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Trust in God's Mercy

Filed Under: Luther's Devotions

I acknowledge my transgressions : and my sin is ever before
me.

Psalm 51:3.

Every Christian who wishes to make confession of his sins
should place his confidence without reserve in the merciful
promises and invitations of God, firmly believing that Almighty
God will graciously forgive him his sins. Before he confesses
his sins to a confessor, let him with due diligence make confession
to the Lord God himself. Let him enumerate to the divine
Majesty all his sins and infirmities, his conversation, deeds and
manner of life without extenuating or concealing anything, just
as if he dealt with a very familiar friend. His sinful and wicked
thoughts also, so far as can be recalled, should be confessed.
Every Christian who would confess his sins should possess
the honest intention and determination to amend his life and to
forsake every manner of open, mortal sin. A confession without
this purpose would be a dangerous and unpromising undertaking.
When one discovers that he lacks the steady purpose to
amend his life, he should fall upon his knees and pray to God
for it. One must consider that it is impossible to call to mind
and confess all his mortal sins; he should remember that after
applying all diligence he confesses only the smallest part of his
sins. The sins to be confessed, therefore, are the manifestly
mortal sins and such as press upon a man's conscience at the
time of confession. It is quite impossible to confess all mortal
sins in view of the fact that when God sits in judgment and
passes sentence upon them, not according to his gracious mercy,
but his stern justice, even our good works render us guilty of
death and condemnation.

The sum of the matter is this, that those persons are saved
who place their trust solely in God, not in their works, nor in
any creature. Consequently man should learn to have greater
confidence in God's mercy than in the zeal with which he makes
confession. One cannot be too active, determined and guarded
against the accursed evil of confiding in one's own works. Therefore
we should accustom our consciences to trust in God, and
let it be done with the understanding that to believe and trust
in God is pleasing to him, and that unreserved trust in God is
his highest glory.

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