35. They who teach that contrition is not necessary on the part of those who intend to buy souls out of purgatory or to buy confessional privileges preach unchristian doctrine.
It is interesting that Luther says here that you must be “contrite” but he does not say that you can’t buy souls out of purgatory or buy forgiveness of sins. In this thesis what he objects to is the idea that you don’t even have to be sorry for your sins and the purchased indulgences will still work. This is what was being preached. Luther had spoken before about the need for contrition in order to receive true forgiveness. Here he states that to expect forgiveness without true contrition is an “unchristian doctrine”.
Christian doctrine would tell us that we receive forgiveness from God when we humble ourselves before the cross of Christ and believe that His death paid for all our sins. When you think about it how arrogant is it to see ourselves at the foot of the cross and believe that Christ’s death on the cross was not enough in itself, but it still takes our action to bring true forgiveness. The idea that we could do anything more to merit forgiveness when Christ has already humbled Himself and given His life is just plain ridiculous.
We believe that the price of forgiveness has already been paid by the death of Christ on the cross and we cannot do anything more to earn that forgiveness, it is the gift of God.
Dear Lord in Heaven, please forgive my arrogance as I measure my efforts to bring forgiveness rather than trust completely in your saving act on the cross. I covet the salvation that I do not deserve. Through Jesus Christ, Amen.