.
    I heartily recommend Walther’s Thesis XII for an explanation of both kinds of repentance.
    I cannot be responsible for what you hear, that is different from what I write. Nevertheless, I still see no Scripture that our entire lives should consist of repentance.
    Luther’s meaning in the 95 Theses is clear:
    1. “daß das ganze Leben der Gläubigen Buße sein soll.“ „That the entire life of believers should be repentance.”
    2. Going on to Thesis 4, we read, “Daher bleibt die Strafe, solange der Haß gegen sich selbst – das ist die wahre Herzensbuße – bestehen bleibt, also bis zum Eingang ins Himmelreich.“ „Therefore the punishment remains as long as hatred of oneself – that is true repentance from the heart – continues to exist; that is until one enters the Heavenly Kindgom.
    3. And going on to Thesis 7, “Gott erläßt überhaupt keinem die Schuld, ohne ihn zugleich demütig in allem dem Priester, seinem Stellvertreter, zu unterwerfen.“ „God remits absolutely no one his guilt, without, at the same time, subjecting him in humility to the priest, His deputy.”
    The definition of forgiveness that can be deduced from these statements is clearly not one taught by our Lord or the Scriptures.
    Peace and Joy!
    George A. Marquart

  34. @St Stephen #35

    Thank you, St. Stephen. I think that Luther’s expression, “daß das ganze Leben der Gläubigen Buße sein soll.“ „That the entire life of believers should be repentance,” refers to more than simply daily repentance. It is what he did while he was a monk, and from which he was not yet rid when he wrote the 95 Theses.
    My problem has not been with pro-repentance, but that the entire life should be devoted to it. I quote once more from the diary of Fr. Alexander Schmemann, “the diary of Fr. Alexander Schmemann, 12 October 1976,
    “The origin of “false religion” is the inability to be joyful, or rather – the rejection of joy. Meanwhile joy is so absolutely important, because it is without doubt the fruit of knowing the presence of God. It is impossible to know that God is, and not to have joy. And it is only in connection with this joy that awe of God, contrition and humility are proper and genuine and bear fruit. Apart from this joy these can easily become “demonic”, a perversion at the base of the most religious experience itself. The religion of fear. The religion of false humility. The religion of guilt, which says, “This is all temptation, it is all spiritual “rapture.” But how strong is this religion, not only in the world but within the Church! And for some reason, “religious” people are always suspicious of joy. The first, the most important, the source of everything is, “Let my soul rejoice in the Lord …” The fear of sin does not prevent one from sinning. Joy in the Lord does.”
    Peace and Joy!
    George A. Marquart

  35. I am by nature sinful and unclean. I sin because I am a sinner through and through. Sin isn’t something that happens to me once in a while, it permeates my being and flares out in ways I hate. Meanwhile the good I want, I don’t do.

    Contrition and faith will occur through my whole life as Paul confesses in Romans 7.

    The joy comes somewhere around verse 25? “Thanks be to God through our Lord Jesus Christ!”

    I can’t figure out how repentance is an opposite of joy. More like joy flows from it.

    A blessed Holy Week and Easter to you all!

  36. @T-rav #38
    T-rav: Yes, joy comes somewhere around verse 25. Yet it is the conclusion of the argument that comes before. Therefore, you should not dismiss it as irrelevant, but consider it the point of what St. Paul wants to say all along. It is the solution to the problem.
    Repentance is not the opposite of joy. My sole point is that the entire life of the Christian should not be repentance, as Luther wrongfully expressed it in the first of the 95. “Entire” means all of it.
    Yes, joy does come from repentance, but it is not the only source of it, as St. Paul mentions below.
    On the other hand, St. Paul, hardly ever mentions repentance, but when he does, it is almost without exception the one time Repentance that precedes conversion. Interestingly enough, he speaks of our righteousness without mentioning repentance, only faith: Romans 4:5, “However, to the one who does not work but trusts God who justifies the ungodly, their faith is credited as righteousness.”
    He mentions joy many times. Among the most notable are:
    Rom.15: 13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
    Gal. 5:22 By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things.
    Peace and Joy!
    George A. Marquart

