|How do we confess our sins without a confessional or a priest?
What about when a Christian sins? That’s an important question, because, as James wrote, “We all stumble in many ways” even as believers. We won’t be perfect until we get to heaven. So what do we do when we sin? The apostle John wrote to one church:
“My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.” (1 John 2:1-2)
We don’t have to go to a priest to pray for us, or a saint to pray for us. Instead, Jesus Himself pleads our case before God. John says that Christ himself literally is our defense attorney before God! How can Jesus get us off when we are really guilty? All Jesus has to do is point to the nail scars in His hands! Paid in full by His atoning death for us! Case dismissed!
When a believer sins, they don’t lose their salvation, they just feel like they have! Unconfessed sin puts a distance between us and God, until we admit our fault to Him. Every husband knows what that’s like. When you have a spat with your wife, and it’s your fault, you’re still married. But you’re not going to enjoy that relationship until you say, “Honey, I’m sorry!” We need to do the same with God as soon as we realize we’ve done wrong. John explains:
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 Jn. 1:9)
John does not say “go to a confessional” but simply to confess directly to God. Confess literally means to “agree” with God concerning our sin. Don’t excuse your sin. Just come clean with God. He already knows about it anyway, but He wants you to own up to it. King David wrote in Psalm 32 about what it was like as a believer when he refused to confess his sin to God,
“When I refused to confess my sin,
my body wasted away, and I groaned all day long.
“Day and night your hand of discipline was heavy on me.
My strength evaporated like water in the summer heat.” (vv 3-4)
This was the burden of a guilty conscience and broken fellowship with God. Fortunately, David got tired of fighting God,
“Finally, I confessed all my sins to You
and stopped trying to hide my guilt.
I said to myself, “I will confess my rebellion to the Lord.”
And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone. (v. 5)
David didn’t have to go to a priest. Neither do we. Jesus is our High Priest! Are there some things you should get help from a pastor on? Of course! But you can confess your sins directly to God, and certainly, if you’ve hurt anyone, go and make it right with them too.