Why Can’t We Just Confess to God?



Q. Doesn’t 1 John 9 say that “if we confess our sins He (God) will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrightiousness” mean that when we confess, God is forgiving us not the person we confess to,

A. Yes, of course, it absolutely is God who forgives through the priest.
The priest is His representative and provides audible assurance of forgiveness, and counsel.

In fact, if someone has the wrong heart attitude and is able to fool the priest that he is repentant when he is not and has no intention to avoid the sin in the future—God does not forgive the sin in actuality. So, even though the penitent hears the words of absolution, God is not mocked. In fact, if he withholds confessing a deadly sin out of embarrassment, the confession of other sins and the absolution are worthless. Again, God is not mocked. If a deadly sin is truly, accidently forgotten it needs to be confessed next time but it does not invalidate the confession.

Q. Can’t we confess to God privately?

A. Absolutely. And the sooner the better. The sacrament of Confession is not required for minor kinds of sin, but we are required to go to confession for grave, as in deadly, sin. Venial sins we may confess and be forgiven privately by praying to God on our own.

But it is encouraged to confess all sin as soon as you are convicted of it.

Q. So the Catholic Priest can say with Biblical authority that your sins have been forgiven without some special positional statement stemming from Peter.

A. It is not “a positional statement from Peter” but from Jesus Christ Himself,
as recorded by the Apostle in Sacred Scripture, John 20. Protestant Interpretation vs Catholic Interpretation. Both are valid interpretations as interpretations go. But how can the truth, the true interpretation be found? I am convinced that the only way is to go outside of the Bible and find out what the earliest Christians believed and practiced in relation to this verse. They practiced oral, audible confession to the whole community at first and later made it easier on weak souls by allowing confession to be private between the penitent and the priest.

9 Responses

  1. BFHU,

    Again your measuring sin. Did I not mention that God DOES NOT MEASURE SIN? Its all the same size to HIM and they are all DEADLY. One sin is enough to keep you out of the kingdom. This is why our society is all messed up. In order for humans to feel less guilty about thier sins they need to measure how bad the sin is—and you are ADVOCATING this on your site. A true born again knows that all sin is bad whether its the guy who cheated on his wife right down to the guy who took a candy from the news stand. ITS ALL BAD!!! And the Cathloic Church wants to know why they get so much criticism for thier doctrines.

    1 John 5:17 ALL unrighteousness is sin: and there is a sin not unto death.

    So confess to GOD because only HE can forgive sins.

  2. I agree all sin is sin and it is bad. But there IS a difference in the gravity of various sins. And the verse in I John 5:17 that you partially quote above proves it….the rest of the verse….”there is a sin not unto death”

    You claim to be sola scriptura and yet your theology cannot make sense out of the whole verse you partially quoted above and many other as well.

  3. Lena, How generally as an Evangelical do you interpret Christ’s command in John 20:21-23 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”?

    How do you understand what Christ empowered them to do or what He meant by “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld”?

  4. “But there IS a difference in the gravity of various sins. ” —bfhu

    BHFU, thats the problem. Only man see’s the diffrence—but not GOD.

  5. Dear Lena,

    Where does it say that God sees all sin as equal in Sacred Scripture?

  6. asimplesinner,

    What Jesus was saying in that scripture is that in order for us (humans) to be forgiven, we need to forgive those who sin against us. If we cannot forgive those who sin against us, how can we expect our LORD to forgive us our sins? Read the Father’s prayer. It is a repeat of what this scripture means—“forgive us our sins AS WE FORGIVE those who sin against us”.

  7. Wait lena, you are saying that when Christ tells the apostles that they can bind or lose people’s sins… that whom they forgive are forgiven and whom they held bound are held bound… and that is to mean that the sinners in question are forgiven on the degree that the Apostles are forgiving of trespasses against the Apostles?

    You do also realize that confession is found in the Early Church and spoken of by the fathers and can be found in all Christian churches before the reformation, right?

  8. I can see the merits of both sides of this argument, but coming from a Protestant (non-denominational) background my question is this: why do we have to confess to a priest? If we are all part of the holy/royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:5+9) why can’t we just confess to each other as the early Christians did? Honestly, I think that the lack of confession in the Protestant church has been a great loss, but I do not feel that it is necessary for me to go to someone who has been ordained as a priest to confess my sins. Yes, they may be trained to give absolution, that’s great, but why not go to any other follower of Christ and confess my sins before them and before God. God is the only one really forgiving here (unless it’s something you did against them, then their forgiveness is pretty important too for both of you). I don’t think that confession needs to necessarily be before the entire community (although I’m all for that if that’s what someone needs to do), but does there really need to be rules set in place for this?

  9. dacker,

    Good honest question. You are correct of course that we are all a part of the priesthood of believers. This priesthood also existed in the OT. But there were ministerial priests in the OT also, to whom the Jews took their sacrifices to atone for their sins.

    In the NT, we also have ministerial priests who offer the sacrifice of the mass who is that ONE sacrifice, Jesus. This is a re-presentation of that one sacrifice not another sacrifice. And as in the OT we go to the ministerial priest for atonement of sin in the sacrament of confession.

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