Why do we need to go to a priest for confession?
Why can’t I just confess my sins to God?
Daily self-examination and confession/ asking for forgiveness of sins are always to be a part of one’s prayer life. As communion was received at every Divine Liturgy, regardless if it was on Sundays or weekdays, this became all the more incumbent on the early Christians (cf. I Corinthians 11:28),
However, the Scriptures understand that the receiving and incarnation of forgiveness does not happen in isolation any more that do any of the acts of God.
When David the King sinned, God send the prophet Nathan to not only make him aware that he could not hide his sins, but also to tell him, when repentance had genuinely taken place, that his sins were forgiven (Samuel 12).
To be a Christian, one must be a part of a local community church; no one can be a member 'at-large' of the Church. This means we do not live in isolation; even God is community with His Son and Holy Spirit.
No one can always be “in touch” with what is always going on inside of them. Our “personhood” is only known in relationship to others. The church assumes that when someone wants to know the views of Jesus and His tradition it is with the clear commitment to apply His teachings to their lives. That is the meaning of being a member of the church. To not do so is tantamount to saying. I will do what I want; reality revolves around my feelings and me. Jesus has to adapt to me, not to Him. It is like saying, I am married, but I am not committed to what marriage means; faithfulness is what I say it is. Then one would ask why even bother calling yourself married. Where thus attitude exists towards the teachings of Chris and His church is itself reflective of the need of confession as it is the sin of seeing God in our image, rather than us in His.
In speaking of prayer for the sick, St. James , the brother of our Lord and first bishop of Jerusalem , writes that the presbyters of the Church should be called who will anoint the ill person. In this context, with the presbyters / pastors, he points out the result is healing AND , if there are any sins, “they will be forgiven” 5:15).
Connected to this context of the presbyters with the person who is being prayed over, James writes, “Therefore confess your sins to one another…” (5:16). He then writes about Elijah the prophet’s prayers effecting a drought and then (3 years) later bringing back rain.
Why does Scripture ask this to happen in the context of the presbyters and their prayers? When Christ rose from the dead, He empowered the 11 remaining Apostles with the Holy Spirit and said, “If you forgive the sins of others, they are forgiven. If you retain the sins of any, they are retained” (Jn. 20:23 ). This is an injunction to the pastors about pronouncing the release from sins and the embrace of forgiveness and repentance. It is the same authority that Jesus gives to Peter in the “Keys to the Kingdom” – that “whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth, will be loosed in heaven” (Matt. 16:19).
If one says they “don’t need anyone to declare them forgiven”, then they would not need clergy to pronounce them married, or their child baptized, or ever need a doctor to pronounce them healthy. The priest’s role is to be a physician for our souls to give an accurate diagnosis and healing and be able to receive God’s judgment before all the saints and angels.
To arrange for a time for confession, please conatc Fr. John, (215) 635-0316, (843) 513-2514.