Why Confess Your Sins to a Priest
Based on the Realities of God’s Church, the Holy Bible and Sacred Tradition
It is an Absolute Necessity to Confess Mortal Sins to a Priest
Many people simply don’t understand why they need to confess their sins to a priest when they can go straight to God. Yet, as Catholics we firmly believe that we should confess our sins to a priest. So are all Catholics just plain crazy, or is it possible there’s more to “confessing to a priest” than some might understand? The Catholic Church isn’t trying to imply you shouldn’t go to God to ask forgiveness of your sins—we do that exact thing during every Mass (church service) we celebrate, as well as in private prayer. Yet, in addition to this, there’s a very real reason why we find it necessary to go to confession too.
Must be Actually Sorry for Sins to be Forgiven
Confession is where God himself, working through the priest, forgives someone’s sins if they hate all of their sins, truly desire to not commit them again and are doing something to avoid repeating them (Catechism Catholic Church #1451) — possess actual sorrow for them. Without truly being sorry for one’s offenses against God, Confession will serve no benefit since no forgiveness will be given. And God who reads the minds and probes the heart knows if someone is actually sorry or not. Professing words of “sorrow” but having no actual sorrow in their heart is simply a lie and nobody can lie to God and expect to be forgiven. But if actual sorrow is present for all of someone’s sins, they will leave confession perfectly pure (forgiven), receive bounds of grace (help from God) to avoid further sin and help to live a life of joy. Confession is another sign of God’s great mercy.
Jesus Instituted Confession to Priests for Forgiveness of Sins
Jesus Himself instituted the sacrament of reconciliation (confession) for the forgiveness of our sins, and handed down this authority to His apostles—the first priests—as is written in the Bible and taught throughout sacred tradition from the first disciples up until today. Therefore, we as Catholics trust that if God says we should go to a priest to confess our sins so that God can grant us forgiveness, then we should listen. The concept of confessing to a priest may be hard for a non-Catholic to understand, but I will explain.
The Bible Confirms the Teachings of the Catholic Church
I will show you the exact Bible verses in which God specifically gives His priests the authority to forgive sins, and show you Biblically why it’s vital to confess all “mortal sins” to a priest after one has been baptized, in order to be assured of salvation.
The Catholic Church is the Only Church Jesus Founded
The Catholic Church is the one and only Church founded by Jesus. It’s true. Find a good book on the history of Christianity and read about it. Also, google “who founded the Catholic Church,” and select a reputable website on the subject; you’ll see that this is fact, not opinion. If you’re not of the Catholic faith, look for a no-bias website regarding who founded your faith and you’ll find that it wasn’t Jesus. Jesus only founded the Catholic Church. There were no other churches founded by Our Lord. This is an historical fact.
Division in God’s Church
In 1517, Martin Luther (not Martin Luther King)—being tricked by the evil one into thinking he knew the way to eternal life better than the Church Jesus founded, broke away from the Catholic Church and began the first Protestant church, which He named after himself, The Lutheran Church, leading many souls away from the true teachings of the faith. Sadly, Satan blinded him to the truth so instead of Martin Luther praying, staying obedient, relenting his will to God’s will and working within the Church to make it better, he created division in the Christian faith by recruiting others to join him in pulling away from the Church—the Church that Jesus Himself instituted. What great anger must’ve stirred in God when Martin Luther brought on the major destruction of unity in His Church, leading so many people away from the truth!
If you are already aware of all this and understand it fully and simply wish to read about why we NEED to confess all of our mortal sins to a priest to be assured of salvation, then please scroll down a bit.
One Man Broke the Unity of God’s Church
Unity in the Church is very important to Christ as He spoke about it many times in the Word. Like any marriage someone joins Christ for better or for worse and the Church isn’t perfect since it is run by imperfect people. However, the official teachings of salvation have never changed from the instruction of Christ through the apostles. Even in difficult times, nobody should pack up and leave Christ’s Church when they aren’t fully satisfied or pleased with what any individual members doings, which is essentially just what Martin Luther did. We are called to be loving, patient and tolerant of imperfections, working together to better one another through prayer, humility, sacrifice and love when members of the Church fall away from living the true faith. Instead of doing that, this one man divorced himself from the Church and created his own church, which was the beginning of the end of Christian unity. Shockingly, as a result of this one mans wrongful choice others decided to follow His sinful example and over the past 500 years there has been a boom of “new” faiths. There isn’t just the Catholic Church; there isn’t only one Christian faith, but rather over 41,000 different faiths–“truths.” But really we know there is only one Way. And Christ told it to His apostles which taught and led it to the Catholic Church.
