An old Scottish proverb says, "Open confession is good for the soul."
Would anybody disagree with this proverb?
The above quote has Biblical merit because if we are to obtain the salvation of our souls by a holy and righteous God then we must make confession of sin and we must do so on God's terms. A complete and unreserved confession of sin is what a holy God requires. Nothing less will satisfy our Creator.
This confession is not just some psychological form of catharsis or self-atonement whereby we release our pent up guilt in order to feel better about ourselves or to improve our inveterate evil nature or free our human psyche of any emotional discomfort but a Biblical confession, which is acceptable to the Lord, is to agree with God that we have personally sinned (Romans 3:23) against His righteous law. It is to admit that we have broken His commandments.
Sin is a transgression or breaking of God's law. As the sovereign of the universe God is the one who defines sin and sin is always seen in terms of man breaking God's law, statutes, commandments and judgments. It is a crossing over the boundary line and onto somebody else's property as it were. We read in 1 John 3:4 "Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law."
Imagine the law as a line which defines an individual's property boundary. Sin is crossing over that boundary. You can also picture sin as missing the mark on the bull's eye. God requires a perfect hitting of the bull's eye and anything less is sin and is to be seen as a falling short of His glory. "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."
To be theologically precise we must say that a private sin requires a private confession between the sinning party and God against whom we have sinned but a public sin that is done openly and before others requires a public confession.
Today there are various views of what confession means. There is a confession of Jesus Christ as the Lord of all creation and there is the confession of sin itself as something evil.
Let us look at several verses in the Bible to see how the word is used.
1 John 1:9: says “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
The above verse is clearly speaking about confession of sins and the forgiveness that comes to the confessor.
Matthew 10:32 says: “Therefore whoever confesses me before men, him I will also confess before my father who is in heaven.”
This verse in Matthew refers to confessing before others who Jesus is. He is the Lord Jesus Christ and a savior to all who put their trust in Him. If we are to confess Christ before men then we must tell others who this Jesus is and what He came to do on earth. This is an ongoing confession during one's entire life as seen in the word "confesses."
Psalm 32:5 says: “I acknowledged my sin to you, and my iniquity I have not hidden. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,’ and you forgave the iniquity of my sin.”
This verse in Psalm is an Old Testament reference to confession of sin. Notice the transparency of the individual before God. Although God is all knowing and knows our every sin He nevertheless expects us to confess or agree with or acknowledge our individual sins whenever they are committed. They are not to be hidden. Notice the nature of this confession. It is continual and not a one time event as David says, "I will confess my transgressions."
Confession also includes repentance or a change of mind. Before there can be a true confession that is acceptable to God there must be a change of mind which results in turning away from sin. This is what is meant by forsaking sin.
God says "He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy." Proverbs 28:13
The word confession (Greek "homologeo") means "to speak the same thing" or "to agree with God."
Modern psychology, psychiatry and psychotherapy tends to see confession as catharsis. Catharsis is a technique used to relieve tension and anxiety by bringing repressed feelings and fears to consciousness. The entire therapeutic result of this process can also be called catharsis. Much of modern psychotherapy is based on Sigmund Freud's idea of guilt and the removal of this guilt through "mind therapy" or psychotherapy.
Freud knew that man did things that were unacceptable to himself and others and this often brought guilt.
In his 1947 book Psychiatry and Confession John O' Brian (Ph.D) says in an excerpt from his book:
"From what has been said it is evident, first, it was the unbosoming or confessing of certain unpleasant experiences in the past by his patient that revealed to Dr. Breuer the rich therapeutic effects of the cathartic method, the housecleaning of the soul. Psychoanalysis may be said to be but the confessional technique developed by the psychiatrist in the probing of psychic disturbances and in effecting their removal. Secondly, it is evident that the ideal agency for obtaining such disclosures with complete candor is the confessional of the Catholic Church. Here the patient is conscious that his revelation is protected by an inviolable secrecy. He knows that the confessor would gladly sacrifice his life rather than disclose one single word whispered in the confessional.
Furthermore, he is free to enjoy a complete anonymity by going to a confessional where both confessor and penitent are perfect strangers. Every human consideration calculated to prove helpful to the penitent in unbosoming himself of his troubles, sins and disturbances will be found in the regulations governing the administration of the sacrament of confession."
We see from the above excerpt that the Roman Catholic view of confession tries to extricate itself from the methodology of psychoanalysis and in doing so justify itself as the "ideal agency for obtaining such disclosures with complete candor." When viewed in light of scripture it should be apparent that the Roman Catholic view of confession falls short of meeting the parameters of true Biblical confession. As such it merely mimics the humanistic premise of psychoanalysis in finding relief or catharsis in the form of confession of sin to a priest behind a door somewhere within a sacred building called the church.
One must ask why this penitent is going to a priest instead of to the Creator God who alone can forgive sin. Unless this penitent specifically sinned against his priest there is no need for such action. The penitent needs to confess his sins directly to God and not through a human intermediary. Only the Lord has the power to forgive sins. Such confessions as "Forgive me father for I have sinned" do not merit acceptance with God for no man can forgive another persons sins.
Private sins must be confessed to God alone and public sins must be confessed before those who were sinned against or those who witnessed the sin in a gathering of believers.
When Jesus was on earth the Jews knew that God alone could forgive sin and so they thought Jesus committed blasphemy because he told a man that his sins were forgiven.
For example in Luke 5:21 we read: "And the scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, Who is this which speaketh blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God alone.
The scribes and Pharisees knew that God alone could forgive sin but they were not willing to acknowledge that Jesus could forgive sins because they didn't believe Jesus was God. This was proof of their unbelief.
Among the world today there is often a boasting of one's sins in many confessions. A group gathers at a party and one person starts his story of how he engaged in some terrible act and this is followed by another and then another and all the while there is laughing and cursing but this is not true confession that is acceptable to a holy God.
The late R. J. Rushdoony so aptly stated in his book the Cure for souls:
"True confession is more than the mere confession of sins; one can hear such confessions everywhere, from bars to airline flights. Valid confession is to God through Christ. Whether in private prayer, or to a pastor, or to a priest, it is to the Lord because the damaged relationship is primarily to God."
Carlton Pruitt ministers the gospel to the Los Angeles area. Formerly a Hollywood actor (SAG member)and junk removal expert he now spends most of his time studying the scriptures, writing articles, hymns and poems and doing street preaching.
See all his videos on http://www.youtube.com Type LAStreetPreacher in the search bar. CONTACT at Carlton2061@gmail.