I am a Christian. My sins are forgiven and removed as far as the east is from the west. I stand completely blameless before the Father because of Christ’s sacrifice. When God sees me He sees a perfect creation. That is not because of us. It is a complete work of Christ in me and not anything I have earned by my own effort or behavior (2 Cor 5:17-21).
So if I am blameless in his sight, completely pardoned before I even commit the act, then why bother confessing sins?
Does scripture actually tell us to confess sin or is that a church tradition? Let’s look:
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9
Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. James 5:16
I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Psalm 32:5
A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet went to him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba. Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin! For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment. Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me. Psalm 51:1-5
So confession is biblical and must be a part of your life as a believer. You see it both in the Old And New Testament. Some would argue that confession was necessary before Christ only, but it is also commanded of believers in the New Testament too.
In order to best understand confession, it is helpful to look closely at the word in its original language. It’s construction gives us insight into its importance for the spiritual life. The word confession in the Greek is ὁμολογέω (homologeo). It is created by two separate words: homo and logeo. Home means “same,” like in homosapien (same species). Logeo means “word,” like its usage in John 1, the logos (word) became flesh and dwelt among us. So confession means to “say the same word.” Don’t miss the significance of that: confession is saying the “same word” about sin as God does. It is to be in agreement with God about the nature of sin. How does God see sin? He hates it. So we should confess the same thing to God by acknowledging that we also hate sin and see it as a destructive force in our life. Sin dishonors God and by confessing it we acknowledge that sin is unworthy of the gospel at work in us.
To confess or not to confess is not an option for a believer. We must acknowledge our sin. We don’t need to confess to a priest or any human agency but have direct access to the Father (Hebrews 4:16).
Should we confess our sin to each other? We are to confess sin to each other but only so we can help each other carry that burden (Galatians 6:2). I would confess sin to other Christians I trust to help carry the burden and to hold me accountable.
Confession does several things for us. When we confess sin we are living out the gospel. Confession shows our desperate need for grace in our lives. Confession also keeps us humble as we admit daily to our struggles with sin.
Perhaps the Lord’s Prayer gives us the best insight into our calling to confess:
4 and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation. Luke 11:4
Confession is good for your soul. You don’t need it to be forgiven but how can you call yourself His if you don’t despise what He despises. We must take sin seriously and confession is how we acknowledge its destructive force in us.
I suggest every night before you go to bed confessing your sins to the Lord. Thank Him for His forgiveness and grace and provision to overcome sin.