Sin of Pride Starts New Faith
Martin Luther was so sure of himself, through his sin of pride—which has been the downfall of many great men—that he was even willing to reject some of the very teachings passed down from the apostles. Through his spiritual blindness, he even thought it would be best to remove some of the most important principles (sacraments) of the Church, which are needed for salvation, and create a church based on his own beliefs while pulling others away from the truth in order to follow him. What a horrible consequence of one’s root sin of pride! The consequences of his actions were devastating, as the fullness of faith was lost for so many through that sin.This is what we’ve allowed Satan to do.
Very Wrong Things Seem Good
It’s more than likely that Martin Luther had no malicious intentions whatsoever, and probably really believed what he was doing was good. Most people do want to do good. However, when people are suffering from the effects of sin, or are in a state of mortal sin, they lose God’s graces—one of which is the ability to know right from wrong—so they end up doing bad things which they believe are, in fact, good things. Take abortion for example; how many people truly feel it’s an acceptable choice to take the life of an unborn child rather than to let it live. Yet, those who have God’s grace can easily see how murdering these innocent unborn children is grievously sinful. How very convincing Satan can be to the spiritually blind. If grace is lacking, Satan can cause us to justify almost anything in our minds as being good. Thinking that truly bad, sinful things are actually good acceptable things is a very scary state for a soul to be in. The most horrible part of all is someone doesn’t even know they’re suffering from this spiritual illness, yet it’s destroying their soul. It can become so bad that it’s like an unknown cancer bringing them to their eternal doom. (See how to cure spiritual blindness.)
Many Many Churches are Missing the Fullness of the Faith
So many people—all with good but tainted intentions—who think they know the truth and are doing the right thing have started up their own churches. Church after church after church—all with different “truths”—wanting to bring people to Jesus (which they do to a certain degree, since Jesus loves everyone and helps all who ask), but they are missing the fullness of the faith. They’re missing the same teachings that were handed down from Jesus to Peter (the first pope) and the apostles, which is the true faith practiced today only in the Catholic Church. They are missing what is needed for salvation. The Catholic Church is where you can find the complete faith, where nothing has been removed or altered. The Church possesses all of the sacraments instituted by Jesus (such as the Holy Eucharist, in which Jesus is truly present—body, blood, soul and divinity—in Communion; the sacrament of reconciliation (confession) for the forgiveness of all sins; the leadership of the pope—the successor of the apostle Peter, our first pope; as well as all the Church’s teachings passed down from sacred tradition. All of which are essential to bringing and keeping God’s children on the path of righteousness.
Jesus Loves Everyone No Matter What Church They Belong To
As I said, Jesus still loves those outside of His Church, as He died for everyone. He truly, deeply loves everyone; He is always there for anyone who seeks Him and is a miraculous healer of both Catholics and non-Catholics alike—no matter which church they belong to or what sins they commit. He sends His Spirit to guide, correct and love everyone. Our most loving Lord will not deny anyone who calls out to Him. He’s always pining for us, helping us and showing us the consequences of our actions in our daily lives, and calling us to the truth so we can go on to spend all of eternity with Him in Heaven. Many people who belong to other Christian churches have been quite blessed with the Holy Spirit’s help, and are doing wonderful works for God, yet for some reason they still haven’t had ears to hear the fullness of the truth about the Catholic Church. Many people mistakenly believe that Jesus actually founded their church, or think that their faith is actually the true faith set forth by Jesus. This is because they are unaware of the actual history of Christianity which was established through the Catholic Church.
Wrongful Teaching about the Catholic Church
Much of the time when people have wrong information about the Catholic Church it’s through no fault of their own. They’ve simply never been taught the truth about the Church, or they’ve been gravely misinformed about it. Perhaps they knew someone who was Catholic—in name only—who gave a bad example of the faith. Or they listened to someone who felt spurned by the Church and thought it necessary to use a sinful, malicious tongue to deface God’s Church. Or maybe the Catholics they knew kept silent about the truth and beauty of the faith, never proclaiming the Gospel—which they have a duty to do—resulting in these people never having a chance to hear the truth and convert or even seeing a reason they should do so. It could be any of these things, or even something else entirely that kept them from knowing the truth. Who knows.
