Mk 2:5 When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, "My son, your sins are forgiven." (NAB) Lk 7:47 "I tell you, that is why her (Mary Magdalene) many sins are forgiven - because of her great love ..." He said to her then, "Your sins are forgiven." (NAB)Jesus scandalized some Jews of his own time by claiming to have the authority to forgive sins.
Mk 2:7 Why does the man talk that way? He commits blasphemy! Who can forgive sins except God alone? (NAB)
Mk 2:10 "That you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins [he said to the paralyzed man] I command you: Stand up! Pick up your mat and go home." The man stood and picked up his mat and went outside in the sight of all. (NAB)
Mt 16:19 Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. (NAB)
Mt 18:18 I assure, whatever you declare bound on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you declare loosed on earth shall be loosed in heaven. (NAB)The Apostle John, an eyewitness, recorded more directly the words of Jesus giving the power to forgive sins to all the Apostles after the testimony of the Resurrection.
Jo 20:21-23 "Peace be with you," he (Jesus) said again. "As the Father has sent me, so I send you." Then he breathed on them and said: "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive men's sins, they are forgiven them; if you hold them bound, they are held bound." (NAB)Other New Testament scriptures bear witness that the Apostolic Church acknowledged the use of the power to forgive sins.
Acts 2:38 Peter answered: "You must reform and be baptized, each one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, that your sins may be forgiven; then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." (NAB) 1 Jo 1:9 But if we acknowledge our sins, he who is just can be trusted to forgive our sins. (NAB) 1 Jo 2:12 Little ones, I address you, for through his Name your sins have been forgiven. (NAB)The constant teaching of the Church and the Fathers of the Church in explicit words testify to the existence and use of the power to forgive sins in the Church.
The Didache (70-110)
Tertullian (Rome, 160-220)You shall confess your offenses in church, and shall not come forward to your prayer with a bold conscience. This is the way of life. (Ch 4:13)
Ambrose (Tier, 340-397)'But,' you say, 'the church has the power of forgiving sins.' This I acknowledge and adjudge more [than you; I] who have the Paraclete Himself in the persons of the new prophets, saying, 'The church has the power to forgive sins; ...(On Modesty, Ch 21, ML 2, 1024)
Jerome (Stridon, 345-419)See that sins are forgiven through the Holy Spirit. But men make use of their ministry for the forgiveness of sins, they do not exercise the right of any power of their own. For they forgive sins not in their own name but in that of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. They ask, the Godhead gives, the service is of man, the gift is of the Power on high. (On the Holy Spirit, Bk 3, Ch 18, ml 16, 808)
The ecumenical councils of the Church, the official magisterium, also attest to the truth of this sacrament.Far be it to censure the successors of the apostles, who with holy words consecrate the body of Christ, and who make us Christians. Having the keys of the kingdom of heaven, they judge men to some extent before the day of judgment, and guard the chastity of the Bride of Christ. (Letters, No. 14, ML 22, 352)
The Council of Constance (1414 - 1418)
The Council of Florence (1438-1445)A Christian has the obligation, over and above heartfelt contrition, of confessing to a priest.
The fourth sacrament is penance.
The Council of Trent, 1545 - 1563
But our Lord instituted the sacrament of penance notably on the occasion when after his resurrection, he breathed upon his disciples saying: "Receive the Holy Spirit; whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them; and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained (John 20:22). The universal agreement of the Father has always understood that by such a striking action and by clear words the power of remitting and of retaining sins, and of reconciling the faithful who have fallen after baptism was communicated to the apostles and to their legitimate successors; ... Therefore this holy council accepts and approves the true meaning of these words of our Lord and condemns the false interpretation of ... those words.
Sin in man is, first, an aversion or turning away from God.
