By Itself, an Oral Confession That We Are Sinners Is Not Repentnce (Continued)

A similarly hypocritical form of worship is found among those who have convinced themselves of the modern-day belief that through his suffering on the cross, the Lord took away all the sins of the world, which they take to mean the sins of anyone who utters formulaic prayers about appeasement and mediation. Some such people are indeed capable of standing in the pulpit and, with a loud voice as if they were ablaze with passion, pouring forth one holy thought after another about repentance and goodwill, even though they themselves view repentance and goodwill as having no value for our salvation. They take “repentance” to mean nothing more than oral confession, and “goodwill” to mean nothing more than acts of public charity. But they preach this way merely to win the favor of the crowd. These are the type to which the following words of the Lord refer:

Many will say to me in that day, “Lord, Lord! Haven’t we prophesied in your name, and haven’t we done a number of miracles in your name?” But then I will declare to them, “I don’t know you. Go away from me, you who practice wickedness.” (Matthew 7:22-23)

On one occasion I heard someone in the spiritual world praying like this: “I am covered with skin disease. I am a leper. I have been disgusting from my mother’s womb. There is nothing in me that is whole from my head to the sole of my foot. I am unworthy to lift my eyes toward God. I deserve death and eternal damnation. Have mercy on me for the sake of your Son. Purify me in his blood. The salvation of all is up to you. I beg for your mercy.”

People standing nearby who had heard this asked him, “How do you know this is what you are like?”

“I know this,” he replied, “because that is what I have been told.” Then he was sent to exploratory angels. In their presence he said similar things.

After conducting their investigation they gave their report: “Everything he said about himself is true. Nevertheless, he does not recognize a single evil in himself, because he has never examined himself. He had the belief that after making an oral confession, any evil he had done would no longer be evil in the sight of God, for two reasons: God would turn his eyes away from it, and he would be appeased. Therefore even though this person was a deliberate adulterer and robber, a lying slanderer, and an ardently vengeful person, he did not recover from any of his evils. This is what he was like in his will and his heart, and this is what he would have been like in word and deed if fear of the law and of losing his reputation had not held him back.”

After the discovery that this was what he was like, he was judged and sent off to join other hypocrites in hell.

from True Christianity, Section 518

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