Satan Will Persecute Jesus’ Church
There are numerous ways in which Satan has blinded and confused Christians into following a church other than the one Jesus founded. Incredibly, some people have even been falsely led to believe that Catholics are not Christians, when in reality Catholics were the first Christians, and remain the only Christians who abide by the authoritative teachings of Jesus handed down to His apostles. What has Satan done to confuse so many? It’s horrible. However, Catholics expect this as the Bible says God Church will be persecuted. Even with Satan’s relentless tactics, the Church has a wonderful RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults) program, which educates and welcomes countless new members into the Church every year.
Humble Yourself and Follow Jesus’ Church- The Catholic Church
For this reason, if someone doesn’t understand why Catholics believe what they believe, or they don’t believe in something the Catholic Church teaches—such as confessing to a priest—then they need to let go of their pride and humble themselves, realizing God doesn’t enlighten everyone to everything (it would be ridiculous and arrogant to think we knew it all), and to trust in Jesus’ Church to guide them to the Lord, as that is why God established His Church here on Earth—to guide us to Heaven. God doesn’t want us to create our own faith, based upon what we think is the truth. That is dangerous and could lead to our eternal doom.
Apostle Peter, First Pope
God already established His Church for us through the rock—Peter, the first pope. “And I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18). Even though Peter sinned greatly by denying Our Lord three times, Jesus still used His sinful, yet chosen apostle, to establish His Holy Catholic Church to guide everyone to God.
God Established One Church the Holy Catholic Church to Guide Everyone to Heaven
All of us should believe based on faith and not on our own logic or reasoning, since our understanding may very well be tainted from sin. A better, clearer knowledge of truth, understanding of the faith and belief in Jesus’ teachings—through logic and reasoning—will come in time through the graces one is given by God. All we need to do is simply trust in Him and the Church He established to guide us to the Kingdom. If things don’t make sense, they will in time through patience, prayer and God’s abundant graces.
Don’t Believe Everyone Who Says They are “Catholic”
Of course one should not believe every “opinion” of every “Catholic,” or the opinions of people who aren’t Catholic who claim they “know” the teachings of the Church. Some Catholics don’t even practice their faith, and know almost nothing about what the Church teaches as their sins have led them into darkness. Even faithful Catholics—whether priests or parishioners—can fall short of the truth. To a certain degree they can become blinded to the truth just like anyone else. If someone in the Catholic Church says something that doesn’t seem right, or a person just wants to make sure that something is the “real” teaching of the Church, all they need do is look it up for themselves in the Catechism of the Catholic Church—the Church Jesus established here on Earth. No one should belong to a church based on the beliefs or ideas of any one fallible human being. We belong to the Catholic Church and worship Jesus based on the full teachings passed down from Jesus to His apostles, which is the doctrine of the Catholic Church—not the personal views from any one individual.
Don’t Abandon The True Faith to Follow Your Own Faith
Satan is cunning, and will use anything and everything he can to snag souls and confuse people—one must always be on their guard against this. Putting disbelief into people’s minds about any of the Church’s teachings is one of his tricks, and one must repent when such thoughts enter their mind. One’s limited knowledge and arrogance must never allow anyone to abandon the true faith and follow one’s “own faith,” with their own understandings—or misunderstandings—of God’s law. Rather, people need to humble themselves and realize that on their own they have very limited knowledge of God’s mysteries, and that they simply must let go of their opinions and follow the teachings of the Holy Catholic Church, since it was—and is—inspired by the Holy Spirit, with perfect obedience to the truth, whether they fully understand those truths or not.
Only The Humble Will Know God
The reason God instituted His Church was to lead people to Heaven, but it will only happen for those who are humble enough of heart to surrender their ways unto God’s ways.
Why Someone MUST Confess their Sins
to a Priest to be Assured of Salvation
Confession Restores Sanctifying Grace
The Catholic Church—the only Church Jesus founded—which worships Jesus based on the full teachings passed down from Jesus to His apostles, teaches that one NEEDS to confess all mortal sins—which are what God considers serious, deadly sins that remove sanctifying grace (the grace one needs to be saved, which is received during baptism)—to His priests, so that anyone with true sorrow for their sins can be in union with Jesus and His Church and have the gift of salvation restored once again by the power of the Holy Spirit that pours forth from the priests blessed hands in confession (see below cf. John 20:22-23).
