HOLY CONFESSION OF YOUR HEART
The Sacrament of Holy Confession
in the Eastern Orthodox Church
As it says in John 20:23, “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven. If you retain the signs of any, they are retained.” This is the power of the presbyter or bishop to remit sins on behalf of God. He mediates for us to God, but only God forgives us our sins. This sacrament is an often misunderstood practice in the Eastern Orthodox Church. Many Protestants and Evangelicals protest that you can only have “God forgive your sins.” But there is a very good reason why we confess our sins to others apart from God: it’s called accountability. One feels more ashamed to commit a sin again, if another knows about it. If one confesses only to God, but no one else, then you can not be helped in fighting your sins properly. You will continue making the same errors, and will have no shame, since it is just your secret you keep to yourself. This means that you are more likely to commit this sin again! God would onto want that. He wants us to be as holy as possible.
This holy sacrament is even prefigured in the Old Dispensation. In Leviticus 5:4-6, it says “… that unrighteous soul, which determineth with his lips to do evil, or to do good, according to whatsoever a man may determine with an oath, and it shall have escaped his notice (or her) , and he shall know, and he sin in some one of these things, then he shall show his sin in the things wherein he hath sinned by that sin. And he shall bring for his transgressions against the Lord, for his sin, an ewe lamb of the sheep, or a kid of the goats, for a sin offering; and the priest shall make an atonement for him for his sin, which he hath sinned, and his sin shall be forgiven him.” Though we no longer make sin offerings of ewe lambs, we offer our lives and our hearts instead. We do this at the sacrament of confession, just as it was done in the sacrifices of Ancient Israel. The priest today also makes atonement for our sins before God, as well.
Indeed, one can see confession is important, since “whosoever covereth his own ungodliness shall not prosper: but he that blame to himself shall be loved.” (Proverb 28:13) All shall “prosper” from this holy sacrament, since it cleanses one’s conscience and way of life.
Saint Maximos the Confessor says that “Every genuine confession humbles the soul. When it takes the form of thanksgiving, it teaches the soul that it has been delivered by the grace of God.” (Philokalia. Saint Maximo’s the Confessor was born in Constantinople 580 A.D, and died in Tsageri, Georgia, on 13th of August 662 A.D, while he was in exile.) We all know we have been delivered by God when we are forgiven our sins, and we are eased of our burdens and Continue reading