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The importance and necessity of confession

Genesis 50:15-21

Pastor David Ernst

Fourth Sunday after Trinity
Epiphany Lutheran Mission of La Caramuca  
Barinas, Venezuela

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Sun, Jun 27, 2021 

Grace and peace in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Our Old Testament reading is the end of the book of Genesis and the story of Joseph and his brothers. Joseph was the darling of his father, Jacob, son of Isaac and grandson of Abraham, and his jealous brothers sold him into slavery. However, by the grace of God, Joseph rose from slavery in Egypt to be an official of the country's government. By the advice of Joseph, Egypt was prepared for years of bad harvests and famine. When Joseph's sons came to Egypt to buy food, Joseph forgave their crime against him and gave his family refuge.

But, look at the consequences of sin. Reconciliation between human beings, even relatives, is often difficult. Not only is it difficult for those who have been betrayed to trust those who have betrayed them, traitors do not trust the forgiveness of those they have betrayed.

Seventeen years after the reunion between Joseph and his family, Jacob died. Joseph's brothers thought that it was only for the sake of his father that Joseph had refrained from taking revenge on them for the wrong they had done. Joseph had forgiven his brothers, but they had not openly confessed to his betrayal of Joseph. Their guilt was their main problem; it made them suspicious of Joseph.

“And his brothers came also, and fell down before him, and said, Here we are for your servants. And Joseph answered them, Fear not: am I in the place of God? You thought badly against me, but God directed it to good, to do what we see today, to keep many people alive. Now, then, do not be afraid; I will support you and your children. He thus consoled them, and spoke to their hearts. "

Their repentance was now an accomplished fact: they had made a full and free confession. Thus, the brothers received the perfect assurance of the forgiveness of their sins, because it is by confessing and abandoning sins that mercy is obtained. The Lord had not only thwarted their evil intentions, but had transformed them for the better, as they clearly saw before their eyes, that their own lives were saved as a result of the Lord's providence.

Sins must be confessed. Before God, we must admit to being guilty of all sins, even those that of which we are unaware. Before our neighbor we must confess all the sins that we have committed against him. Unconfessed sins sow the seeds of more rebellion against God and greater misunderstanding among people. Also, people who do not see their own sins become hypocrites. They condemn in others what they allow themselves to do.

Neither can the denial of sin ever bring deliverance from guilt before God. Of course, Jesus Christ paid the price for the sins of all mankind on the cross, once and for all. By the blood of Christ, the entire human series has been redeemed and released from the condemnation of the law. This is the objective justification.

However, we must acknowledge our sins against God and against our neighbor and hear the words of absolution to receive the benefits of the saving work of Jesus Christ.

God. he has given us parents and teachers to guide and discipline us as children. God has given us judges and courts to establish justice and reconciliation among citizens. God has given us the church and pastors to show us our sins so that we can repent. Notice, verse 37 prohibits only destructive judgment, Jesus said in John 7:24: "Do not judge according to appearances, but judge with just judgment." He does not contradict 1 Corinthians 5:12; 1 John 4: 1 or the disciplinary judgment of the church, Matthew 18: 17.18; John 20:23. He forbids hypocritical, self-exalting, and righteous judgments.

Before our neighbor we must confess all the sins that we have committed against him. It is especially important to confess and reconcile with our fellow believers before sharing the sacrament. This is the meaning of the sharing of the peace of Christ in our liturgy.

In our church we have two forms of confession before God, the public confession and the private confession. In the liturgy, public confession or preparatory confession is part of our preparation to receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit, the preaching of the Word, and the sacrament of the altar. In the Latin Mass, the confession is called the “Confiteor” and is the oldest part of the preparatory section of the divine service. The current text is based on a confession made by Philip Melanchthon in 1552. Our general confession is unique in its kind, because it traces sin to its origin, our corrupt nature in thoughts, words and deeds. No other liturgical confession makes this confession of total corruption.

The absolution of the pastor corresponds to the Indulgentiam of the Latin mass. The Indulgentiam was interpreted as another request for forgiveness, because a general absolution was not enough for serious sins. The Reformation turned the Indulgentiam into a true absolution of sins, which with its announcement of forgiveness and the promise of the Holy Spirit comforts the sinner and strengthens him to lead a godly life of faith.

We also retain private confession. This past Friday marked the anniversary of the Presentation of the Augsburg Confession to the Diet of Augsburg in 1530. The confession is the fourth document contained in the Book of Concord, the declaration of the faith of the Lutheran Church, after the creeds. ecumenical .. The confession consists of 28 articles that expose what Lutherans believe, teach and confess. Article XI reads as follows: “Regarding confession, it is taught that private absolution should be preserved in the church and that it should not fall into disuse, although in confession it is not necessary to relate all transgressions and sins, since this is impossible. Psalm 19:12, "The errors, who will understand?"

The pastor hears public or private confession by virtue of his office as a servant of Christ. Thus the pastor is the ear and mouth of Christ for the penitent. It is Christ who hears the sins that are confessed to the pastor and it is Christ who absolves sinners through the word spoken by the pastor (Luke 10:16, Small Catechism V),

Ordination places the pastor under orders to forgive and retain sins (John 20: 19-23). In the ordination vow, the candidate solemnly promises to perform the duties of the office in accordance with the Holy Scriptures and the Lutheran Confessions. The candidate explicitly promises "never to divulge the sins that have been confessed to him." This vow is made knowing that such vows are promises made to God Himself. If the civil authorities seek to force the pastor to speak of the sins that have been confessed to him, he must resist giving to Caesar what belongs only to God (Matthew 22: 15-21). Therefore, we must receive absolution from the pastor, public or private, as from God Himself, without doubting, firmly believing that our sins are forgiven before God in heaven. In this promise, we have the peace that passes all understanding. Amen.

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