Job 34:27 Because they (man) turned away from him (God) and heeded none of his ways. Is 1:2-4 Hear, O heavens, and listen, O earth, for the Lord speaks: Sons have I raised and reared, but they have disowned me! An ox knows its owner, and an ass, its master's manger; But Israel does not know, my people have not understood. Ah! sinful nation, people laden with wickedness, evil race, corrupt children! They have forsaken the Lord, spurned the Holy One of Israel, apostatized. (NAB) Dan 9:9-10 But yours, O Lord, our God, are compassion and forgiveness! Yet we rebelled against you and paid no heed to your command, O Lord, our God, to live by the law you gave us through your servants the prophets. Rom 1:19-32 In fact, what can be known about God is clear to them; he himself made it so. Since the creation of the world, invisible realities, God's eternal power and divinity, have become visible, recognized through the things he has made. Therefore these men are inexcusable. They certainly had knowledge of God, yet they did not glorify him as God or give him thanks; they stultified themselves through speculating to no purpose, and their senseless hearts were darkened. They claimed to be wise, but turned into fools instead; they exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images representing mortal man, birds, beasts and snakes. God therefore delivered them up ... (NAB) Phil 3:18 Unfortunately, many go about in a way which shows them to be enemies of the cross of Christ. I have often said this to you before; this time I say it with tears. Such as these will end in disaster! Their god is their belly and their glory is in their shame. I am talking about those who are set upon the things of this world. (NAB) Mt 6:24 No man can serve two masters. We will either hate one and love the other or be attentive to one and despise the other. You cannot give yourself to God and money. (NAB) Jo 12:43 They (the Pharisees) preferred praise of men to the glory of God. (NAB) Ja 4:4 O you unfaithful ones, are you not aware that love of the world is enmity to God? A man is marked out as God's enemy if he chooses to be the world's friend. (NAB)The sin of man is also a conversion or turning to created things.
Rom 1:19-32 In fact, what can be known about God is clear to them; he himself made it so. Since the creation of the world, invisible realities, God's eternal power and divinity, have become visible, recognized through the things he has made. Therefore these men are inexcusable. They certainly had knowledge of God, yet they did not glorify him as God or give him thanks; they stultified themselves through speculating to no purpose, and their senseless hearts were darkened. They claimed to be wise, but turned into fools instead; they exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images representing mortal man, birds, beasts and snakes. God therefore delivered them up ... (NAB) Phil 3:18 Unfortunately, many go about in a way which shows them to be enemies of the cross of Christ. I have often said this to you before; this time I say it with tears. Such as these will end in disaster! Their god is their belly and their glory is in their shame. I am talking about those who are set upon the things of this world. (NAB) Jo 12:43 They (the Pharisees) preferred praise of men to the glory of God. (NAB) Ja 4:4 O you unfaithful ones, are you not aware that love of the world is enmity to God? A man is marked out as God's enemy if he chooses to be the world's friend. (NAB) Is 22: 12-13 On that day the Lord, the God of hosts, called on you to shave your head and put on sackcloth. But look! you feast and celebrate, you slaughter oxen and butcher sheep, you eat and drink wine: "Eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!" (NAB) Rev 18:7 In proportion to her (Babylon) boasting and sensuality, repay her in torment and grief. (NAB)Aversion from God leads to eternal death.
Rom 6:23 The wages of sin is death ... (NAB) Col 2:13 Even when you were dead in sin and your flesh was uncircumsized ... (NAB) Rom 7:13 Rather, sin, in order to be seen clearly as sin, used what was good to bring about my death. (NAB)Turning to created things leads to punishment from God.
Num 14:20-23 The Lord answered (Moses): "I pardon them as you have asked. Yet, by my life and the Lord's glory that fills the whole earth, of all men who have seen my glory and the signs I worked in Egypt and in the desert, and who nevertheless have put me to the test ten times already and have failed to heed my voice, not one shall see the land which I promised on oath to their fathers. None of these who have spurned me shall see it." (NAB) 2 Sam 12:13-14 Then David said to Nathan, "I have sinned against the Lord." Nathan answered David: "The Lord on his part has forgiven your sin: you shall not die. But since you have utterly spurned the Lord by this deed, the child born to you must surely die." (NAB) 1 Cor 11:27-32 He who eats and drinks without recognizing the body eats and drinks a judgment on himself. That is why many among you are sick and infirm, and why so many are dying. If we were to examine ourselves, we would not be falling under judgment in this way; but since it is the Lord who judges us, he chastens us to keep us from being condemned with the rest of the world. (NAB) Rev 18:7 In proportion to her (Babylon) boasting and sensuality, repay her in torment and grief. (NAB)The saving power of the blood of Christ saves us from eternal death and washes us free of the guilt of sin.
