Scripture Text: Matthew 18:23-35
From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession
Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law
This is how we must understand all similar passages. Christ preaches repentance when he says, “Forgive,” and then adds the promise, “And you will be forgiven” (Luke 6:37). He does not say that by our forgiving we earn the forgiveness of sins by the work worked, or as they call it, ex opere operato. He expects a new life, which certainly is necessary. Yet, at the same time, he teaches that forgiveness of sins is received by faith. So, when Isaiah says, “Share your bread with the hungry” (Isa 58:7), he is requiring a new life. The prophet does not speak of this work alone, but as the text indicates, of total repentance. Yet, he concurrently means that forgiveness of sins is received by faith.
Pulling It Together: As the parable indicates, we are indebted to the King. Our sin-debt should cost us our lives (Rom 6:23) but God is merciful, forgiving us and making us into new persons. He now expects his new people to live like citizens of his kingdom. We are to forgive as we have been forgiven, and to do other good works. Having been shown mercy, we are now to live like the King’s people. However, take note that living like a good citizen of the kingdom is not what saved the servant in the parable. He was condemned but then forgiven while he was indebted to his king. We too, were shown mercy while we were still sinners (Rom 5:8). We did not do one thing that could earn God’s forgiveness. He freely forgave us because of his great mercy for Christ’s sake. Now he expects us to live like new people, still depending with faith upon his mercy, while doing what is merely expected of godly people.
Prayer: Lord, help me to forgive from the depths of my heart, just as you have forgiven me. Amen.
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