This is HUGE!
Only souls that are reconciled will be saved through faith, by grace—sanctifying grace—which is given through the waters of baptism by the merits of Jesus. Good works will not save anyone, even if you consider yourself to be a really “good guy” (cf. Ephesians 2:8). (Also see I don’t sin.) “Good guys” don’t go to Heaven when they haven’t been forgiven of their sins. If there is no reconciliation then there is no salvation.
Sanctifying Grace is Restored in Confession
When sanctifying grace is lost, through choosing to commit mortal sin, it is restored by God’s Holy Spirit in the sacrament of reconciliation (confession) or through perfect sorrow, which is something that most people don’t possess.* That is why the Bible says not to confess mortal sins (deadly sin) straight to God since the risk of not being forgiven, due to lack of perfect contrition, is GREAT (see below cf. 1 John 5:16). Nobody should risk their eternity by hoping they’re perfectly sorry, when God has given His priests the power to bind or loose all sins for those who have actual sorrow, to be assured of salvation. What a loving God we have!
There is Nothing More Important Than Confession
I cannot come up with adequate words to impress the absolute necessity of the sacrament of penance (confession). Souls need sanctifying grace so as to not be deserving of Hell when they die, and actual grace (help from God) to avoid the very sins that are destroying their daily lives. All these graces come from the Holy Spirit, through the priest, in confession for those who possess sorrow for their offenses against God. Confession is the sole ordinary means to restore someone’s relationship with Christ (by regaining sanctifying grace) for the gift of salvation to be theirs. What a glorious gift from God!
Feeling God’s Love Doesn’t Guarantee Salvation
Some people spend their entire life trying to know, love and serve God which is wonderful and God loves them perfectly even if they still are not in the state of grace (saved), searching, and still stuck in their sinful ways.
It’s breathtaking to think about all the astounding ways Our Lord touches people’s lives to bring them closer to Himself, even when they’re far removed from Him. People have to be careful that they don’t mistake the love they feel from God as His approval of their sinful lifestyles, since God loves the saved and unsaved alike. As Jesus puts it, “[God] makes his sun rise on the bad and the good” (Matthwe 5:45).
It is true that those in a state of grace have a deeper, more fulfilling relationship with Our Lord, but that doesn’t mean people who are outside this state never have any experiences or encounters with God’s love. Every person outside the state of grace isn’t necessarily surge at the brim with rage and hatred; granted, some of them are, in which case they really would most likely not feel God’s love at all. It is true some people are like that and they have almost no grace of any kind sanctifying or actual grace (God’s help) as a consequence of their sins and are horribly suffering, but most people who are spiritually dead from their sins simply live in denial of their wrongdoing and feel there is no need to change since their life is fine enough (they are getting their joy from worldly pleasures). For this reason, it can actually be helpful when a person has immediate negative consequences from their sins, so that they can become enlightened to the truth about their evil actions; but since this isn’t always the case, some people might continue committing the same sins over and over again without thinking about the long-term repercussions of their actions.
Whatever their circumstances or level of understanding, God continues to love each and every person, calling them to the truth—both about themselves and about Him. God sees their efforts (or lack thereof), and gives them graces known as “actual graces” to help them toward Himself through Jesus, “the way and the truth and the life” (Jn 14:6).
Even those who aren’t looking for the truth, God still longs for them and sends His actual grace to nudge them towards salvation. Since these graces can be given while a person is still in the process of being saved, they show that—through them—a person can feel God’s love without being saved. God might allow this to reward the person for following His Word in some instance, to guide them toward the correct path, or some combination thereof. Either way, simply feeling God’s love is not a guarantee of salvation; for salvation is a much more than an feeling. Rather than just feeling that one is saved, one should be able to have genuine assurance of salvation.
This assurance can only come from living out the teachings of the Church God Himself established—the Catholic Church. Therefore, knowing God and His abundant love doesn’t mean someone is saved. It means someone can feel God’s love for them.