Eph 1:7 It is in Christ and through his blood that we have been redeemed and our sins forgiven. (NAB) Eph 2:5 He (God) brought us to life with Christ when we were dead in sin. By this favor you were saved. (NAB) Eph 2:13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near through the blood of Christ. (NAB) Rom 5:9 Now that we have been justified by his blood, it is all the more certain that we shall be saved by him from God's wrath. (NAB) Col 1:14 Through him we have redemption, the forgiveness of our sins. (NAB) Heb 9:13-14 For if the blood of goats and bulls and the sprinkling of a heifer's ashes can sanctify those who are defiled so that their flesh is cleansed, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal spirit offered himself up unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from the dead works to worship the living God. (NAB) Heb 13:12 Therefore Jesus died outside the gate, to sanctify the people by his own blood. (NAB) 1 Pet 1:19 Realize that you were delivered from the futile way of life your fathers handed on to you, not by diminishable sum of silver or gold, but by Christ's blood beyond all price: the blood of a spotless, unblemished lamb chosen before the world's foundation and revealed for your sake in these last days. (NAB) 1 Jo 1:7 But if we walk in light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of his Son Jesus cleanses us from all sin. (NAB) Rev 1:5 To him who loves us and freed us from our sins by his own blood ... (NAB)The Word of God provides a way for man to do reparation--to remove the temporal punishment due for sin--for the personal or social values lessened or destroyed when man turned to created things in sin.
Dan 4:24 Therefore, O king, take my advice; atone for your sins by good deeds, and for your misdeeds by kindness to the poor; then your prosperity will be long. (NAB) Joel 1:14 Proclaim a fast, call an assembly; gather the elders, all who dwell in the land, into the house of the Lord, your God, and cry to the Lord! (NAB) 1 Kgs 21:26-29 He (Ahab) had become completely abominable by following idols, just as the Amorites had done, whom the Lord drove out before the Israelites. When Ahab heard these words (of punishment from Yahweh to Elijah), he tore his garments and put on sackcloth over his bare flesh. He fasted, slept in the sackcloth, and went about subdued. Then the Lord said to Elijah the Tishbite, "Have you seen that Ahab has humbled himself before me? Since he has humbled himself before me, I will not bring the evil in his time. I will bring the evil upon his house during the reign of his son." (NAB) Jonah 3:5-10 When the news reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, laid aside his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in the ashes. Then he had this proclaimed throughout Nineveh, by the decree of the king and his nobles: "Neither man nor beast, neither cattle nor sheep, shall taste anything; they shall not eat, nor shall they drink water. Man and beast shall be covered with sackcloth and call loudly to God; every man shall turn from his evil way and from the violence he has in hand. Who knows, God may relent and forgive, and withhold his blaz ing wrath, so that we shall not perish." When God saw by their actions how they turned from their evil way, he repented of the evil that he had threatened to do to them and did not carry it out. (NAB) Prov 16:6 By kindness and piety guilt is expiated, and by the fear of the Lord man avoids evil. (NAB) Mt 6:16 When you fast, you are not to look glum as the hypocrites do. They change the appearance of their faces so that others may see they are fasting. I assure you, they are already repaid. When you fast, see to it that you groom your hair and wash your face. In that way no one can see you are fasting but your Father who is hidden; and your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you. (NAB) Mk 9:28 When Jesus arrived at the house his disciples began to ask him privately, "Why is it that we could not expel it (the mute and deaf spirit)?" He told them, "This kind you can drive out only by prayer." (NAB) Act 10:4 Your prayers and your generosity have risen in God's sight, and because of them he has remembered you. (NAB) 1 Pet 4:8 Above all, let your love for one another be constant, for love covers a multitude of sins. (NAB)The constant faith "paradosis" of the Church attests to the two fold effects of sin, aversion from God and conversion to created things, the two fold punishments due to sin, eternal and temporal, and the satisfaction of one by the blood of Christ and the other by reparation.
The New Testament speaks of confession of sin.
Ja 5:16 Hence, declare (confess) your sins to one another, and pray for one another, that you may find healing. (NAB) 1 Jo 1:9 But if we acknowledge (confess) our sins he who is just can be trusted to forgive our sins. (NAB)By way of summary, the following is a chart of the revelation of sin and its consequences.
