Tuesday, November 27, 2007

How to be sure that you're really sorry for your sins: theses 29 and 30

29. Who knows whether all the souls in purgatory wish to be bought out of it, as in the legend of Sts. Severinus and Paschal.

30. No one is sure that his own contrition is sincere; much less that he has attained full remission.

If you've heard this, raise your hand. : )

"If you are really sorry for your sins, God will forgive you."

This is an error that gets thrown out far more than we'd wish, that if we are only really, really, really sorry, God will forgive our sins.

The problem -- as Luther points out -- is that no one is sure his own contrition (or sorrow for sins) is sincere. Much less someone else's.

And so you have people going around and around and around, wondering if they were really sorry, or judging someone else, guessing that from their facial expressions or whatever that "they weren't really sincere."

This is especially true when the sin is deemed worse than others. Or when the person keeps repeating the sin.

But we don't know when we are sincere. And we know that even our sorrow for our sins can be clouded by the very sin we're sorry for.

What we remember (2 Timothy 2.13) is that even when we are unfaithful, God is faithful. Our sorrow for our sins isn't what merits forgiveness. Instead, it is the merits of Christ, who died and rose again for our sins. For those that make us sorry, and even those that don't.

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