if god forgives sins why cant i confess my sins to god and ask god to
forgive me does that suffice for confession
This is one of the oldest and most common Protestant objections to the sacramental life of the Church which Christ instituted.
Let’s start with the easy part. You CAN confess your sins to God. You can and SHOULD. However, you also want to know that you are forgiven and not have to wonder about it. Christ surely knew of our need to be confident that we are forgiven. In His mercy He gave us a sacrament so that we would be sure. It is Christ’s will that we confess sins to the priest: that’s why He gave us a sacrament for this purpose.
Now let’s back up.
Christ, in His earthly lifetime, instituted seven sacraments. One of them is the sacrament by which our post-baptismal sins are forgiven.
Christ forgave sins during His earthly ministry. Since He was not going to be here with us after the Ascension, Christ delegated His own authority to forgive sins so this ministry would continue (e.g., Matthew 16:18-19, John 20:22-23).
In John 20 we read that Christ breathed on the Apostles, imparting the Holy Spirit in a certain way, and said, “Receive the holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.” Note well that Christ said, “whose sins YOU forgive”, and not merely, whose sins “I forgive through you”. In effect, that is what happens: Christ is the source of all forgiveness. However, as in all good things we do which God inspires in we are also true agents. The Apostles and their successors, bishops and priests, say at Mass, “this is MY body” and in the confessional, “I absolve”.
After that, it is the consistent understanding of the greatest and best writers and theologians of the Church, from the Apostolic Fathers such as Irenaeus onward with the Fathers of the Church, that sins are confessed to the priest who absolves them. Individual private confession was in practice at least by the 5th c. in Rome, since Pope Leo I writes about it. St Ambrose wrote that the right to forgive sins was given to priests alone. He died in 397. This is not a medieval invention, as some anti-Catholics claim.
So, Christ’s power to bind and to loose sins is given to the ordained.
That means that the priest confessor has to know what to bind and what to loose. In turn that means that we have to tell the sins to the confessor. In turn that means that we have to tell those sins in number and kind with attendant circumstances so that a judgment can be made about them. And since it wouldn’t make sense to loose the sins of a person who isn’t sorry, there must be a demonstration of sorrow for the sins and some indication of purpose of amendment. Once the principles are set down, everything follows logically.
On another level, the sacraments were established by Christ upon basic needs: the need for nourishment, cleansing, companionship, and so forth. They use as outward signs common things: bread, wine, water, oil. It is a human need also to tell your troubles to another. And since all sacraments have both matter and form, the matter of the Sacrament of Penance is what is confessed.
Another important aspect of this sacrament truly demonstrates Christ’s love for us.
When we confess out sins to the priest and receive absolution, provided we do our best we never have to doubt that we are forgiven or wonder about it. We can walk away with true confidence that we have been forgiven. The whole “confess your sins without intermediary to God” approach is not bad in itself, and we should talk to God in this way.
But Christ Himself gave us this Sacrament so that we would have true peace of soul.
The long and short of it is: We confess our sins to the priest in the sacrament of Penance because that’s what Christ wants us to do. This is the ordinary means by which He Himself intended that we obtain forgiveness of our post-baptismal sins.
Finally, dear readers, I am sure you like to have well-crafted answers. Do send well crafted questions.
And, it bears repeating…
GO TO CONFESSION!