SIN ____________________|____________________ | | aversion from God conversion to created (Job 34:27) things | (Is 22:12) | | | | OFFENDS GOD PERSONAL/SOCIAL VALUES LESSENED/DESTROYED (CULPA) (POENA) (Rom 1:19) (Rev 18:7) | | eternal punishment temporal punishment due due (Phil 3:18) (2 Sam 12:13; Jonah 3:5) | | DEATH REPARATION (Rom 6:23) (Acts 10:4; Dan 4:24) | | OR OR | | Friendship restored Punishment from at Calvary God (Eph 1:7) (1 Cor 11:27) | | GRACE POWER OF THE KEYS (Eph 2:5; 2 Tim 1:9) (Mt 16:19; Mt 18:18) ____________|__________ | | (before death) (after death) Indulgences Purgatory (Mt 16:19) (1 Cor 3:11)
It is important to state that all sin offends God. With even the slightest sin in our eyes, we alienate God and are unholy in his sight.
Mt 6:24 No man can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other or be attentive to one and despise the other. You cannot give yourself to God and money. (NAB) Ja 4:4-10 O you unfaithful ones, are you not aware that love of the world is enmity to God? A man is marked out as God's enemy if he chooses to be the world's friend. Do you suppose that it is to no purpose that Scripture says, "The spirit he has implanted in us tends toward jealousy"? Yet he bestows a greater gift, for the sake of which it is written, "God resists the proud but bestows his favor on the lowly." Therefore submit to God; resist the devil and he will take flight. Draw close to God, and he will draw close to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, you backsliders. Begin to lament, to mourn, and to weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy into sorrow. Be humbled in the sight of the Lord and he will raise you on high. (NAB)It has been objected that the long standing teaching of the Church of a distinction between "mortal" and "venial" sin was an artificial distinction.
But is was the Apostle John, Evangelist and author of three epistles as well as the Book of Revelation from whom the church took that distinction among sins.
1 Jo 5:16-17 Anyone who sees his brother sinning, if the sin is not deadly ("venial"), should petition God, and thus life will be given to the sinner. This is only for those whose sin is not deadly. There is such a thing as a deadly sin ("mortal"); I do not say that one should pray about that. True all wrongdoing is sin, but not all sin is deadly. (NAB)The Church is also criticized for teaching sin by lists. But again it is from the Bible itself that the Church takes the lead in teaching the word of God about those behaviors which are sin.
Mk 7:20-23 Jesus went on: "What emerges from within a man, that and nothing else is what makes him impure. Wicked designs come from the deep recesses of the heart: acts of fornication, theft, murder, adulterous conduct, greed, maliciousness, deceit, sensuality, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, an obtuse spirit. All these evils come from within and render a man impure. (NAB) Gal 5:19-21 It is obvious what proceeds from the flesh: lewd conduct, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, hostilities, bickering, jealousy, outbursts of rage, selfish rivalries, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I have warned you before: those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. (NAB) Eph 4:18-32 ... put an end to lying; ... If you are angry, let it be without sin. The man who has been stealing must steal no longer; ... never let evil talk pass your lips. ... Get rid of all bitterness, all passion and anger, harsh words, slander, and malice of every kind ... (NAB) Eph 5:3-7 As for lewd conduct or promiscuousness or lust of any sort, let them not even be mentioned among you; your holiness forbids this. Nor should there be any obscene, silly, or suggestive talk; all that is out of place. Instead, give thanks. Make no mistake about this, no fornicator, no unclean or lustful person - in effect an idolater - has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with worthless arguments. These are sins that bring God's wrath down on the disobedient; therefore have nothing to do with them. (NAB) Eph 5:18 Avoid getting drunk on wine; that leads to debauchery. (NAB) Mt 5:28 What I say to you is: anyone who looks lustfully at a woman has committed adultery with her in his thoughts. (NAB) Mt 5:32 What I say to you is: everyone who divorces his wife--lewd conduct is a separate case-- forces her to commit adultery. The man who marries a divorced woman likewise commits adultery. (NAB) Mt 5:34 What I say to you is: do not swear at all. (NAB) Rev 21:8 As for the cowards and traitors to the faith, the depraved and murderers, the fornicators and sorcerers, the idol-worshipers and deceivers of every sort--their lot is the fiery pool of burning sulphur, the second death! (NAB) 1 Cor 6:9-10 Can you not realize that the unholy will not fall heir to the kingdom of God? Do not deceive yourselves: no fornicators, idolaters, or adulterers, no sodomites, thieves, misers, or drunkards, no slanderers or robbers will inherit God's kingdom. (NAB)