God is Calling You To His Church – The Catholic Church
No matter where someone is in their spiritual journey, whether they’ve found that narrow pathway to Heaven or not (cf. Matthew 7:13-14), up until the hour of someone’s death, God is trying to direct His children to salvation which is found through true repentance (confession) and the true faith that He established (the Catholic Church) so Our Lord can deliver the fullness of grace into their souls for an eternity of joy. If someone isn’t striving to constantly grow closer to Our Lord then something is terribly wrong.
The Catholic Church Has All of the Sacraments Needed for Salvation
God wants everyone to be members of the only Church He established—The Catholic Church—which possesses the fullness of the faith (where nothing has been removed or altered), and can restore sanctifying grace to everyone’s soul who has fallen out of grace and deliver all of His blessings to His faithful servants. The Catholic Church brings God’s children all of the sacraments and teachings Jesus administered to the apostles, in order to greatly bless all of our lives. For people already Catholic, Our Lord draws them more deeply into the faith, calling them to know Him in a more personal, intimate way through the sacraments.
Living in a state of death isn’t living at all and it’s a horrible way to exist. So many are suffering from their sins yet never repent or change their ways. Then there are others who are so busy filling their lives with worldly pleasures—in a futile search for joy—they don’t even realize they are spiritually dead (deserving of Hell) because their sins are blinding them to the truth. The sacrament of reconciliation is life-saving for those living without sanctifying grace, which tragically is most likely the state the majority of God’s children are in (see the list of mortal sins in the Bible; if you willingly commit any of these and do not repent you will not inherit eternal life). There’s a reason the Bible states that “few” will find the pathway to Heaven.
Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. –Matthew 7:13-14
God’s Mercy is Crying Out for His Children To Repent in Confession
Living in union with God brings true joy, and so He does not wish for anyone to live outside of that union. His mercy is crying out for us in the sacrament of reconciliation (confession). The more sinful someone is the greater God’s mercy is waiting to pour out into the sorrowful soul. God desires to perfectly forgive all of us of all of our sins, and shower us with joy and blessings when we have sorrow for offending Him and work hard to sin no more. All we have to do is confess our sins to the priest—with a truly sorrowful heart, to the best of our ability—and we are completely forgiven by God for all of our sins through confession—guaranteed! (See how to go to confession).
Experience the Life God Wants for You by Eradicating Your Sins
For some people, the only thing they know of Jesus is just a small amount of His love because that’s all they’ve allowed into their souls. Their sins have pushed away so much of what God wishes for them. The life they should be experiencing on Earth, and an eternity of bliss with Jesus in Heaven, is lost without sanctifying grace. Even the loss of actual grace (help from God) that’s delivered through the sacrament of reconciliation (confession) is enough to greatly reduce someone’s closeness with Our Lord, making confession a necessity for all of us who have mortal and venial sins on our souls.
There is NO ASSURANCE of Salvation Outside of Confession to a Priest
Since we can never be sure we possess perfect contrition (perfect sorrow) so as to be forgiven of our mortal sins by confessing directly to God, and nobody will ever really know all of the mortal sins they’ve committed—especially those sins we’ve convinced ourselves are no big deal, even though God finds them incredibly offensive—we must confess our sins to a priest in the sacrament of reconciliation in order to be assured of forgiveness. Only God TRULY knows the state of our sorrow and our soul, and through the Holy Spirit God grants the confessor (the priest) the power to forgive all sins—even those we aren’t aware of—as long as we have actual sorrow for them. Confession is the only true assurance for the salvation of souls.
Satan Wants Nobody to Repent so Everyone Will Belong to Him
Of course Satan doesn’t want anyone to believe in this truth, so that he can have all the unreconciled souls for his own—which is exactly what happened. That’s why reconciliation—the way to salvation—was one of the first things that Satan removed from Jesus’ Church. Today, the Catholic Church is the only church that practices the actual sacrament of reconciliation (confession) to rescue souls who would otherwise be bound for eternal misery, and to bring amazing grace to everyone who frequents the sacrament.
What About Those Who Have Died With Unconfessed Serious Sins?
Many people are concerned about loved ones who have died without having received forgiveness through the sacrament of confession. The eternal fate of some of these people is certainly worth being concerned about. Judgment is real. All might be lost. But we simply don’t know for sure. As the Church teaches, “although we can judge that an act is in itself a grave offense, we must entrust judgment of persons to the justice and mercy of God” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, #1861). There might be a possibility of salvation for them through God’s great mercy which is endless (cf. Divine Mercy) and is far greater than His just justice and punishments. “Mercy triumphs over judgment”(James 2:13).
