Repentance

What happens when a Christian, who has been converted by the Holy Spirit through Baptism and the Word of God, falls into sin once again? Our Lutheran Churches teach that there is forgiveness for those who have fallen after Baptism and conversion for those who return in repentance.

What do we mean by repentance? We consider repentance in two parts. First is contrition, or the sorrows of the conscience because of the knowledge of sin. The second part is faith, which is born of the Gospel—or the Absolution—and believes that for Christ’s sake, sins are forgiven. The Gospel gives comfort to a terrified conscience and produces the fruits of repentance, that is, good works. However, the forgiveness of God is always a free gift, and never depends on these works as if they make satisfaction for our sins.

Some Christians believe that since they have been converted they no longer sin, or at least do not commit grave sins. But neither Scripture nor common experience can support this belief. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us (1 John 1:8-10). And even King David lost the Holy Spirit when he committed the grave sins of adultery and murder. Yet he returned to the Lord in repentance, and so received the forgiveness of sins (2 Samuel 12:13; Psalm 51).