Jn.20:23, “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”
This verse is wrongly interpreted by people who claim that confessing to a priest is biblical. Let me start this by saying that there is no sinner whom God cannot redeem and there is no saint who does not need salvation. All have sinned and fallen short from the glory of God. This statement is pretty powerful and more than enough to nullify the practice of confessing to a priest or any saint. It was our iniquity that separated us from our Lord. To heal this marred relationship, God sent His only begotten Son. If priests could forgive the sins, then God did not have the need to send His Son. He could have given authority to the priests or so called saints to forgive sins. But since all have sinned and fallen short from the glory of God, the Word Himself incarnated in the likeness of sinful flesh, dwelt among us, laid his life for us and drew all mankind to Himself by his sacrificial death on the cross…God has not given authority to any priest or saint to forgive the sins. Through one man’s disobedience, many were sinners. Likewise, by one man’s obedience, many will be made righteous. God gave no one the authority to do the advocacy or act like a mediator with the Father. A mediator must have at least two qualities:
• He must be God – How can a sinful man mediate for the sinful men with the sinless God? A mediator should represent both sides equally. Jesus was fully God. He was fully holy. Hence He represents God rightly. At the same time, He was fully man. He faced sin like any other man, thereby representing mankind rightly.
• He must have complete knowledge about God and complete knowledge about men– Can you show me any one person other than Jesus who has this knowledge? Jesus was fully God and fully man. Can you show me anyone else with this character? Bible says in 1 Timothy 2:5, ‘For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.’ Can any tradition deny this word? If I have pure milk in a cup and I drop a small amount of poison in it…then it is no more pure, it is poison. A truth with small amount of tradition and men’s law is not truth at all. It is a lie.
When the Son of Man cried “It is finished” on the cross, it was the most painful moment in the scorching heat of the sun. The wrath of God towards men was finished, destroying the barrier and dividing the wall of hostility between God and man. Through Him, we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. Through Jesus, we received the medicine for our salvation, just like the children of Israel received life when they looked upon the Moses’s raised brass serpent. Anyone who looks upon Jesus will be healed from the poison of sin, just as the Israelites were healed from the poison of the serpent when they looked upon the risen brass serpent.
Plain reading of this verse sounds to mean that the apostles have the power to forgive the sins of people. But the truth is that no one other than Jesus Himself has the authority to forgive the sins. In this passage, Jesus is sending out the apostles with the mission of carrying the gospel to the ends of the world. In other words, God gave us the authority to carry the medicine of sin but forgiveness is His part. By this particular verse, Jesus meant to say that if they did not carry the gospel to the other parts of the world, people in those parts will not be able to receive forgiveness for their sins. For instance, if the Apostle is not going to India, people of India will not hear the good news and so their sins are not forgiven…God will not send His Son again to the world, but He has given us, who are brought by His precious blood. the great mission to carry the good news which cause forgiveness of sins. It is our responsibility to give others the gospel message, the medicine through which alone any man receives forgiveness. But in case, even after sharing the gospel, the person does not receive the message in faith, then it is not the responsibility of the servant of God for his or her being unforgiven.
I would like to show one person from the Bible who chose to confess before the priests. Judas Iscariot- With a repentant heart, Judas approached the priests and elders but what did they reply to this helpless Judas? Mathew 27:4 (Judas) I have sinned, “he said. “For I have betrayed innocent blood.” “What is that to us?” they replied. “That‘s your responsibility.” Did the priest give him the solution for his sinfulness? No! They could not. Then why do some approach the Modern Day priests and confess their sins to them? Confessing your sins to a priest will not work! Did God give authority to anyone to blot out transgressions? There is only one Name given among men to do that and His name is Jesus.
Roman Catholic Church believes that Peter was the first pope. Let’s see what this first pope did for his confession part and what he wanted to say to each of us.Acts of Apostles 8: 18-23, ‘ When Simon saw that the Spirit was given at the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money and said, “Give me also this ability so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” Peter answered: “May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money! You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God. Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord ,hope that he may forgive you for having such a thought in your heart. For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin.”
One man was caught red handed by Peter, but did that man confess his sin to Peter (the first pope)? What did Peter say to him? Repent of the wickedness and pray to the Lord…Did Peter ask him to confess to him? If the first pope did not say that, then why do the other popes claim this? And the most important thing…mark the words of Peter. He said…”the Lord may forgive you for having such a thought in your heart”….This means that even Peter did not know if the Lord would forgive this man’s sin….If the first pope did not know whether the sins would be forgiven or not, then how come that the modern day priests and popes determine the forgiveness of sins …dear friends, forgiving sins is in the hands of the Son.
What does the church and tradition teaches that is not important at all in the sight of the Lord and God has a zero values of it…No one can add to or Take away from God’s word. What does the Bible teaches about confession?
Hebrew 10:19-21 Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water
Many are ignorant about the truth of what they actually received after the sacrificial death of Jesus. This verse is more than enough to know what exactly we received.
• We received Confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus – In Old Testament only the High Priest could enter the Most Holy Place but when Jesus cried ” It is finished” the curtain of the temple was torn from top to bottom, the curtain that was hindering us to enter the Most Holy place was torned after the sacrificial death of Christ Jesus, thereby now we dont need any mediators like priest, pastors, mother, brothers or sisters to hear our prayer but now we can call HIM ” Our Heavenly Father “.
• We received a New and Living way through the curtain, that is, His body – Like the curtain was torn from top to bottom, the body of Christ Jesus was torn from top to bottom. He gave his last drop of blood to all mankind and if anyone believe this and accept Jesus as their personal savior, they receive a New and Living way. The wages of sin is death but gift of God through Jesus Christ is eternal life. Indeed 2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!
So Paul concludes this verse by saying ” let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings” Word of God cleary says to draw near to God and not to any men!Remember, that when we approach priest or any saint for confession, we are denying the truth that Jesus died for us,. Through His death, we received the access to God…Let us approach Him who alone is righteous and who alone is able to make us righteous.
If we draw near to Men, We draw away from God !! …Simple but powerful
God bless you!