Consider a person who prays constantly for a family member, and the relative eventually dies seemingly unreconciled with God. It is possible that, on account of the person’s relentless prayers (cf. Luke 11:5-8), our merciful Lord sent their relative enough grace around the time of their death to allow them to attain perfect contrition [NOTE: I would link this to a definition of perfect contrition] for their sins. This would enable the relative to squeeze into Purgatory, as God’s last gift of mercy, for the eventual reward of eternal life.
Therefore, to be certain your sick or at risk of death friend or relative is reconciled with God before their death, if they are willing, call a priest to hear their confession as an assurance of the grace needed in case there was mortal sin on their soul.
What About the People Who Have Died Without Ever Having Known Jesus
Concerning those people today who have never encountered Jesus, Christians need to keep in mind how much of a part they might play in these non-Christians’ eternal livelihood. It’s difficult, if not impossible, to know for sure just how much damage the Christians’ sins of not proclaiming the Good News of Christ (as all Christians have been instructed to do—see Mk 16:15) will do to these other people’s hopes for heaven. We don’t know if we’re going to have a part in the damnation of souls who were meant to hear the Good News, but did not because we refused to proclaim it.
Plus, we do know ancestral sins (ex: not teaching the true faith, encouraging sinful behavior, etc.) and how in the New Testament, the prophets who were killed, the punishment went to the whole generation, not just those who did the killing (cf. Matthew 23:29-36) and in the old testament Exodus: 20:5, 6 says, “…I the Lord your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity [sins] of parents, to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me, but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments.” and even the sin of Adam and Eve have had great consequences on all of mankind.
One thing we know for a face, our sins hurt not only ourselves, but others as well. This is why it’s vitally important for us to share the Gospel with those around us. But thankfully, while “God has bound salvation to the sacrament of Baptism,” “he himself is not bound by his sacraments” (CCC, #1257). This means that, through His incredible mercy, perhaps God will not find those who never heard the Gospel guilty due to our neglect, and will somehow still have mercy on them and allow them to be saved.
Therefore, we need to pray for that same mercy and forgiveness that comes from confession to be given to those who do not know the Lord.
What is the Harm in Confessing to a Priest?
What is the harm in frequenting confession (asking God for forgiveness through the priest)? Nothing. Yet, the possible consequences for negating it are devastating for both today and all of eternity. God’s generous love, mercy and help is waiting for everyone in the sacrament of reconciliation.
Is This Difficult?
Is confession a difficult practice? Sometimes, but this humbling experience is exactly what God asks of His children. “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6). The more humbling experiences we can have the better we will know God’s will for our lives.
Catholics who frequent confession love God so much they are willing to sometimes suffer humiliation (on occasion our sins, in all honesty, can be quite embarrassing) and fear (sometimes the confessor can be less than perfect -they are human) for the love of God and await the forgiveness He promises from His most merciful heart through the sacrament of reconciliation by the power He has given to His chosen priests. We are willing to carry that cross for the Love of Christ. Confession brings about the grace needed for salvation.
- Did you know that the Catholic Church compiled the written words of the Bible? However, many of the books of the Bible were removed by some who thought they knew better, leaving so many to miss out on the fullness of the Bible.
Do What the Bible Says
The following Bible verses show us when God gave authority and power to priests to forgive sins in confession, and how it’s necessary for all mortal sins a person commits—after they’ve been baptized—to be forgiven through a priest in confession.
— “After Jesus’ resurrection He said to His apostles, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, [during confession] they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained’” (John 20: 22-23).
— In 1 John 5:16, John clarifies the NEED to confess all mortal sins to a priest for the Holy Spirit to cleanse the soul by saying, “If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death [venial sin], he shall ask [pray] and God will for him give life [forgiveness] to those who commit sin not leading to death. There is a sin leading to death [mortal sin which leads to hell]; I do not say that he should make request for this [don’t pray straight to God, go to a priest for confession to be assured of forgiveness].”
–Paul in Ephesians 5:3-6 address the Christians by saying, “But immorality and all impurity or covetousness [love things of this world] must not even be named among you, as is fitting among saints [one must be holy]. Let there be no filthiness [moral impurity], nor levity [inappropriate humor], which are not fitting; but instead let there be thanksgiving. Be sure of this, that no immoral or impure man, or one who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words [the devil will try to trick you into thinking that there is no consequence for sin], for it is because of these things that the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. [no matter whether you have been baptized or not you won’t be saved if you have committed grave sin and are unreconciled with God].
