What keeps Christians weak and unproductive?


If you were the devil and you wanted to keep Christians barren, sick and ineffective, there is one simple thing that you could do: you would hide or distort the good news that we have been totally and eternally forgiven.

Show me any Christian who is making a mark for God today, and I’ll show you someone who knows they have been forgiven. Complete and unconditional forgiveness is the foundation of our faith. It is what separates Christianity from all the manmade religions of the world.

Yet many sincere believers do not know they are forgiven. They’re unsure. And if you’re not sure about that, you won’t know for certain whether God wants to heal the sick, raise the dead and drive out demons.

When I started Escape to Reality, I wrote quite a lot about forgiveness and how it’s a gift that can never be earned. At that time I received many comments from people who objected to what I had to say about confessing sins.

Confession seems to be a touchy subject. I don’t want to belittle confession but I do want to distinguish between healthy and unhealthy confession. If talking and being open about things brings life to you, then do it. But if you think confessing sins is a prerequisite to receiving forgiveness, then you are in danger of setting aside the grace of God.

As we will see in this quick study, confessing-to-be-forgiven is one of the most diabolical lies that has ever been taught. It is also one of the most effective – just look at what it has done to us. Instead of discipling nations we’re cloistered in small groups trying to manage each other’s sin. Instead of exercising authority over sin and sickness, we’re enslaving ourselves with the yoke of law. Instead of telling others the good news, we’re weeping at the altar like a bad advertisement.

I want to draw some clear lines in the sand, so in this short series I will outline 12 reasons why believers never have to confess their sins to be forgiven. If it appears that I’m preaching the negative, it is only to highlight the many positive things that the Bible says about your forgiveness. I’m going to travel fast and light across a lot of ground. I will list scriptures but leave you to study them at your leisure. My hope is that you will come to a firm conviction about your forgiveness, that you will thank God for what he has done and live free. Then I hope you will  tell others the good news of God’s grace. Everyone needs the gift of forgiveness.

Without further ado, here are the first three reasons why we don’t have to confess our sins to be forgiven:

1.    It’s not in the Bible

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 Jn 1:9)

This is the only verse in the Bible where our confession is connected with His forgiveness. The Greek word for confess is homologeo which means to acknowledge, concede or agree with. In this passage John is writing to unbelievers who thought they were without sin (see v.8). How do I know that John is talking to unbelievers and not Christians? Because he is addressing people who are walking in darkness (v.6), who need to be purified from all unrighteousness (v.9) and who, by insisting that they have never sinned, are making God out to be a liar (v.10).

What message does John have for sinners who don’t think they’re sinners? “Acknowledge your sinful state, turn to God and receive his gift of forgiveness.”

There’s only one thing that stops a sinner from receiving God’s grace and that’s unbelief. If you don’t see your need for forgiveness, you are well and truly lost. You may claim to know God but he doesn’t know you. There’s only one way to the Father and that’s through Jesus Christ and his finished work on the cross. God made provision for your redemption and forgiveness at the cross, but you will never see it unless you acknowledge (ie: confess) your need for a Savior.

And what message does John have for those of us who have already turned to Jesus? Do we need to confess too? We already have! Remember, confession means agreeing with God. When you first surrendered to the Lord, you might have prayed “thank you for forgiving me.” That’s  confession. You were acknowledging that you had a sin problem and in need of God’s forgiveness. In the New Testament people sometimes confessed their sins when they were baptized (Mt 3:6). How many times do you need to be baptized before you are baptized? Just once. How many times do you need to say yes to God before you are in agreement with God? Just once. And how many times do you need to receive God’s free gift of forgiveness before you have received it? Just once. (And for those of you interested in Greek verb tenses, see my note in the comments below.)

2.    You were forgiven 2000 years ago

When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; He has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. (Col 2:13-14)

We all need to forgive and be forgiven, but when it comes to sin, your forgiven-ness is a done deal. Jesus forgave all your sins at the cross long before you were born, long before you did anything. Your performance never came into it. I said above that 1 John 1 was written for unbelievers who don’t see their need for forgiveness. In the second chapter John writes for the saints, and what does he tell them? “Your sins have been forgiven on account of His name” (1 Jn 2:12). If your sins have already been forgiven, what are you confessing for?

