Can Man Forgive Sins?

Absolution is a traditional theological term for the forgiveness experienced in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. This concept is found in the Roman Catholic Church, as well as the Eastern Orthodox churches, the Anglican churches, and most Lutheran churches.

The Absolution of the Dead is a series of prayers for pardon and remission of sins that are said in some Christian churches over the body of a deceased believer before burial. In the Catholic Church the Absolute are said over a deceased Catholic following a Requiem Mass and before burial. The absolution of the dead does not forgive sins or confer the sacramental absolution of the Sacrament of Penance. Rather, it is a series of prayers to God that the person’s soul will not have to suffer the temporal punishment in purgatory due for sins which were forgiven during the person’s life.

The Holy Bible is very clear that God (YHWH) alone can forgive sins and Jesus Christ (Yeshua HaMashiach), being God, has the power to do so, but He never communicated any such power to His apostles, nor did they ever assume any such power to themselves, or pretend to exercise it. In fact, it is the mark of antichrist to attempt anything of the kind because, in doing so, he usurps the divine prerogative and places himself in God’s seat. Rather, this passage is to be understood only in a doctrinal, or ministerial way, by preaching the full and free remission of sins through the blood of Christ, according to the riches of God’s grace. To as many as repent of their sins and believe in Christ, all disciples of Christ can confidently declare that all their sins are forgiven for Christ’s sake and to His glory.

  • “Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?”
    (Mark 2:7 ESV)
  • And the scribes and the Pharisees began to question, saying, “Who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?”
    (Luke 5:21 ESV)

Most churches that practice the absolution of sin do so under the assumed authority of John:20:23. But does this passage of Scripture give us the right to forgive the sins of another man?

  • If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”
    (John 20:23 ESV)

The meaning of this verse has been hotly debated for centuries. One thing is certain: this does not mean we have the power to justify people from their sins so that they become born again; only God can do that.

Many people have taught that Jesus was saying that if we fail to witness to others, we are retaining their sins unto them, and if we do share His love with others, then we are remitting their sins. Although there is truth to that statement, that is not what this verse is teaching. Rather, this is dealing with the temporal effects that sin has on people’s lives. There isn’t just a future death penalty for sins, but sin destroys people emotionally and physically in this life too. It is this present destruction that sin brings into people’s lives that Jesus gave us power to remit.

Through intercession we can remit people’s sins so that even though they have sown to the flesh and deserve to reap corruption, they will not reap what they have sown. This is done for the purpose of loosing people from the bondage that Satan desires to hold them in until they see the light and repent. This is only a temporary situation and must be continually repeated if the people we are praying for are continuing to live in sin.

  • Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.
    (Galatians 6:7-8 ESV)

On the other hand, sometimes it is not in people’s best interest to remit their sins. There are times when they need to be made painfully aware of the consequences of their sins. In these cases, we have power to retain their sins (church discipline); that is, we withdraw our intercession and let them reap what they sow in the hope that this will cause them to turn back to God.

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The Queen of Heaven

The Queen of Heaven is a title given to the Blessed Virgin Mary by Christians mainly of the Roman Catholic Church, and also, to some extent, in Anglicanism and Eastern Orthodoxy, to whom the title is a (disputed) consequence of the First Council of Ephesus in the fifth century, in which the Virgin Mary was proclaimed “theotokos“, a title rendered in Latin as Mater Dei, in English as “Mother of God“.

The Catholic teaching on this subject is expressed in the papal encyclical Ad Caeli Reginam, issued by Pope Pius XII. It states that Mary is called Queen of Heaven because her son, Jesus Christ (Yeshua HaMashiach), is the king of Israel and heavenly king of the universe. The Eastern Orthodox Churches do not share the Catholic dogma, but themselves have a rich liturgical history in honor of Mary.

The title Queen of Heaven has long been a Catholic tradition, included in prayers and devotional literature, and seen in Western art in the subject of the Coronation of the Virgin, from the High Middle Ages, long before it was given a formal definition status by the Church.

