CONFESSION (part 2)
CONFESSION TO WHOM? - WHAT DOES THE ROMAN CATHOLIC BIBLE SAY?
The Roman Catholic Church teaches that we must confess our sins to a priest in order that we may be forgiven. In fact, she goes so far as to say that "...it is necessary by divine law to confess to a priest each and every mortal sin..."20 Roman Catholicism declares that salvation itself depends on this.
But just exactly where did this ‘divine law’ come from we may well ask? It certainly did not come from God. Nor indeed can it be found in the pages of the Roman Catholic Bible! The ‘Church fathers’ knew nothing of its existence. Never once is there any mention of a priest—in connection with the Christian Faith—in the entire New Testament. In actual fact, there is no mention of the office of a priest in all the listings of Offices and Officers that were to be appointed in the Christian Church, for the simple reason that true Christianity has only ONE priest and He is the GREAT HIGH PRIEST, JESUS CHRIST!
While we are on the subject of priests, allow me to add something that should be most revealing to you, the Roman Catholic—the primary function of a priest is to perform sacrifices. The Roman Catholic Bible informs us that there has been ONE sacrifice performed ONCE AND FOR ALL, that of the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ. Some Scriptures from the Letter to the Hebrews will bear this out:
Hebrews 9:26 - "...But now ONCE FOR ALL He has appeared at the end of the ages to take away sin by HIS SACRIFICE."
Hebrews 9:28 - "...so also Christ, offered ONCE to take away the sins of many..."
Hebrews 10:14 - "For by ONE OFFERING He has made perfect forever those who are being consecrated."
Hebrews 10:18 - "Where there is forgiveness of these (sins), there is NO LONGER OFFERING FOR SIN."
Seeing as there has been ONE sacrifice made for all time, there are no supplementary sacrifices required and therefore no further need for priests! The Roman Catholic Bible itself supports this fact in its lists of Church officers: "...apostles...prophets...teachers..." (1 Corinthians 12:28); and in Ephesians 4:11: "... apostles... prophets... evangelists... pastors and teachers." Again, no reference to priests.
It is quite obvious from the pages of the Roman Catholic Bible whom the true believer is to confess his sins to and whom he is to seek forgiveness from. In the Gospel of Mark 2:7, the Jews asked the question, "...who but GOD ALONE can forgive sins?" The Jewish priesthood of the Old Testament did on no occasion hear the confession of each individual’s sins; nor did they ever give absolution, for they knew this power belonged to God, and that God alone was the One who could, and did, forgive sins, and that He appoints this power to no man!
We see from Acts 8:22 that the apostle Peter, whom Rome contends was the first Pope, did not hear Simon the Samarian’s confession. Simon did not confess his sins to Peter but was directed by the apostle to: "Repent of this wickedness of yours and PRAY TO THE LORD that, if possible, your intention may be forgiven." If ever there was an opportunity for Peter to display his alleged ‘power to forgive’, this was it. Yet we see that Peter did not dare take on the role that belongs to GOD ALONE!
True repentance, which is a gift given by God to the sinner, will always lead one to the true God; to an acknowledgement of, and a turning away from, one’s sins and to a wholehearted belief in God’s only Gospel. Judas, the traitor, who of course did not go to God—the only One who can make us clean from sin and guilt—was so overcome with guilt that he committed suicide. The sorrow he had for his sin was a worldly sorrow which leads to death. There is a godly sorrow which leads one to God and eternal life (see 2 Corinthians 7:9,10). It is to God, and God alone, whom the Roman Catholic Bible directs the believer to confess his sins: "If we acknowledge our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from every wrongdoing" (1 John 1:9). The prophet Micah says: "Who is there like You, the God who removes guilt and pardons sin..." (7:18).
Further evidence from the pages of the Roman Catholic Bible of just who people turned to when in need of forgiveness may be found in Luke 18:9-14. This passage describes for us the parable of the tax collector and the Pharisee. The Pharisee thanked God that he was not a sinner as the publican, and no doubt those like him. But the tax collector came humbly to God, "...beat his breast and prayed, ‘O God, be merciful to me a sinner’" (v.13). This man did not need a priest, he did not seek a priest, but went directly to God confessing the fact that he was a sinner, and Jesus said in verse 14 that this man "...went home justified..."
The Roman Catholic Bible proclaims that all true believers may "...confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help" (Hebrews 4:16). All true believers have "...through the blood of Jesus...confidence of entrance into the Sanctuary" (Hebrews 10:19), "for through Him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father" (Ephesians 2:18; cf.3:12; Romans 5:2). These Scriptures demonstrate clearly that every Gospel-believing Christian has DIRECT ACCESS TO GOD and needs no intermediary other than the Great High Priest, Jesus Christ.
The apostle John, writing to the believers, declared: "...if anyone does sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, JESUS CHRIST THE RIGHTEOUS ONE" (1 John 2:1). The Lord Jesus Christ is the believer’s sole Advocate with the Father. He has not given this role to, nor does He share it with, any priest of the Roman Catholic Church.
