“Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” ~ Matthew 4:17
“And many who had believed came confessing and telling their deeds.” ~ Acts 19:18
Everyone knows the importance of confession and why we need it, yet many struggles with questions of how Confession is supposed to work. Am I doing it the right way? How often should I confess? And what am I supposed to do in Confession?
The goal of this article is to answer some of the basic questions about Confession. The goal is not to convince you that you need to confess, but rather to show you how Confession is supposed to work. Our lack of desire to confess often stems from a lack of understanding of what confession truly is and how it is supposed to work.
What Confession Is NOT: (Counseling vs Confession)
One of the key points in understanding confession is making a distinction between confession and counseling. Often we confuse the two. We think of confession as some type of counseling session. Therefore, because we don’t have major issues in need of counseling, we presume that we don’t need to confess. That is incorrect.
Counseling is an important component in the development of one’s spiritual life. It may be needed on and off at various times throughout one’s life – especially during times of transition or tribulation. However, counseling is NOT the same as confession. Counseling is important for many; confession is NECESSARY FOR ALL.
“He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.” ~ Proverbs 28:13
What Confession Is: (A True Mystery )
Confession is a sacrament of the Church. The term sacrament comes from the Greek word “mysterion” which literally means ‘mystery’. I prefer to use the term ‘mystery’ as opposed to ‘sacrament’ as it gives a greater emphasis on what is taking place.
Every Mystery of the Church is called such because something is taking place which goes beyond what the eye can see. On the surface, the eye sees one thing – but in reality, something much greater is taking place. For example, in the Mystery of the Eucharist, the eye sees bread and wine; but the reality is the Divine Body and the Precious Blood of Christ. In the Mystery of Baptism, the eye sees a human going into a pool of water; but the reality is that a new man is being born in Christ, given a new nature. In the Mystery of Matrimony, the eye sees two people dressed nicely and smiling for the camera; but the reality is that those two people have become one flesh.
In the same way, the Mystery of Confession is more than meets the eye. The eye sees a man sitting with a priest, struggling to reveal his sins. But the reality is that the man is not sitting before a priest, but really before the throne of the Most High God. And he is not just telling his sins, he is washing his soul. And he is not listening to advice from a mere man, but rather from the Immortal Spirit of God.
His Grace Bishop Benyameen once spoke about the Mystery of Confession. He said that the Mystery of Confession “is where the Holy Spirit takes the action of our Lord Jesus Christ on the cross and applies it to the sin of the individual” – just as the Lord Jesus spoke about the coming of the Holy Spirit and said “He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you.” John 16:14.
In other words, it is in Confession that the saving action of the Lord on the Cross becomes personal – for me…for my specific sins…for my personal salvation.
Preparing Ourselves for the Kingdom:
Before the Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, St. John the Forerunner was sent to prepare the path for Him. And his message was simple “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” [Matthew 3:2]. Our Lord echoed the same message as He traveled all throughout the villages of Galilee [see Matthew 4]. Why? Because repentance is the primary means by which we prepare for the coming of the Kingdom.
Every sin must be judged by God. None can be overlooked. It is your choice whether to judge that sin here and allow God to cleanse it, or to wait till after death and allow that sin to be judged before the Throne of God. Your choice. Confession prepares us for the coming of the Kingdom.
“He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.” Proverbs 28:13
The first and most important message that our Lord Jesus Christ ever preached was very simple, “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 4:17) Repentance is one of the most misunderstood subjects in our church. We hope that the resources below will help you to understand the beauty and grace given to us in this great sacrament, and also provide you with practical tips so that you can get more out of confession.