“Why We Believe God Doesn’t Forgive through Penance” (1 John 1:6-9


I. Introduction. A. Orientation. We’ve seen so far That you don’t need indulgences And you don’t have to go to Purgatory To satisfy for the punishment due to your sins That you failed to satisfy in life.

The Bible says nothing about indulgences or Purgatory, But rather that if you trust Jesus You will go directly to heaven when you die. Christ made a full satisfaction for you in His sufferings.

You also don’t need to be baptized to receive forgiveness.

Rome believes That the sin you inherited from Adam – original sin – As well as your own sins – actually sin – Is forgiven in baptism.

Lutherans believe essentially the same – That God uses baptism – Which for them is water

2 With God’s promise added – To wash away your sins.

But you don’t need baptism. God doesn’t work through baptism To forgive sins. Baptism is a symbol of that forgiveness, Of that spiritual cleansing that comes from Jesus When the Spirit baptizes you into Christ.

Satisfaction and forgiveness Isn’t tied to a church. You don’t need an earthly priest To minister indulgences Or to baptize you. The church is here Merely to point the way to Christ, As Bunyan pictured this in Pilgrim’s Progress In the portrait of a Gospel minister: “Now Interpreter led the pilgrim into a private room, and there he ordered his man to open a door. Then did Christian see the picture of a very grave person hanging against the wall, and its features were as follows. This man had his eyes directed up toward Heaven, the best of books in his hand, the law of truth was written upon his lips, the world was behind his back; he stood as if he pleaded with men, and a crown of gold hung over his head” (36). He wasn’t facing purgatory With indulgences in one hand,


Water for baptism in the other, Standing as if waiting to hear a sinner’s confession.

Facing heaven, with the Bible as His guide, He pled with men To forsake the world And to seek heaven through Jesus Christ. This is the work the Lord has given to us In His Great Commission, Because He alone can save.

B. Preview. Baptism, for Rome, Was the first part Of the exercise of the keys of the kingdom of God – Or the first plank of justification: How the doors of heaven are opened For your salvation, How the guilt of your sins is forgiven.

The second part or plank is penance: You don’t stop sinning after you’re baptized, So the Lord must have a way of dealing With those sins as well through the church.

4 For Rome, that way is penance. We read in the Catholic Catechism: “If the Church has the power to forgive sins, then Baptism cannot be her only means of using the keys of the Kingdom of heaven received from Jesus Christ. The Church must be able to forgive all penitents their offenses, even if they should sin until the last moment of their lives” (979). “It is through the sacrament of Penance that the baptized can be reconciled with God and with the Church . . . This sacrament of Penance is necessary for salvation for those who have fallen after Baptism, just as Baptism is necessary for salvation for those who have not yet been reborn” (980).

With this in view, let’s consider two things this evening: 1. First, what penance is and why Rome believes we need it. 2. And what the Bible says about forgiveness. II. Sermon. A. What, first of all, is penance? Let’s again hear from their own publication: This, by the way, is the brief summary They include at the end of the section Dealing with penance.

What is penance? Penance is the sacrament of forgiveness. “The forgiveness of sins committed after Baptism is conferred by a particular sacrament called the sacrament of conversion, confession, penance, or reconciliation” (1486).

What happens when you sin?

5 “The sinner wounds God’s honor and love, his own human dignity as a man called to be a son of God, and the spiritual well-being of the Church, of which each Christian ought to be a living stone” (1487).

What are the consequences of sin? If the sin is serious enough (mortal), You lose your salvation And are in danger of damnation. “To the eyes of faith no evil is graver than sin and nothing has worse consequences for sinners themselves, for the Church, and for the whole world” (1488).

How can you regain your salvation/communion with God? “To return to communion with God after having lost it through sin is a process born of the grace of God who is rich in mercy and solicitous for the salvation of men. One must ask for this precious gift for oneself and for others” (1489).

What is the first step of this process? “The movement of return to God, called conversion and repentance, entails sorrow for and abhorrence of sins committed, and the firm purpose of sinning no more in the future. Conversion touches the past and the future and is nourished by hope in God’s mercy” (1490).

What else is involved? “The sacrament of Penance is a whole consisting in three actions of the penitent and the priest’s absolution. The penitent’s acts are repentance, confession or disclosure of sins to the priest, and the intention to make reparation and do works of reparation” (1491).

What should be the motive behind your repentance? “Repentance (also called contrition) must be inspired by motives that arise from faith. If repentance arises from love of charity for God, it is called ‘perfect’ contrition; if it is founded on other motives, it is called ‘imperfect’” (1492).


What does confession involve? “One who desires to obtain reconciliation with God and with the Church, must confess to a priest all the unconfessed grave sins he remembers after having carefully examined his conscience. The confession of venial faults, without being necessary in itself, is nevertheless strongly recommended by the Church” (1493).

What is involved in reparation? “The confessor proposes the performance of certain acts of ‘satisfaction’ or ‘penance’ to be performed by the penitent in order to repair the harm caused by sin and to reestablish habits befitting a disciple of Christ” (1494).

Who can forgive the penitent on the basis of these three things? “Only priests who have received the faculty of absolving from the authority of the Church can forgive sins in the name of Christ” (1495).

