Ricardo asked:

I work in prison ministry and one of the questions that came up was why do we have to confess our sins if Jesus Christ already paid for our sins by dying on the cross?

Jimmy Akin replied:

"... They may be presupposing that Jesus's death resulted in all of our sins, past, present and future being forgiven. This is false. This is not what it says in scripture. Jesus did die so that all of our sins could be forgiven. But it's clear from scripture that that's something that happens over time. We're not forgiven for our sins before we repent ...

It's clear that His forgiveness is applied to us in time. It's not something that's just out there because He died once for all a long time ago. Also, it's clear that even after we turn to Him and are forgiven we still sin, and we still need to appropriate forgiveness and that's why He taught us to pray in the model Christian prayer: forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors, to use on translation ... The fact that we're praying for ongoing forgiveness means we need ongoing forgiveness ... Now sometimes our sins are so severe, are so significant that we need to use not just a prayer but we need to use a sacrament for them to be forgiven and that is by Jesus' own design.

If you look in John chapter 20 down in verses 20 to 23, the resurrected Christ comes to His ministers and says receive the Holy spirit and then He breathes on them to empower them to forgive sins,saying as the father sent me so I send you. Whosoever's sins you forgive they are forgiven. Whosoever's sins you retain they are retained ... So if they're going to do that they need to know about the sin. They need to know whether we're really repentant of it or not so they need ... to know whether they should forgive it or retain it. That means we need to give them that information. We need to confess it ..."


Catholic Answers, "Open Forum" (San Diego: Catholic Answers, 2014)

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Show air date: July 17, 2014

Name of show: Open Forum

Guest comments by: Jimmy Akin

Question appeared in show: 32:20

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