Explaining Confession


How do I explain the Sacrament of Reconciliation to someone who is not a member of the Church? I have been asked why Catholics do it and why we don’t simply go directly to God?

Can sins be forgiven without going through a priest?
Is there salvation outside the church?
And if so, why bother with Confession in the first place?

I know about the authority passed down from the apostles, and about the sacrament in general, but I’m not sure how to piece these things together to give a good answer.


Using Christ’s Sacraments IS “going directly to God.”


Leviticus 5: God made confession part of the Law. Man was commanded to bring a Lamb as a sin offering to a priest, confessing his sin.

Matthew 5: Jesus did not come to abolish the law, but to fulfill it.

John 1:29: Jesus is the Lamb of God. An offering from God for our sin. Now we only need to confess our sins, and no longer have to bring the sacrifice since Jesus fulfilled the Law and became the sacrifice for our sin.

Matthew 9:1-7: God has given authority to man to forgive sins through Jesus Christ.

James 5:16: We are commanded to confess our sins to each other, and to pray for one another.

John 20:23: Jesus breathes on them and gives them the power to forgive sins. The only other time God breathed on man is when he breathed a soul into him (Genesis 2:7). The next time will be when he destroys the Antichrist…the man of Lawlessness (2 Thessalonians 2:8).

That should at least get you going explaining it from a biblical perspective. I’d suggest praying about it prior to trying to explain it to this person.


Anyone can go directly to God and receive forgivness, God would never turn away someone becuase they did not go to a preist. However, Christ instituted the Sacrament of Confession as the preferable way to seek forgivness. The graces that one receives in through this sacrament are extraordinary. It purifys our soul back to a state of Grace. Confessing to a priest is very humbling and the priest can give you advice how to avoid falling into sin. As a former Protestant I can tell you that the Seal of Confession was one thing I really like. You can talk to another human being about your sins and know that they will be kept confidential.

  1. Sins are to be confessed to one another. James 5:16
  2. Jesus gave the Apostles power over sin. Matthew 16:19, 18:18
  3. Jesus told each and every sinner that their sins were forgiven. We are supposed to hear those words. Matthew 9:2, Mark 2:5, Luke 5:20, 7:48, Luke 10:16
  4. Jesus is the one Mediator between God and man. We no longer go directly to God, but rather, through His Son, or His Son’s ambassadors. Jesus ascended, leaving only ambassadors. Luke 10:16, 1 Timothy 2:5
  5. Paul was an ambassador for Christ. 2 Corinthians 5:20
  6. Paul had a ministry of reconciliation. 2 Corinthians 5:18-19
  7. Paul forgave sins in the person of Christ 2 Corinthians 2:10
  8. The Priest sits in the person of Christ as He absolves us of our sin, exactly as Paul and the Apostles did.

2,000 years of Church practice supports this doctrine, in both the Catholic Church as well as the Eastern Orthodox Churches. The King James bible, the Douay-Rheims, the Confraternity, the Knox and several other bibles support these doctrines 100%.

Newer, modified and agenda-driven bibles do not.


We can always be forgiven for mortal sins with an act of perfect contrition! However, most of us don’t have two way communication with God to make sure we’re in a State of Grace. With confession, we have the assurance of Our Lord that we are forgiven of any mortal sin. “Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them.” Plus, we get amazing Graces to help us that others have already mentioned. For those outside of the Church through no fault of their own, God finds ways to impart Graces to them outside of the sacraments. But the sacraments are God’s wonderful design for us to have!


Also keep in mind that in order for us to be forgiven of a mortal sin with an act of perfect contrition, we must have the intention of going to Confession as soon as possible since this is the way that Jesus has chosen to forgive our sins. Confession is still necessary, but if we have perfect contrition and then die before we are able to get to Confession, then God will forgive us.

God bless

closed #8

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