[quote=JaneFrances]Longer, Biblical, and explanatory:
Throughout history, God has made it abundantly clear that we are to confess our sins before others. We see in the Old Testament the confession of sins according the Old Law:
“The Lord said to Moses, ‘Tell the Israelites: If a man or woman commits a fault against his fellow man and wrongs him, thus breaking faith with the Lord, he shall confess the wrong he has done. . .” (Numbers 5:5-7)
We read in the Old Testament: “He who conceals his sins prospers not, but he who confesses and forsakes them obtains mercy.” (Proverbs 28:13)
Then, we read in the New Testament, the practices of the disciples of John the Baptist: “At that time Jerusalem, all Judea, and the whole region around the Jordan were going out to him. They were being baptized by him in the Jordan River as they confessed their sins.” (Matt. 3:5-6)
Before Christ, the Jews were subject the precepts of the Law. They were required to confess their sins before others that they may make sin offerings in reparation. The Jews observed days of atonement during which they came together with fasting and they confessed their sins and even those of their fore-fathers. Hiding one’s sins was considered harmful to one’s soul and to the community on the whole. This concept of confessing your sins to others was not new or objectionable or something weird to the early Church (especially the Jewish converts). The Old Testament idea of “confession” was not just a confession of a man before God alone. Instead, confession, in a general sense, was a communal act that placed a man at the mercy of God, humbled before others and subject to ritual reparation.
With the death and resurrection of Christ, we were given the forgiveness of sin for the salvation of our souls. Christ became our once and for all sacrifice which is the ultimate atonement for sins. No longer do we have to kill bulls or birds. . .The Lamb was slain for our sins. However, our forgiveness is still dependant upon our recognition of that sin, our confession of it, and our intention to amend our lives according to God’s will. The apostles, leading the early Church, taught this. This is why we read in Acts that those who had once been led astray, “who had become believers came forward and openly confessed their former deeds” (Acts. 19:18). It was not sufficient that they just confess before God. They were compelled to “come forward” and confess before others so that they would renounce their old ways and thus obey “the word of the Lord [to] continue to spread with influence and power” (Acts 19:20).
St. James is very clear in his instruction: “Hence, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be saved. For the fervent petition of a holy man is powerful indeed” (James 5:16). Here we see the workings of the early Church in matters of the healing ministry of confession and forgiveness. We are told to “confess your sins to one another” that we may receive healing. Once again, we see in Scripture that confession is not just a “me and God” thing.
We don’t confess our sins because we think we’re telling God something he doesn’t already know. He knows us better than we know ourselves. It is only by the working of His Spirit that we can even come to know our sins! We pray for forgiveness, according to Jesus’ instruction (Luke 11), because God uses our humble confession to change us. It is in asking that we receive forgiveness. Confessing our sins has such an amazing way of transforming our wills and conforming our hearts towards Christ. We aren’t telling God anything he doesn’t know. We confess and ask for forgiveness so that we are humbled as we recognize and verbalize our sins and see them as Christ sees them.
St. John, too, addresses this matter of confession as a “fellowship” issue. In the first chapter of 1 John, he tells us that “if we walk in light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of his Son Jesus cleanses us from all sin. If we say, ‘We are free of the guilt of sin,’ we deceive ourselves; the truth is not to be found in us. But if we confess our sins, he who is just can be trusted to forgive our sins and cleanse us from every wrong” (1 John 1:7-9). Our lives as Christians are to be walked “in the light.” All our deeds are to be known that we would be humbled and honest as we seek together the forgiveness that is promised through Christ’s blood. We must confess our sins before others, not just to God.
This is precisely why we as Catholics, according to the instruction of our Lord and his holy Apostles, seek the healing grace of confession! God wants nothing more than our very hearts, souls and bodies. It is in confessing our sins openly and with a contrite heart that we “bow humbly under God’s mighty hand, so that in due time he may lift you high” (1 Peter 5:6).
Bravo! Well said!! :clapping: