Must I confess my sins to God, a priest, or neither?
by Shawn Brasseaux
In Christendom, there are basically two types of confession: auricular confession to a priest (Roman Catholic) and direct confession to God in prayer (Protestant). Should we confess our sins to a priest to get God’s forgiveness? Should we confess our sins directly to God for forgiveness? Or is neither of these practices necessary?
Religion’s “short account system” of confessing sins is based on 1 John 1:9: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” What is rarely understood is that this verse has nothing to do with us.
Primarily, we do not practice 1 John 1:9 because John is Israel’s apostle (Galatians 2:9). Paul is our apostle, not John (Romans 11:13); Paul is God’s Word to and about us, and Paul never writes anything like 1 John 1:9. The doctrine found in 1 John belongs in Israel’s prophetic program, not our mystery program (the Dispensation of the Grace of God). Confession of sins was Israel’s doctrine under the Mosaic Law (Leviticus 16:21; Leviticus 26:40; Numbers 5:6,7; Ezra 10:1; Nehemiah 9:16-38; Daniel 9:20; et al.). Furthermore, in Matthew 3:6 and Mark 1:5, John the Baptist water baptized Jews who confessed their sins.
Secondly, 1 John 1:9 is not written to saved people; it is directed to lost Jews. We read in 1 John 2:12, “I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name’s sake.” Apparently, there are two groups of people in 1 John: some saved (forgiven), and some lost (not forgiven). In 1 John 1:9, John urges lost Jews to confess their sins in order to be saved. In other words, 1 John 1:9 is a salvation verse for lost Jews—it was not for any believers, believing Jews or us!
Before Jesus left the planet, He gave His apostles the power to forgive sins in His absence, for on the day of Pentecost, He would give them the Holy Ghost and they would continue to do what He had done for the last three years. They were to continue with converting Israel. John 20:21-23: “ Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.  And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost:  Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.” Israel’s apostles loosed themselves from this commission in Galatians 2:7-9, and gave us Gentiles over to the Apostle Paul. (In order words, the Roman Catholic proof text of John 20:21-23 does not authorize their priests to forgive sins in our program, but Israel’s apostles to forgive Israel’s sins in Israel’s program. According to the context, John 20:21-23 has absolutely nothing to do with us in this, the Dispensation of Grace, and it has nothing to do with what God is doing today.)
Lastly, we do not practice confession of sins because our salvation and fellowship with God are independent of our performance. We are forgiven, apart from anything we have done. In Colossians 2:13, our Apostle Paul tells us that we are “forgiven of all trespasses [in Christ].” Ephesians 4:32 says, “God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” And Colossians 3:13, “even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.” We are forgiven (past tense), not because we confess our sins, but because of Christ’s finished cross work on Calvary. In Christ, we have unbroken fellowship with God forever and ever. How many times can we be forgiven of “all unrighteousness?” Only once. In Christ, now and forever, we are forgiven of all sins—past, present, and future!
» What should I do when I sin? (UPCOMING)
» Will God punish me when I sin?
» Do priests today have the authority to forgive sins? (UPCOMING)