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Why and To Whom Should We Confess Our Sins?

Posted January 4, 2009


Hi again C____,

Your question which was:

No, it does not say, 'that your sins may be forgiven.' Here is what it does say:
Jas 5:16  Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

Christ came to save sinners, and He did just that. His sacrifice is sufficient for the sins of the whole world, and not just for believers:

1Ti 4:10  For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially [not exclusively] of those that believe.
...and lest we miss the point, John puts it this way:
1Jn 2:2  And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.

This verse in not an encouragement for God's people to go into great detail displaying their sins before each other or the world. Here is what David reveals about his sins:

Psa 51:4  Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, [and] be clear when thou judgest.

This is not to say that we are not expected to apologize to those we sin against, but it does tell us that those sins are between us and those we offend and God. They are not the business of concern of those who are not involved. Christ wants us all to realize that "in Adam" we each are the "chief of sinners" and as such are guilty of "the blood of all the prophets from Abel to today:"

Luk 11:49  Therefore also said the wisdom of God, I will send them prophets and apostles, and [some] of them they shall slay and persecute:
Luk 11:50  That the blood of all the prophets, which was shed from the foundation of the world, may be required of this generation;
Luk 11:51  From the blood of Abel unto the blood of Zacharias, which perished between the altar and the temple: verily I say unto you, It shall be required of this generation.

"This generation" is the generation reading these words, all who, with the apostle can confess:

1Ti 1:15  This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.

Our healing is not complete until we come to see what we all are in Adam. Only then can we see just how much is involved in our healing.

"That you may be healed" in no way means 'or you will not be healed.' We will all be healed of the disease of death, but it will be through death and through confessing that we are "chief of sinners, guilty, through our Adamic flesh, of the blood of all the prophets.

I hope this gives you a better perspective on Jas 5:16, and I hope you can now see that it has nothing at all in common with the Catholic tradition of confessing to a priest. "Confess you faults one to another," not in minute detail and not to a priest, but to the one against whom you have sinned.

Mat 18:15  Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.
Your brother in Christ,

Mike