Home > Lent > Familiar Chains. Wednesday after Oculi, 2014.

Familiar Chains. Wednesday after Oculi, 2014.


False Witnesses Before CaiaphasWednesday after Oculi + St. Peter Lutheran Church + What sins should we confess? [Small Catechism] (Passion History Part III) + March 26, 2014 +  Familiar Chains

 

Iesu iuva!

What sins should we confess?  Before God we should plead guilty of all sins, even those we are not aware of, as we do in the Lord’s Prayer.  But before the pastor we should confess only those sins that we know and feel in our hearts.

 

…..

If you get away from God, you’ll have freedom. Absolute freedom. You won’t have to worry about doing what He says and you won’t have to worry about dying.

 

Get away from God or get rid of Him; then you’ll be free. Unlimited freedom.

 

 

But really, chains.

Adam hides. That’s his freedom.

 

Peter hides and he won’t come back because he’s trying to escape chains and death. But he gets a different kind of chain. He has to keep lying and stay away from God in order to maintain his freedom.

 

Jesus doesn’t look like He’s free to us, but He is.

He confesses the true God. He confesses Himself.

He knows full well what this means; the people will want to kill Him.

He also knows that it is the Father’s will.

It seems to us that denying His Father (and Himself) would make Him free and that doing the Father’s will has made Him a slave.

 

Sin is a chain.

It gets you away from God. It cuts you off.

But to turn back to God is to turn back to punishment; the wages of sin is death.

To confess your sins to God is not like a get out of jail free card. Confessing your sins does not earn you freedom. Confessing your sins is like turning yourself in to the police.

 

It is to agree with God’s law that you deserve death.

 

It doesn’t make you not a sinner anymore. It’s like if Jeffrey Dahmer turns himself in to the police or pleads guilty. He isn’t now good and fit for life in normal society. He’s still worthy of punishment. He still would do unspeakable things if you let him out on the street again.

 

It’s not confessing that makes us free from the chains of sin.

It’s Jesus receiving our penalty of death and hell for us.

Then rising from the dead with our new life.

 

 

So when we confess our sins we are turning ourselves in, saying, “I surrender. I’m guilty of death and hell.”

That’s why when we confess to God, we don’t confess just specific sins. We are agreeing with Him that we are slaves of sin. There’s no fixing it, nor do we know all our sins. We just say, there is no good in me.

 

But what makes us free is the Gospel of Christ’s death and resurrection. God says, “Your death is now swallowed up in life. Your death is my Son’s death; His resurrection is your resurrection.”

 

Your sins died with Christ and are not counted to you.

 

Your old man is perishing, so that the new you, Christ risen, may rise forever. You are dying, but not to die forever. You are dying in order to rise again.

 

But if this is what God says, why does the catechism say “before the Pastor we should confess those sins which we know and feel in our hearts”?

 

Because sin that we know and feel in our hearts acts like a chain.

 

Confessing doesn’t break the chain, whether in private, before God, or in private, before the pastor.

 

Forgiveness breaks the chain.

 

The chains of our sins were broken by Jesus when He suffered and died and rose again.

 

He confessed God, knowing it meant death for Him. He was taking on the chains of our sins. He shattered them in dying for them and rising again. When He rose again the chains were gone. And in His resurrection He has freed us all from the chains of our sins.

 

But we still feel chained. Indeed our flesh is still captive to sin.

 

In the Gospel Jesus distributes the forgiveness won and breaks the chains.

 

And when you confess the sins you know and feel before the pastor and receive absolution, Jesus declares you released from your sins. It’s not you pronouncing it on yourself but the called servant of Christ pronouncing it.

 

This heals you. (Confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed.) Sin chains us. We don’t want to come to God. We become afraid to come to God. WE don’t want to do His will

Then we have to sin more so we can stay away from God and the punishment we dread.

 

When we examine ourselves and confess those sins that we know and feel, and Jesus looses them through the public servant of the word, we are given freedom, real freedom, in our consciences.

 

Not freedom to get away from God, which is not really freedom, but freedom to come near Him.

 

Ask Peter how badly he needed to hear from Jesus’ own lips that he was loosed and forgiven of his sins. Can you imagine Peter trying to go preach the Word to other people after denying Jesus? Unless Jesus Himself forgave Him?

 

That is the benefit of private absolution. In private absolution you receive assurance that your sins are really remitted and your chains are broken and you are not what you see yourself to be in the flesh or what other people see you to be in the flesh.

 

You are one that Christ has made new and clean and free. Just like a newborn baby fresh from the baptismal waters.

 

Or like someone who has just received Christ’s body and blood. People tell me they “feel better” after communion. Yes, God has given you a priceless gift; His Son’s suffering to atone for your sins. You go away from communion set free, dead to sin and alive to God.

 

So you are free when you are absolved in private, just like one day, when we arise from our graves, we will be totally new and totally free. Then the old sinful nature will be gone.

 

Now it is with us, but in the Gospel and Sacraments God says it is not counted to us. And in private confession, when we bring to Jesus (not the pastor, who is just the mouth) the works of the flesh that we know and feel, Jesus says, “I forgive you that and all your sins.” Which means—that and all your old self has died.

 

Boy did Peter need that after he ran away from Jesus, as though life and freedom would be found by getting away from Jesus. How could Peter trust himself? How could he be pardoned for renouncing God right as God was being accused and put to shame for him?

 

That is what we have in us—the old Adam who tries to get away from God, or do away with God, and thinks “If God just weren’t around, I could do what I want and not be afraid.” That’s what we have in us, and in a moment, just like Peter, we are doing it again—denying our Lord. Treating Him like an executioner or a leper instead of our Savior. Thinking, “If only God didn’t exist and make His rules. If only I didn’t have to worry about His law and my sins. If only God would die.”

 

When we confess our sins, we say, “No, it’s me who needs to die.”

 

And in the absolution, in public during the general confession and also in private to the sins we know and feel, Jesus says, “I forgive you all your sins. I am well-pleased with you and will be with you forever. I have died for your sins, and I have been raised from the dead to give forgiveness to you and everyone on earth who desires it.

 

And I not only forgive you, but I am making you new so that you will be free from sin and will no longer do it or be tempted by it.

 

So I am putting your old self to death every day, leading you in the way of my cross. But when you are suffering or dying, it isn’t to die forever. It is so you can rise again to live forever, to be truly free.

 

When in weakness you run away from Jesus and His cross, come back and confess your sins and be forgiven like Peter. Confess your sins in private to Him and He promises to forgive you.

 

Confess your sins in public in church, and He speaks His forgiveness to you along with the whole congregation.

 

Confess your sins to Him privately in private confession, and He, Jesus, speaks so you can hear Him and says to you personally—I forgive you that sin and that sin and all your sins.

 

Even the ones you have committed many times before—I forgive you. The familiar chains are loosed. They are not really your chains anymore.

 

 

Soli Deo Gloria

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