  37. @George A. Marquart #29

    George, you asked me to “provide the appropriate Scriptural support” for my assertion that repentance and joy are bound together; that, indeed it can be argued, Christian joy naturally emanates from repentance which makes Christian joy even possible. I wrote, “True Christian joy comes from receiving absolution for confessed sins, known and unknown, trusting in the Absolver’s promise to save us from our sins.” Let me have another go at it. 1 John 1 is a concise chapter that correlates, yea binds, Christian fellowship and joy with confession of sins. I think it’s important to answer two questions about these 10 verses:

    Is 1 John 1 evangelism directed to pre-conversion unbelievers? Or did the Apostle write it to edify, admonish, and exhort the nascent Church? He uses the personal pronouns “we” twenty-one times, “our” or “ourselves” seven times, and “us” seven times so it seems clear that, in these first 10 verses of his letter, he is writing to believers post-conversion.

    Next, what is the point of these first 10 verses written to the Church which are not disjointed? His point is found where he reiterates, “so that” … “[S]o that you too may have fellowship with us” and “so that our (some manuscripts “your”) joy may be complete.” No sooner does John express his desire for inclusivity in the body of Christ and to complete our joy in that body than he then launches into the solution to overcome the obstacles in the way of making it happen. The answer is to walk in the light as He is in the light. How do we do that? How is our joy made complete? John tells us how to avoid walking in the darkness by not deluding ourselves into thinking that we have no ongoing issues with sin and therefore no need to confess our sins. How often are we to confess our sins? He doesn’t say, just as Jesus doesn’t tell us specifically how often we should partake of His supper. John’s message is an “if-then” proposition. If we walk in the light (cf. Ephesians 2:10) we can expect our joy to be complete in the fellowship of Christ and His church (cf. Philippians 1:6).

    Your concern seems to be that Christians should not be wasting all their time living in melancholic contrition just because of Luther’s Romish rubric to live a life of repentance when you stated, “My sole point is that the entire life of the Christian should not be repentance, as Luther wrongfully expressed it in the first of the 95. ‘Entire’ means all of it.” Are you saying that the Christian life should rather be in a constant state of unbridled joy trusting the promise that our sins have been forgiven once for all by the Savior? I wouldn’t argue with that. However, you seem unable or unwilling to reconcile daily repentance with a joyful spirit and further you seem to suggest the two are mutually exclusive. Maybe it is the regularity with which you disagree and think that confession and absolution each Sunday is frequent enough. I can see how even this practice is consistent with Luther’s exhortation, “When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, “Repent” (Mt 4:17), he willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.” Living an entire life of repentance is similar to the imagery of St. Paul’s urging in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 to “pray without ceasing” where he is more practicably implying that we should not stop the habit of praying until the end of one’s pilgrimage here on earth (with time set aside for eating, sleeping, and bathroom breaks).

    But more to your point, while I agree that you don’t find word combinations in the New Testament that will satisfy you, where the act of repentance and joy are in the same sentence, anyone can connect the dots to realize that persistent confession of one’s persistent sins in repentant faith results in ineffable joy in the life of the Christian. John is saying as much when he intimates that the one; i.e. confessing our sins in repentant faith, is necessary to achieve the other; i.e. complete joy. From the Old Testament, probably more than any other verses in the Bible, Psalm 32 expresses the relief of a troubled conscience that comes from confessing one’s sins to God and receiving His absolution. That relief can easily be expressed as joy. It is the same sense of joy and well-being when a medical test returns a negative result. I cannot understand Scripture any other way.

    Psalm 32:1-5
    1 Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven,
    whose sin is covered. (you would not even be aware if pre-conversion.)
    2 Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity,
    and in whose spirit there is no deceit. (cf. John 1:47)
    3 For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away
    through my groaning all day long. (to go against conscience is neither right nor safe.)
    4 For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; (Psalm 139:7)
    my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Selah
    5 I acknowledged my sin to you,
    and I did not cover my iniquity; (Confession)
    I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,”
    and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah (Absolution)

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