The Value Of Confession

Reprinted from The Shepherd’s Anthology on the Doxology website.  All Christians should consider the value of Individual (Private) Confession.

Luther on Confession

There is also another kind of confession I which one takes another person aside and tells him what bothers one, so that a person may hear a word of consolation from him…

I will allow no person to take private confession away from me, and I would not give it up for all the treasures in the world, since I know what consolation and strength it has given men.  No one knows what it can do for him except the person who has struggled long and hard with the Devil.  The Devil would have killed me long ago, if the confession had not supported me.   There are many confusing matters which a person cannot resolve or find the answer to by himself, and so he take his brother aside and tells him his trouble.  What harm is there if he humbles himself a little before his neighbor, embarrasses himself, looks for a word of consolation from him, accepts it, and believes it, as if he were hearing it from God himself, as we read, “if two of you agree about anything the ask, it will be done for them.”…

If any person is wrestling with his sins and wants to get rid of them and desires a secure piece of advice on the subject let him go and confess to another in secret, and accept what he says to him as if God himself had communicated it through the mouth of this person.  However, one who has a strong, secure faith that his sins are forgiven may omit this confession and confess to God alone.  But how many have such a secure faith?  Therefore, as I have said, I will not let this private confession be stolen from me.  I will also not have anybody forced to it, but left to each one’s free will.   Sermon 8 at Wittenberg (Martin Luther)

Ed. Jerome Neufelder & Mary Coelho, Writings on Spiritual Direction by Great Christian Masters, Minneapolis: The Seabury Press, 1982, p. 80.

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