How and when and to whom should we Confess is a common question asked from those raised Catholic but not often asked by others, and yet it is such an important spiritual principle to understand! Let’s look at what the Bible says…
Confession as the Bible promotes it is not to a Priest but to the person who have wronged. This is why Yeshua said in the times of the Temple not even to bring your offering before God if you have an unresolved issue with someone, and to immediately go to them and make reconciliation and restitution if necessary (Matthew 5:23-24).
James 5:16 says,
Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.
But does this give us license to sin against one another? Absolutely not! In fact, the Torah says in Lev. 25:17 “…you shall not wrong one another” so it is actually a commandment and should be avoided at all costs as we are actually acting unfaithful to God when we hurt another but if you do wrong someone the Torah in Leviticus 1:1-7 gives us an outline of what to do and how to do it saying,
And the LORD said to Moses, “If someone sins and thus acts unfaithfully against the LORD by deceiving his neighbor in regard to a deposit or security entrusted to him or stolen, or if he extorts his neighbor or finds lost property and lies about it and swears falsely, or if he commits any such sin that a man might commit— once he has sinned and becomes guilty, he must make things right by returning what he has stolen or taken by extortion (even taking someone’s honor through gossip applies here), or the deposit entrusted to him, or the lost property he found, or anything else about which he has sworn falsely… He must make restitution in full, plus add a fifth (20% more) of the value, and pay it to the owner on the day he acknowledges his guilt. Then he must give an offering to the priest (or their spiritual leader)… and in this way the priest will make atonement for him before the LORD, and he will be forgiven for anything he may have done to incur guilt.”
So the model here is:
- Try not to wrong anyone, but if you do
- Go immediately (or as soon as possible) to them to confess and
- Reconcile the relationship by asking for forgiveness, and
- Make restitution in full + 20%, and
- Give an offering to a Spiritual leader to make atonement on your behalf to God
- Then, you will be forgiven!
Even if we have done no wrong but someone has wronged us, we are encouraged to go to them personally and privately and give them an opportunity to confess and reconcile with you. Matthew 18:15 says,
If another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the offense. If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back.”
and Proverbs 25: 9 says to “Present your case with your neighbor [alone] without betraying another’s confidence” (which going and telling a priest would betray). Furthermore, Rabbi Shaul further says in Galatians 6:1, “Brothers, if someone is caught in a trespass, you who are spiritual should restore him with a spirit of gentleness”
Thus if someone has wronged us we are told by scripture to:
- Go to them privately and give them an opportunity to acknowledge their wrong to you
- Do not tell others about the wrong they have done (that is called betraying their confidence in Proverbs 25: 9)
- Try to restore the relationship with them in a spirit of gentleness
Notice that non of the above confessions involve confessing to a Priest instead of the person you have wronged but the Scriptures simply promotes confession in the Spirit of loving reconciliation between two people. If your sin is again God or your body or someone impossible to reach, go directly to God as we are encouraged by Scripture with the promise that He is faithful to forgive you!
We hope this above outline on the proper protocol for confession and forgiveness helps and brings you peace and a plan for how to operate according to God’s word. Wishing you Heavenly Father’s Love and blessings in His amazing Forgiveness!
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Torah Parashah teaching with video and audio and illustrations by Rabbi Isaac. © 2023 Assembly of Called-Out Believers. Use by Permission.