Q. In my past I did something at this couples house that I felt bad about. I felt it on my heart to confess to my leader and I did. I had confessed to the Lord before that and prayed for forgiveness. Then I felt it on my heart to confess my sin to the couple. When I called the wife and said I had a sin to confess to her she stopped me and said, “You don’t have to do this.” She told me I didn’t have to tell her, that I was already forgiven, and that I need only confess to it God, walk away from it and not mention it again. What is the biblical role of confessing sin? I look at Proverbs 28:13 and it seems that I am supposed to confess my sins even to other people that I have wronged. What is your take on the whole confessing to other people?
A. Proverbs 28:13 says he who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy.
I think the woman you tried to confess to was being very gracious. If you felt in your heart the need to confess to her, then you were being obedient in calling her. The fact that she stopped you and said you need only confess to God and walk away from it shows that she has forgiven you and moved on herself.
After committing adultery with Bathsheba and having her husband killed so he could marry her, David confessed to God saying, “Against you, you only, have I sinned” (Psalm 51:4). James 5:16 admonishes us to confess to each other, but it’s in the context of restoring ourselves to righteousness during prayers for healing. It’s not commanding a direct confession to the person we’ve wronged.
From these references many people adopt the practice of apologizing to someone they’ve treated badly to repair the damage they’ve done to the friendship, but confessing the sin they’ve committed to God to receive His forgiveness.