It is important to note that not every Roman Catholic priest who enters the confessional is convinced that he has the ‘power to forgive’. One former priest of Rome, Dr. Joseph Zacchello, had many misgivings. His following admission no doubt speaks for many: "Where my doubts were really troubling me was inside the confessional box. People were coming to me, kneeling down in front of me, confessing their sins to me. And I, with a sign of the cross, was promising that I had the power to forgive their sins. I, a sinner, a man, was taking God’s place, God’s right, and that terrible voice was penetrating me saying, ‘You are depriving God of His glory; If sinners want to obtain forgiveness of their sins they must go to God and not to you; It is God’s law that they have broken, not yours. To God, therefore, they must make confession; and to God alone they must pray for forgiveness. No man can forgive sins, but Jesus can and does forgive sins.’"21
To the thinking Roman Catholic, I ask this question: ‘Why go to a human priest, a sinful man, to seek forgiveness which he cannot give, when the Word of God clearly directs and instructs His people to go to the GREAT HIGH PRIEST, to the SINLESS MAN, the Lord Jesus Christ?!!’
CHRIST JESUS - THE ONLY MEDIATOR BETWEEN GOD AND MAN!!
As was established earlier, the Roman Catholic Bible teaches that there is only ONE Mediator between God and man, and He is the Lord Jesus Christ. The New Testament knows nothing of priests acting as intermediaries between God and man, nor incidentally, does it give the role of Mediator or co-mediator to Mary! Paul’s first letter to Timothy plainly states: "For there is one God. There is also ONE MEDIATOR between God and the human race, CHRIST JESUS..." (1 Timothy 2:5).
With the Son of God as our Mediator, what need have we for any other? "To interpose any official body of men between the individual Christian and God is to run counter to the very genius of the Christian religion."22
The only way a man can find peace with God and be forgiven of all his sins, past, present and future, is to come to Him, not through a human priest, but through the Lord Jesus Christ. The following two Scriptures from the Roman Catholic Bible should dispense, for all time, any doubt of this:
Hebrews 4:14 - "...WE HAVE A GREAT HIGH PRIEST who has passed through the heavens, JESUS, THE SON OF GOD..."
Hebrews 7:25 - "...He (Jesus) is always able to save those who APPROACH GOD THROUGH HIM, since He lives forever to make intercession for them"
From the above information and Scriptures, we may confidently say that True confession, as taught in the pages of the Roman Catholic Bible, is when it is made directly to God in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Though the Roman Catholic Church claims certain Scriptures in support of their doctrine of confession to a priest, we have seen that this teaching does not concur with other passages from the Roman Catholic Bible. They are texts that have been taken out of their context and given meanings that were never intended by the writers, and which support a practice that is pagan in its origin, and therefore could not be of God.
The Christian’s Advocate with the Father is not a common man, it is not a sinful human priest. The believer’s one and only Advocate is the sinless Son of the Living God, the One who died for God’s elect and rose again that they too might live—the Lord Jesus Christ. With directions as clear as we have from the Roman Catholic Bible, why would any man insist on confessing his sins to another man, when he has been given clear directions in Scripture to go directly to God and confess his sins?
The confessional is a place that is often feared and approached with apprehension by some. To others it is a place of extreme embarrassment, especially Roman Catholic women, who are at times subjected to very personal questions that often deal with intimate details of their married life. Lucien Vinet, a former Roman Catholic priest, expresses his concern and compassion toward these women: "Poor Roman Catholic women! We know well that your kind souls are tortured to death by this terrible Roman obligation of telling, not only your sins, but also the most intimate secrets of your married life. As an ex-priest I can tell you that these mental tortures imposed upon your souls are not a prescription of the Saviour of mankind to obtain forgiveness of your sins, but are pure inventions of men to keep your minds and hearts under the control of a system, the torturous Roman religious organization. I must admit that as a priest I had no power to forgive your sins. No priest has such powers." 23
Confession to a priest provides the Roman Catholic with a false sense of security, a belief that all is right with he and his god. Sin needs to be confessed/acknowledged to the Holy God, through His Son Jesus Christ, for it is He whom we have offended! Repentance also needs to take place, for the Lord Jesus said: "...Repent and believe in the Gospel" (Mark 1:15) and "...if you do not repent you will all perish..." (Luke 13:3). Proverbs 28:13 declares: "He who conceals his sin prospers not, but he who CONFESSES AND FORSAKES them obtains mercy."
If people would only believe the Gospel. "If people would only read their Bibles, and believe what God tells them, they would soon find by happy experience the power of His truth, and be incapable of accepting those deadly errors which are ensnaring and enslaving so many in these days, of which private confession and priestly absolution are the most pernicious."24
Perhaps the most fitting way to close our study on confession is to allow the words of another former Roman Catholic priest, Charles Chiniquy, to speak to the heart of you, the Roman Catholic: "With a blush on my face, and regret in my heart, I confess before God and man, that I have been through the confessional plunged for twenty-five years in that bottomless sea of iniquity, in which the blind priests of Rome have to swim day and night....Yes I was bound in conscience, to put into the ears, the mind, the imagination, the memory, the heart and soul of women and girls, questions of such a nature, the direct and immediate tendency of which is to fill the minds and hearts of both priests and penitents with thoughts and temptations of such a degrading nature, that I do not know any words adequate to express them. Pagan antiquity has never seen any institution more polluting than the confessional. I was degraded and polluted by the confessional just as all the priests of Rome are. It has required the whole blood of the great Victim, who died on Calvary for sinners, to purify me."25
Dear Roman Catholic, repent and believe the Gospel of Christ and His Righteousness and confess your sins to God through Jesus Christ alone. He awaits all His chosen ones with eyes of mercy and a heart of grace.