Confession of sins

 


  1. BulletConfession is the telling of our sins to a Priest of God to ask forgiveness.


  1. BulletConfession is one of the seven sacraments and is entirely biblical.


  1. BulletTo truly obtain forgives all the elements of the sacrament must be in place (repentance, verbal confession, willingness to do confession and reconciliation).


Objection #1 – Why should I confess my sins to a priest when I can go straight to God?


The Catholic response to that is why not confess your sins to God and to men who God has conferred the power to forgive sins?  Note the power comes from God but Catholics say that Priests act as on his behalf. Why therefore confess our sins to a priest? There are several good reasons starting with the scripture passages John 20: 21-23 and James 5:14-16. In John 20:21-23 Jesus gives his disciples the power to forgive sins, meaning that it is expected that people will confess their sins to the disciples so they can be forgiven as Jesus was departing soon. In James 5:14-16 Jesus explicitly tells them to confess their sins to each other. See for yourself below


John 20:

21 Again Jesus said, "Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you."

22 And with that he breathed on them and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit.

23 If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven."


James 5:

14 Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord.

15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven.

16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.


In John 20: 21-23 several things occur. First Jesus sends the disciples in John 20:21.  That is they must be sent by the Lord. They cannot go on their own. Next in verse 22 he breathes on them the Holy Spirit and in so doing gives them power. In verse 23 Jesus gives his disciples the power to forgive sins, meaning that it was expected that people will confess their sins to the disciples so they can be forgiven as Jesus was departing soon. He clearly places this power in the disciples hand for forgive or not to forgive sins but all done through his power and not theirs. In James 5:14-16 Jesus explicitly tells them to confess their sins to each other and to pray for each other. It was done for the sick but the call was to confess their sins so that they may be healed.  Confession and hence healing can only be effective if it is heard first.


Other supporting verses include 2 Cor. 5:17-20, Acts 19:18 and Matt 16:18-19.


Objection #2 - Confession was never practiced until the church was legalized by Constantine in 313AD.


This is incorrect as the testimony of one of the earliest documents attributed to the apostles testifies to,


The Didache

"Confess your sins in church, and do not go up to your prayer with an evil conscience. This is the way of life. . . . On the Lord’s Day gather together, break bread, and give thanks, after confessing your transgressions so that your sacrifice may be pure" (Didache 4:14, 14:1 [A.D. 70]).


We also have a wealth of information from other sources (www.catholic.com/library/Confession.asp):


The Letter of Barnabas

"You shall judge righteously. You shall not make a schism, but you shall pacify those that contend by bringing them together. You shall confess your sins. You shall not go to prayer with an evil conscience. This is the way of light" (Letter of Barnabas 19 [AD 74]).


Ignatius of Antioch

“For as many as are of God and of Jesus Christ are also with the bishop. And as many as shall, in the exercise of penance, return into the unity of the Church, these, too, shall belong to God, that they may live according to Jesus Christ" (Letter to the Philadelphians 3 [AD 110]).


"For where there is division and wrath, God does not dwell. To all them that repent, the Lord grants forgiveness, if they turn in penitence to the unity of God, and to communion with the bishop" (ibid., 8).


Irenaeus

"[The Gnostic disciples of Marcus] have deluded many women. . . . Their consciences have been branded as with a hot iron. Some of these women make a public confession, but others are ashamed to do this, and in silence, as if withdrawing from themselves the hope of the life of God, they either apostatize entirely or hesitate between the two courses" (Against Heresies 1:22 [A.D. 189]).


What then must I do to obtain Confession?


To obtain confession (See Luke 15:11-32) one must


  1. BulletBe sorry for one sins through an examination of ones conscience.

  2. BulletConfess one sins to a priest.

  3. BulletResolve to not offend God any more.

  4. BulletPerform the penance that the Priest assigns you.


Questions:


Can you prove that confession of sins to a Priest is expressly forbidden in the Bible?