For Luther confession is the sign and the demonstration of the faithful attitude of the Christian in the light of the Gospel through faith in Jesus Christ. Thereby we acknowledge ourselves our whole life long as sinners and we pray for grace. Luther distinguishes the heart’s confession for God and the confession pronounced by believers for other Christians. When the word of forgiveness is pronounced by another person, the security of forgiveness can be experienced more strongly. So, confession has an important pastoral aspect for Luther. Confession is entrusted to all Christians: There is no distinction between priests and laity. Confession does not have to happen by compulsion, but because of the happiness brought about by confession. The word of forgiveness and the religious appropriation through the salvation desirous conscience are the heart of confession. According to Luther, our work is that we feel sorry for our sins and we desire comfort and refreshment of the soul. God’s work is that He acquits us of our sins.
Confession, as understood by Luther, bears an apologetical dynamic: he criticizes all symptoms of the works righteousness of medieval indulgence practices, where confession was combined with the indulgence business. The justification is only given through the word of forgiveness of Christ in faith, according to Luther. Although Luther resists the practice of confession of that day, he refuses to abolish it due to pastoral reasons. Luther connects being a Christian and confession strongly together: confessing becomes the hallmark of a Christian.