According to Catholic doctrine, Mary was assumed into heaven and is with Jesus Christ, her divine Son and is represented in Book of Revelation 12 as the woman clothed with the sun who gives birth to Christ. Mary should be called Queen, not only because of her Divine Motherhood of Jesus Christ, her only Son, but also because God the Father has willed her to have an exceptional role in the work of the eternal salvation of humanity. The papal encyclical Ad Caeli Reginam, argues that as Christ, because he redeemed humankind, is its Lord and king by a special title, so the Blessed Virgin Mary is Queen, on account of the unique manner in which she assisted in the redemption of humanity by giving of her own substance, by freely offering him by her singular desire and petition for, and active interest in, human salvation.

Ad Caeli Reginam states, “The main principle on which the royal dignity of Mary rests is without doubt her Divine Motherhood. So with complete justice St. John Damascene could write: “When she became Mother of the Creator, she truly became Queen of every creature. Mary was chosen as Mother of Christ in order that she might become a partner in the redemption of the human race.”

Jeremiah the Prophet wrote, “Do you not see what they are doing in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem? The children gather wood, the fathers kindle fire, and the women knead dough, to make cakes for the queen of heaven. And they pour out drink offerings to other gods, to provoke me to anger” (Jeremiah 7:17-18 ESV).

Likewise, Jeremiah the Prophet also wrote, “Then all the men who knew that their wives had made offerings to other gods, and all the women who stood by, a great assembly, all the people who lived in Pathros in the land of Egypt, answered Jeremiah: “As for the word that you have spoken to us in the name of the LORD, we will not listen to you. But we will do everything that we have vowed, make offerings to the queen of heaven and pour out drink offerings to her, as we did, both we and our fathers, our kings and our officials, in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem. For then we had plenty of food, and prospered, and saw no disaster. But since we left off making offerings to the queen of heaven and pouring out drink offerings to her, we have lacked everything and have been consumed by the sword and by famine.” And the women said, “When we made offerings to the queen of heaven and poured out drink offerings to her, was it without our husbands’ approval that we made cakes for her bearing her image and poured out drink offerings to her?” Then Jeremiah said to all the people, men and women, all the people who had given him this answer: “As for the offerings that you offered in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem, you and your fathers, your kings and your officials, and the people of the land, did not the LORD remember them? Did it not come into his mind? The LORD could no longer bear your evil deeds and the abominations that you committed. Therefore your land has become a desolation and a waste and a curse, without inhabitant, as it is this day. It is because you made offerings and because you sinned against the LORD and did not obey the voice of the LORD or walk in his law and in his statutes and in his testimonies that this disaster has happened to you, as at this day.” Jeremiah said to all the people and all the women, “Hear the word of the LORD, all you of Judah who are in the land of Egypt. Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: You and your wives have declared with your mouths, and have fulfilled it with your hands, saying, ‘We will surely perform our vows that we have made, to make offerings to the queen of heaven and to pour out drink offerings to her.’ Then confirm your vows and perform your vows!” (Jeremiah 44:15-25 ESV).

Clearly, the Queen of Heaven existed log before the Virgin Mary or the birth of the Messiah. This title referred to Ishtar (pronounced Easter), an Assyrian and Babylonian goddess also called Ashtoreth and Astarte by various other groups. She was thought to be the wife of the Baal, also known as Molech. The motivation of women to worship Ashtoreth stemmed from her reputation as a fertility goddess, and, as the bearing of children was greatly desired among women of that era, worship of this “Queen of Heaven” was rampant among pagan civilizations. Sadly, it became popular among the Israelites as well. The title Queen of Heaven was a title given to a number of other ancient sky goddesses in the ancient Mediterranean and Near East, in particular AnatIsisInnana, and Hera. Elsewhere, Nordic Frigg also bore this title. In Greco-Roman times Hera, and her Roman aspect Juno bore this title. Forms and content of worship varied.

Jesus publicly rebuked a woman who blessed the Virgin Mary, “As he said these things, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to him, “Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts at which you nursed.” But he said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it” (Luke 11:27-28 ESV).

There is no Queen of Heaven. There has never been a Queen of Heaven. There is most certainly a King of Heaven, the Lord of Hosts, Jehovah. He alone rules in heaven. He does not share His rule or His throne or His authority with anyone. The idea that Mary, the mother of Jesus, is the Queen of Heaven has no scriptural basis whatsoever, stemming instead from proclamations of priests and popes of the Roman Catholic Church. While Mary was certainly a godly young woman greatly blessed in that she was chosen to bear the Savior of the world, she was not in any way divine, nor was she sinless, nor is she to be worshiped, revered, venerated, or prayed to in any way.