“‘If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.’” (John 20:23)
How often what you gone to confession? Not many Lutherans do these days. It’s seen as too Roman Catholic. But in reality it is a great blessing to have the chance to confess our sins to God. Dr. Luther in his Small Catechism explains that confession is not what we typically think it is. It is a myth to think that we are better off hiding our sins. Confessing our sins is a true blessing because in our confession of sins we receive absolution. Absolution is the spoken word that Jesus Christ truly died for our sins. This word of the Gospel is extremely comforting to us because we are reminded again and again that our sins have been taken away from us and placed on Jesus. In Confession we are taken back to our baptism. Baptism and Confession go hand in hand; they complement each other.
What sins should we confess? Well, in a fraternity house, it’s not hard to find some. In my experience there are always ill words coming from brother to brother during Finals Week. So when working through confession and absolution, the one confessing the sin ought to say exactly what the sin was and why it was being confessed in the first place. Your Pastor, who hears the confession because of Christ, will then forgive the sin.
So what should we do when we see a sin being committed? Should we just sit by and say nothing? Of course not! We should call sin exactly what it is: sin. But instead of going after the sin, we want to judge the person who committed the act. We like to build ourselves up and break down the “sinner.” We notice the speck in brother’s eye, but we can’t see that we have a log in our own eye (Luke 6:41-42). If we want to be genuine and helpful to our brothers, we should come and confess our sins to one another so that our sins are completely brought to the light of Christ. For in Christ our sins are removed from us as far as east is from west.
When we confess our sins to one another, we are like the Apostle John says, walking “in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. (1 John 1:7)” And that is what confession is all about. It’s about receiving forgiveness. That is what God wants to give us. He wants us to receive the Gospel of Christ, who was crucified for you on the cross to atone for your sins. He wants to you to forgive one another because Christ first forgave you.
We get to hear the word of forgiveness each time we step into church. There the pastor speaks in behalf of God. God has given him the special office of pastor to preach, teach, and administer the forgiveness of sins to us who need to be forgiven. Jesus gave His disciples the office of forgiving sins, and still today our pastors hold that same office. The word of forgiveness that they give is not their own, but truly God’s efficacious Word.