Is it necessary to confess the sins you have committed to your pastor before being baptized?

This question came from a person who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, received baptism and joined a church. She wants to know if every sin she committed must be confessed before getting baptized:

I have recently received New-Testament baptism. It was wonderful; praised be the Lord! I felt like a new and free person. Every day, I try to be better. Everything was normal: accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior, baptism registration, catechesis, public confession and submergence in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. But something has bothered me for some time: I didn’t confess to my pastor a sin I committed when I was young. I confessed it to the Lord and, after I received the baptism, never did it again. Should I worry? Thank you and God bless you.

Dear brother or sister in Christ, none can know all the sins they committed before turning to Christ. God knows about all sins and through faith in Jesus Christ, He gives us perfect forgiveness and thorough cleansing of them.

There is a wrong teaching, which says that every sin that was not confessed publicly is not forgiven. People who say this, place the feeling of guilt and uncertainty over those who have recently turned to God and are complacent believers, don’t have a biblical basis. You received a perfect forgiveness the day you turned to Christ and chose to follow His teaching. The apostles didn’t ask people who were turning to Christ to make lists with all their sins, and they didn’t tell them if they had sins they have not confessed, then they would not inherit God’s kingdom nor would be forgiven.

I’ve seen a pastor who heard about this practice and started to ask people to confess all their sins. He showed me a list with impure and abominable things, that I suppose most people neither think about nor practice. Someone taught that pastor that he should ask each member of the church about the sins from the list, that if they have ever committed any, and practiced, then they should confess those sins. I imagine what a disgusting experience it was for those who were asked. I hope the pastor understood that we are the Church of Christ and not a totalitarian cult; and we can’t treat people this way.

On the other hand, if there is a sin that worries you, and you are tempted to commit it again, then yes, you must go to your pastor, talk with him and ask for help in this spiritual warfare. The pastor is the person who counsels you about the way of the Lord, how to be victorious and grow spiritually.

It is very important to have your spiritual life in order, otherwise you will not be able to grow spiritually and will be vulnerable to temptations of the sins you committed before or the sins you have never known or practiced before. It is very important to always study the Holy Scriptures, keep watch in prayer and tell all people about Jesus Christ. May God help you to go His way and serve the saints with all your spiritual gifts that you received from the Holy Spirit.

Translated by Liza Birladeanu.

Read this article in Romanian.