Questions From Readers
In view of Jehovah’s willingness to forgive sins by the merit of the ransom sacrifice, why is it necessary for Christians to confess to the older men in the congregation?
As can be seen in the case of David and Bath-sheba, Jehovah forgave David’s sin, grave though it was, because of David’s genuine repentance. When the prophet Nathan approached him, David openly confessed: “I have sinned against Jehovah.”—2 Samuel 12:13.
However, Jehovah not only accepts a sinner’s sincere confession and extends forgiveness but he also makes loving provisions to help the erring one progress to spiritual recovery. In David’s case, the help came through the prophet Nathan. Today, in the Christian congregation, there are spiritually mature older men, or elders. The disciple James explains: “Is there anyone [spiritually] sick among you? Let him call the older men of the congregation to him, and let them pray over him, greasing him with oil in the name of Jehovah. And the prayer of faith will make the indisposed one well, and Jehovah will raise him up. Also, if he has committed sins, it will be forgiven him.”—James 5:14, 15.
Skillful elders can do much to ease the pain of heart that is felt by the remorseful sinner. They strive to imitate Jehovah in their
dealings with him. They never want to be harsh, even though strong discipline maybe warranted. Rather, they compassionately consider the immediate needs of the individual. Patiently they strive to readjust erring one’s thinking by using God’s Word. (Galatians 6:1) Even if a person does not voluntarily confess his sin, he may still be moved repentance when approached by the elders, as David was when approached by Nathan. The support thus rendered by the elders helps the one to avoid the danger of repeating the sin and the serious consequences of becoming a hardened practicer of sin.—Hebrews 10:26-31.
It is certainly not easy to confess to others deeds that one feels ashamed of and to seek forgiveness. It takes inner strength. Reflect for a moment, though, on the alternative. One man who failed to reveal his serious sin to the elders in the congregation said: “l felt a pain in my heart that would not go away. I increased my efforts in the preaching work, but the sickening feeling remained.” He felt that confession to God in prayer was enough, but clearly it was not, for he experienced feelings similar to King David’s. (Psalm 51:8, 11) How much better to accept the loving assistance that Jehovah provides through the elders!
THE WATCHTOWER • JUNE 1, 2001 31
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The bible does mention confessing sins but in the context of confessing directly without the elder ‘filter’.
*** Rbi8 1 John 1:9 - 2:2 ***
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous so as to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we make the statement: “We have not sinned,” we are making him a liar, and his word is not in us.
2 My little children, I am writing YOU these things that YOU may not commit a sin. And yet, if anyone does commit a sin, we have a helper with the Father, Jesus Christ, a righteous one. 2 And he is a propitiatory sacrifice for our sins, yet not for ours only but also for the whole world’s.
Why go beyond that? Especially since the account of David and Nathan was pre-Christ. You really doubt that many elders will consider anyone that did not confess voluntarily as ‘repentant’ although how many judicial committees would have considered David repentant?