Just for Catholics

Confessing Sin to other Christians

Question: If I have sinned and repented of that sin, do I have to confess it to my Christian brothers? Your help in this matter would be appreciated.

Answer: Sin is the breaking of Godís Law and therefore it disrupts our communion with Him. But that is not all. Sin also strains interpersonal relationships. We should keep both aspects in mind.

To be forgiven by the Lord, you must repent and confess to Him. "I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I have not hidden. I said, 'I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,' and You forgave the iniquity of my sin" (Psalm 32:5). It seems that you have done that already, so you can rest assured that God has forgiven your sin according to His promise.

God is also concerned that we should be reconciled to each other. Therefore He instructs us to confess our faults one to another (James 5:16). That does not mean that we should go about informing everybody what we have done. We should rather settle matters with the person or persons involved only, as Jesus said: "Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift" (Matthew 5:23-25). Go to the offended person and be reconciled with him, and that would be the end of the matter.

I am aware that it takes courage and humility to do this. Prepare yourself in prayer, think what you should say, and, finding the right opportunity, go and meet with the offended brother or sister. Speak respectfully and meekly, admit your wrongs and ask for forgiveness. The Lord will help you obey His word and restore peace in His church.

Copyright Dr Joe Mizzi. Permission to copy and distribute this article without textual changes. < BACK TO Q&A