God Forgives Through the Priests
The Bible verse John 20:22-23 describes how our Lord sent the Holy Spirit to His apostles, the first priest, to administer forgiveness of sins, during confession, if they find the penitent (the person confessing) truly sorrowful.
Mortal Sins Make Someone Deserving of Eternal Punishment
1 John 5:16 explains the difference between deadly (mortal) sin and non-deadly (venial) sin, and how going straight to God to ask forgiveness for venial sins is acceptable. However, if there’s a possibility that someone has committed a mortal sin, then they should not go directly to God with this, but instead confess that mortal sin (learn what mortal sins are as defined by the Bible) to a priest in confession, as a soul needs that healing grace of the Holy Spirit to free them of their sins which is given to them through the sacrament of reconciliation (confession).
The reason why it’s necessary to go to a priest for confession after committing a possible mortal sin—which is a serious sin someone chooses to commit—is that if the sinner doesn’t have perfect contrition (perfect sorrow) for their sin (which is hard to achieve, as it takes great grace for such sorrow to develop) and they only have basic contrition (sorrow), then without the healing power of the sacrament of confession—delivered by the Holy Spirit through the priest—their union with God will not be restored. If that union is not restored, the sinner will continue to stay in a state of spiritual death and be deserving of Hell.
Priests Have Been Given the Power to Forgive Mortal Sins
That’s why God gave the awesome power over retaining or forgiving sins to His priests. “I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Matthew 16:19). The sacrament of confession—which can only be performed by a priest—is truly God’s gift of love to us wretched sinners, since it is our only ordinary means to be forgiven of such grievous offenses against God. In addition to giving us life saving grace (sanctifying grace), confession also sends incredible actual grace (God’s help) into everyone’s soul who confesses even venial sins (less serious sins) to the priest. So God can strengthen them and guide them to sanctity.
Everyday Someone Stays in the State of Death (with unforgiven mortal sin) They Loose More and More Grace
When someone commits a mortal sin (see mortal sins as defined by the Bible), every day that they stay in that state of spiritual death they lose grace (the ability to understand the true faith, and strength to combat other temptations). Outwardly they don’t appear spiritually dead, and most likely think they’re “just fine,” but make no mistake and let no one deceive you; there is no eternal life for anyone who has severed their relationship with Jesus through mortal sin (cf. Ephesians 5:6).
Perfect Contrition is Very Hard to Obtain
Being in a state of spiritual death (having unforgiven mortal sin on one’s soul) leaves the ability to acquire perfect contrition more and more impossible with every passing day that someone remains without sanctifying grace (the grace given to us at baptism which is lost through mortal sin). Therefore, going to a priest for confession—after someone has become spiritually dead in their sins for a period of time—is most likely their only hope for salvation. Give great thanks to God for the gift of confession, as well as the gift of our priests—for without them we would not have the sacrament of reconciliation for the salvation of our sinful souls.
The Wise Obey Jesus’ Church
To be assured of salvation, even if you “think” you possess perfect contrition, the Catholic Church says you MUST still confess your mortal sins to a priest; it is the only way to ensure salvation for all of eternity.
Other Churches Lack the Fullness of the Faith–Which Might Result in the Loss of Jesus Forever
Armed with this knowledge, we must take an honest look at what we do and why we believe what we believe, to see if it is in accord with the real teachings of Jesus, which is only found in His Church—The Catholic Church. Of course, Protestant churches love and worship Jesus too, but they are lacking the fullness of the faith to such a degree that their salvation may be lost as a result. They lack the most important aspects of salvation: reconciliation (confession and the forgiveness of sins), and the Eucharist (Jesus’ true presence—His actual Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity in Holy Communion). No matter how much fun or enjoyable another Christian church might be, without these principle mysteries (the sacraments), the loss of salvation could be devastating. No fellowship is worth that, as only the truth will save souls.
Don’t Miss it All — Join it All
This is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of what has been removed from the Catholic Church in creating these other churches. If they only knew what they were missing then surely they would convert to the fullness of the faith, where a life filled with God’s peace and joy, and the surety of salvation is obtained for all those who live His Word.