Thursday, March 20, 2008

Confessing Sin

This morning on the news I heard a report about on-line confessionals. Interesting. Go on line and post your sin.

You know, due to the Roman Catholic teaching that one must confess one's sins to a priest, we have tended to knee-jerk (as is too often our response to issues). We proclaim that you can confess your sins directly to the Lord. And that is, at least on the surface, true. Yet Scripture tells us to confess our sins to one another (James 5: 16) and then to pray for one another. For the last 150 years, that has pretty much been done by walking down the aisle during the "invitation," and filling out a card that says, "I have sinned. Please forgive me." Then an elder or a minister reads the person's "confession" -- followed by something like, "Well, brother, we all sin."

I think that James is calling us to something more. He is calling us to accountability and community. Yes, I can receive forgiveness of my sin as I confess it to the Father. But when I share my sin (and my struggle) with others, there is an accountability that comes with that. And if those to whom I confess really care about me, they are going to journey with me through it.

This is why the most successful treatment of alcohol / drug abuse / sexual addiction is not found in prescription drugs or even treatment centers. It is found in AA and programs like that. ACCOUNTABILITY. We need it in our lives. And I like what I see happening in churches. When a person comes forward with a sin struggle, it's not as likely that he or she will simply say, "I have sinned," followed by a prayer -- and then off to Luby's. And then that person is fodder for the gossip mill for a while.

Rather, people are coming looking for help. And more and more I see fellow strugglers pulling up beside them to be with them through it. Here in Decatur, I see the majority of the church embracing that person (and I don't mean just after the service -- I'm talking about where he lives) instead of shunning him or her. it is a beautiful thing. It is a Christlike thing. It is church.


Anonymous said...

This is my second attempt to post. The first one caused my pc to crash.

About your comments: AMEN!

I know from my own life how important it is to be held accountable. Had it not been for an elder 14 years ago, I may still be using tobacco. But he prayed with me, called me, and encouraged me. You know him. It was Joe McKay.

Jeff said...

Great stuff. Hard for me. Let go and let God is more than just a cute saying for me - it's a door I've got to be willing to walk through.

Josh Ross said...

We need leaders to pave the way. Ministers, elders, deacons, and ministry leaders need to usher people into the space where authenticity and honesty abounds.

Blackie said...

You really seem to have an anti-Catholic bent Rick. Unfortunately, you also don't really know what you're talking about with regard to the Catholic faith.

Catholic Confession
In my opinion the passages are clear as in this case.

John 20:21-23 is so important.
"21 He said therefore to them again: Peace be to you. As the Father hath sent me, I also send you. 22 When he had said this, he breathed on them; and he said to them: Receive ye the Holy Ghost. 23 Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them; and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained."

My thinking is that if our Lord had not intended to make the Sacrament of Reconciliation a means of grace unto salvation, then why in the world would He have made this statement and given both this power and command to the presbyters of His church?

James 5:16 & 1st John 1:9 also offer us more insight into this doctrine.

James 5: 14 Is any man sick among you? Let him bring in the priests of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer of faith shall save the sick man: and the Lord shall raise him up: and if he be in sins, they shall be forgiven him. 16 Confess therefore your sins one to another: and pray one for another, that you may be saved. For the continual prayer of a just man availeth much.

1st John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all iniquity.

All these passages expressly speak of confession of sins and so I have to ask, then just how will those outside the Catholic Church explain the obvious link between these passages.

Here is a further outline for study on this sacrament courtesy of John Martignoni and his Bible Christian Society

A. Confess your sins to men
~ Leviticus 5:5-6 (“All scripture…”: 2 Tim 3:16)
(Law is a shadow: Hebrews 10:1)
~ 1 John 1:9
~ James 5:16

B. Can men forgive sins?
~ Only God has the power to forgive sins but He exercises this power through men.
~ Mark 2:7
~ Matthew 9:1-8
When the crowds saw it, they were afraid , and the glorified God, who had given such authority to men.
- Matthew 9:8

To me, the scriptures are clear, and I can't help but praise and thank God for His wisdom and mercy that (knowing the weaknesses of mankind) equipped His church with the means to help His children overcome our weaknesses and sins.

Rick Ross said...


Blackie, Do the Scriptures you cite REALLY limit us confessing our sins to a priest? Does "one another" mean only priests? It seems you are being awfully sensitive and quick to judge.

Ane nowhere does it suggest that our forgiveness of sin rests in the hands of a priest. Only in the blood of Jesus.

Grace and peace.