The Forgotten Medicine
By Mary Girgis
The sacrament of Confession, is one of the most important spiritual practices of the Christian faith because it is a necessary requirement for entry into the Kingdom of Heaven. And yet, it is the one that is most often forgotten. St Augustine, the prototypical confessor, explains the gravity of the sacrament of confession in a way that we cannot ignore:
“Let this be in the heart of the penitent: when you hear a man confessing his sins, he has already come to life again; when you hear a man lay bare his conscience in confessing, he has already come forth from the sepulchre.” – St Augustine of Hippo
We are made dead by sin but made alive again by confession. So why do we continuously avoid it? Why do we keep choosing death over life?
Because death is sweeter.
There’s a certain bliss that comes with ignoring my sin. When I deny myself of the medicine that is confession, I lose all accountability for my actions. How liberating! To be free from guilt.
Perhaps for a time.
At first, I ignore my sinful actions, living in a spiritual stupor. But it isn’t long before I am roused by an unrelenting conscience. It is then that I realise that I am enslaved by sin.
What can free us from this slavery?
“For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.” (Hebrews 10:14)
Under the new covenant, the one perfect sacrifice of Christ is enough to procure spiritual pardon for all nations and ages. Our only task is to repent and confess before the Lord, and He will free us from our sin, and in effect, our guilt.
If I am to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, I must partake in true repentance with:
- Remorse for my sins
- An honest intention to improve
- Faith in Christ and assurance of His mercy
- Verbal confession of my sins before a priest
“Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Matthew 18:18
Jesus gave his apostles the divine discretion to “bind” or “loose” sin. A sentence is not valid until it is endorsed by Christ’s representatives who, for us, are the priests. They are the ones who have been given the authority by Christ to absolve us from our sins.
Again, that’s what we often fear about confession – a heightened sense of guilt. But God has given us a superior alternative – His grace, which is sweeter than any flavour of death.