What are the results you can expect from penance? “The spiritual effects of the sacrament of Penance are: a. Reconciliation with God by which the penitent recovers grace; b. Reconciliation with the Church; c. Remission of the eternal punishment incurred by mortal sins; d. Remission, at least in part, of temporal punishments resulting from sin; e. Peace and serenity of conscience, and spiritual consolation; f. An increase of spiritual strength for the Christian battle” (1496).

In conclusion: “Individual and integral confession of grave sins followed by absolution remains the only ordinary means of reconciliation with God and with the Church” (1497).

Since temporal punishment isn’t fully remitted,


What can you do to deal with it? “Through indulgences the faithful can obtain the remission of temporal punishment resulting from sin for themselves and also for the souls in Purgatory” (1498).

To summarize: Jesus gave His apostles the keys of the kingdom of heaven – The power to forgive sins. Sins are forgiven through baptism.

But since baptism can be performed only once There must be another sacrament To deal with sins committed after baptism. That sacrament is penance.

When you commit a serious sin after baptism You destroy the grace of God in you And so are alienated from Him.

To return to God, You must first be sorry for and hate your sin, Turn from it purposing to sin no more, And confess your sins to a priest Especially the more serious sins.

The priest will then give you works to perform To repair the harm you’ve done


And to reestablish your life in the path of righteousness.

If you agree to do them, He will then absolve you, Or forgive you of those sins In the name of Christ.

When completed, You will be reconciled with God, With the church, Your sins will be forgiven, Some of your temporal punishment will be removed, You will have peace of conscience And be stronger for the continuing battle.

B. Let’s consider now what the Bible says about forgiveness. We’ve already looked at the use of the keys in general. We believe Jesus has given His ministers authority Only to declare on the basis of faith and repentance That sins are already forgiven by God Not to forgive them themselves.

We’ve seen you don’t need to be baptized to be forgiven – Though if you have received forgiveness through faith in Christ, You will be baptized.


And you don’t need penance.

We agree there is forgiveness, But that it comes through faith in Jesus Christ.

We agree that sin does injure God’s honor and love And the church of which you are a part.

We agree that sin is serious – There is no greater evil in the world. The Puritans believed That it would be better to cast yourself into hell Than to commit one sin, Because sin is a moral evil, While hell is merely punishment for evil.

We would disagree that some sins are mortal – That they kill God’s grace in you – While others are venial – That they don’t kill that grace.

We believe all sins are mortal – Even the smallest can kill your soul, And it would/has, if you are outside of Christ.

But we also believe that even the greatest sin


Can never kill the grace of God in your soul. If you are His – If you are trusting in Him – No matter what you do, He will never cast you out or disown you. Jesus said regarding His sheep, “And I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand” (John 10:28).

On the other hand, We agree that you need to deal with your sins. You may not lose your sonship or adoption But you will lose something of your fellowship with Him – What we would call His comfortable presence.

What do we believe you must do when you sin? You must repent, confess your sin, and make restitution if necessary.

With regard to repentance, We would agree, You need to be sorry, You need to hate your sin, Primarily because by it You have offended the One you love, And not just because you got caught. And you must turn from it


Purposing to do what’s right.

You must also confess your sins, But not to an earthly priest. You must confess them to your heavenly High Priest. We read in our text, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). David also writes, “When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; my vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer. I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I did not hide; I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the LORD’; and You forgave the guilt of my sin. Therefore, let everyone who is godly pray to You in a time when You may be found” (Ps. 32:3-6).

We also believe in restitution, Which is a form of reparation. If you’ve stolen something, You need to give it back. If you’ve slandered someone Or injured someone’s reputation With some lie, You need to go To those you’ve slandered that person to And ask for their forgiveness, As well as the forgiveness Of the one you’ve slandered.


You need to try to undo the damage you’ve done.

There was a Puritan Who was one day hunting game. When he saw a movement in the bush He shot his crossbow into it, But instead of killing an animal He killed a man.

The Puritan sought out the family Of the man he accidentally killed, And since his wife and children Now had no means to provide for themselves, He provided for them. He made restitution for what he had taken from them.

Restitution isn’t always necessary – Sometimes our sins against the Lord Are such that it doesn’t injure anyone but Him. But when it does hurt someone else You need to try and undo the damage.

But remember, Restitution isn’t the grounds of your forgiveness, It’s only the fruit of it,


Just as forgiving others Isn’t the grounds of our forgiveness, But the fruit of it (Matt. 6:14-15).

Finally, what about absolution? Do you need a priest to forgive you? No. Only God can forgive sin And He does through repentance and faith.

On the other hand, we would certainly agree That it does help your conscience To hear that on the basis of your repentance and faith And on that of God’s Word, That your sins are forgiven, And that any punishment after this life Has been borne by Jesus in His sufferings.

We also agree That the Lord can make you spiritually stronger And a better Christian Through your recovery from sin. That isn’t always the case, But it often is.

And so again,


The Bible doesn’t tie forgiveness to a church – To an institution – But to the Lord Himself.

If you want forgiveness, You must hate your sins – Because you have offended the Lord – And turn from them – Purposing never to commit them again – And you must trust Jesus – Believe He is the Savior, Look to His work alone to make you right with God, With a willingness to submit to His authority as Lord – And you will be forgiven.

The Lord has entrusted the church with this Gospel To show the world how she might be saved. The church does not grant forgiveness, Only God can and does, And He only does so through His Son, Jesus. If you believe in Him, You will be forgiven, you will be saved. Amen. http://www.graceopcmodesto.org