I am going to try thru the guidance of God’s Holy Spirit to give an understanding to a piece of Holy Scripture from The Holy Bible that may have some of us a little confused, and in the case of Roman Catholics, a whole lot confused.
I’m talking about JOHN:20:22-23:
"And when he had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, Receive The Holy Spirit, If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them, if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained."
Truly as apostles, they were granted special abilities from God through Jesus, but does this extend down to the modern-day disciple/apostle?
Under Judaic Levitical Law, a transgressor would go to the priest or high priest, with an animal to be offered up as a burnt offering in atonement for their sins.
Before Jesus began his ministry, John the Baptist was baptising at the Jordan and teaching repentance for sin, but, during this time, man still retained his sin for Jesus had not as yet been crucified for the remission of sin. Yet still the baptism offered a symbolic cleansing, which in a way helped those baptized to maybe feel better about themselves.
During Jesus Ministry Jesus is always teaching repentance and forgiveness of sin. He forgave sin so often infront of the Pharisees and priests, that more than once they sought to stone him and finally sought his crucifixion claiming Jesus guilty of Blasphemy and for calling himself the Son of God. In the Hebrew faith, only God could forgive sin.
Through JOHN:3:16-18 we know that our salvation from sin comes to us through Jesus, and through His crucifixion, and through our belief through faith in that selfless act.
So what is the lesson that Jesus is trying to teach us through the scripture in JOHN:20?
If only Jesus has the power to forgive sin, what could Jesus mean by this scripture. Well the answer to this is relatively simple to grasp if we stop for a moment and think about it.
Jesus is the only one who can remove the stain of sinfulness from our spirit, but infact we all have the power and the right to forgive sin. No, I’m not crazy, nor am I blaspheming.
As an example: If I get angry and sin against my wife, or, if she gets angry and sins against me, either has the power to forgive the other for their transgression.
If I snack on some produce in the grocery store while shopping, and then confess to the store cashier that I did so, I can be instantly forgiven by the employee or forced to make restitution and then forgiven my transgression.
Forgiveness, must begin with confession, followed by repentance, and if necessary restitution.
Only after this, do we have the right to approach Jesus for His forgiveness.
If we do not show a true sincere remorse,in our repentance, and if when necessary make restitution, then our confession is not sincere and Jesus need not forgive right away.
This is why we see the second half of that scripture. If repentance is not sincere, if restitution, if required is not made then the confession is invalidated and Jesus must with-hold his forgiveness temporarily.
In other words the apostles were to ensure that restitution was complete before granting forgiveness to the sinner.
Does this mean that we might lose our salvation? If our salvation is granted through our declaration of our faith in Christ Jesus and his crucifixion for the remission of our sins the answer is no, so long as we make full restitution for our sin.
I remember when I was about 10 years old, I went into the neighborhood store and stole a candy bar. I took it home, that was my second mistake, and my dad caught me eating it. Dad knew I had no money to buy it, so when he asked me how I got it, I had to tell him. Lying to dad was not an option.
My dad marched me up to the store and to the store manager and I confessed. My dad paid for the candy and its cost was deducted from my allowance for that week, plus I got a spanking when I got home. My dad forgave me, the store forgave me, restitution was made and I was forgiven then by Jesus too.
The Roman Catholic though see this piece of scripture and twist it to suit their own agenda to lend credence to their priests being the only ones under Catholic dogmatic teachings to listen to a person’s confession of their sin, and then through, themselves as the priest to absolve the person of their sin and forgive their sin.
How the Roman Catholic Church manage to distort the scripture inorder to create confession is beyond me but then there are a lot of things this church has instituted, in their dogmatic teachings and precepts that are so far fetched, they make no sense at all.
In conclusion: Confession of one’s sins as a "Christian" is solely between one’s self and Jesus for only Jesus, has the power to totally forgive us our sins and purify us from them.
Indeed our salvation is established once for all time, the moment we invite and welcome Jesus into our lives acknowledging Jesus as our redeemer through his sacrificial crucifixion for our sins, but, while we live, we do not stop sinning, so we must ask Jesus forgiveness and apologize to Jesus daily for sinning.
True forgiveness from Jesus cannot be attained or obtained by saying Jesus I sinned, and, Jesus please forgive me. True Repentance and restitution are definitely a pre-requisite to forgiveness, without them, how can Jesus forgive us?
Here is another question about confessing to a priest.
Why does a priest, under the laws of the land, not become charged as an accessory after the fact if someone confesses something like murder to them.