The adversaries say that satisfactions benefit by the outward work in such a way that, even though they are done in mortal sin, they still deliver from the punishments. When the passage of Paul is cited against us, "But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged [by the Lord]" (1 Corinthians 11:31), "to judge" should be understood to include all of repentance and required fruit, not works that are not required. Our adversaries pay the penalty for hating grammar. They understand "to judge" to equal making a pilgrimage dressed in armor, or similar works. "To judge" means all of repentance; it means to condemn sins. This condemnation truly happens in contrition and the change of life. Isaiah 1:16-19 teaches, "Cease to do evil, learn to do good.… Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow.… If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land." Neither should a most important meaning be transferred from all of repentance, and from works required or commanded by God, to the works of human traditions. Common evils are reduced by our repentance and by the true fruit of repentance, by good works completed from faith. Here belongs the example of the Ninevites (Jonah 3:10), who by their repentance (all of repentance) were reconciled to God and received the favor that their city was not destroyed. (paragraphs 65-69)
Condensed from CONCORDIA: THE LUTHERAN CONFESSIONS, copyright 2005,2006 by Concordia Publishing House. Used by permission. All rights reserved. To purchase a copy of CONCORDIA, call 800-325-3040.