3.    You were forgiven through his blood

Under the old covenant law, there could be no forgiveness without the shedding of blood (Heb 9:22). What the law prefigured, Christ fulfilled. At the Last Supper Jesus explained the basis of our forgiveness:

This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. (Mat 26:28)

Note the absence of any qualifiers. Jesus did not say, “…provided they confess first.” It’s His blood from start to finish. 1 John 1 may have given you the impression that sinners are only forgiven when they confess. But John makes it clear that it is not our confession but “the blood of Jesus Christ (that) cleanses us from all sin” (1 Jn 1:7). So why confess at all? Remember, Biblical confession is not listing everything that’s wrong with you. True confession is a positive response to something that God has already done. It is verbalizing faith. It is saying “thank you Jesus for your blood that was poured out for my forgiveness. Because of You, I am forgiven!”

Never forget that you are forgiven

What is the number one reason why Christians are barren and ineffective in their knowledge of the Lord Jesus? According to 2 Peter 1:9, it is forgetting that we have been cleansed from our old sins. To keep the church weak and impotent, the enemy only needs to get us to forget our forgiven-ness.

Indeed, forgiveness is easy to forget when we sin. And that’s why it is important to confess the word of God over ourselves. So the next time you stumble, don’t get introspective but put your faith into action. Look at yourself in the mirror and declare with confidence that you have been forgiven by the blood of the Lamb!

In Part II of this study we will look at three more promises about forgiveness and three more reasons why Christians don’t need to confess their sins to receive them.

26 Comments on What keeps Christians weak and unproductive?

  1. Why die for someone you can’t forgive? Jesus forgave us but the law requires our death so, He paid that price, fulfilling the law. He then conquered death. Took the keys to death, hell and the grave and became the first born among many brethern. The first to die and raise again who did not die again. All the others that were raised, died again. Now He promises all who believe in Him, though he die, yet shall he live again.

  2. It is dangerous to make exegesis verse by verse. There aren’t chapter or verse separation in the original Greek text. The chapter must be read as a unit and get the proper context. John is not writing to, nor could he be writing to unbeliever. The introduction is very clear: “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life…” Where did they hear? Within the community of believers. There is need to correct faulty theology, a big problem within the church. The idea that Jesus did it for me and that’s enough is a false and incorrect teaching.

    • If Jesus didn’t die for you, who did he do it for?

    • You are guilty of doing the same thing you accuse the author of. You are only taking part of the passage and forming your opinion by it. Keep reading until you reach the part a few sentences later(v3) that says “that you may also have fellowship with us”. Reading the passage as a whole shows that while the speaker heard the truth in the community of believers he is talking to those who Do Not have fellowship with them.

  3. Nwogbaga Ugochukwu Timothy // March 8, 2022 at 8:51 pm // Reply

    I did Appreciate your view as it pertains to confession and God’s forgiveness of our sins.
    My humble comment is: what about those sins committed as one moves on with his/her christian life ?

  4. Hi, this is rather confusing to me. I understand I’m a sinner, and that according to the Bible, Jesus dealt with the sin of the world, which I would consider was mine too. I don’t understand how to do the receiving part, since I have been told saying a prayer is not needed and isn’t salvation. I am desperate for being delivered. I’m scared I may rely some on my own performance attempts. Struggle with anxiety and doubt. Was told I have ocd but who knows. I just don’t want to go to hell. Hard to tell what is what when so many argue different things..

    • Hi Jared. Praying is always a good idea. We receive grace by faith, but faith is often expressed through our words. It’s saying things like “Have mercy on me” and “Jesus, help” and “Thank you, Jesus!” I strongly encourage you to talk to your heavenly Father about the things on your mind. Come boldly to his throne of grace.

      • I just don’t know if I have responded to His invitation to His kingdom and on His terms alone/the cross and His righteousness. I don’t know quite how to do the responding, and am so anxious over eternity, whether He will have me bound and cast out. I don’t have the peace of God many speak of.

      • His terms are these: “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved” (Rom 10:9-10). Do you believe? Have you confessed? Then you are saved and your feelings don’t come into it. If you don’t have peace it is because the devil is trying to unsettle you and rob the word. So decide who you will listen to. Listen to the Lord, receive his righteousness, and you will have peace and joy. Everyday remind yourself, I am the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. And when those lying thoughts fly overhead, remind yourself again.

  5. Sorry, second comment. How can I tell if my heart has been made new? I still get enticed by sin, and often yield unfortunately. At times thoughts like “if He paid it all, just sin” come into my head, and I fear this may be me. Yet, I want to do right so as to not make God sad. If I could just connect to being unconditionally loved and know I believe or how to receive! I nearly daily feel doubt, uncertainty, and anxiety and ruminate on this in between praying for clarity and help

    • I can tell your heart is made new because you are distressed by sin and don’t want to make God sad. Unregenerate sinners are not concerned about such things. Now that you have been made new, learn how to win the war in your mind and receive the victory that Christ has won. There are many articles in the Archives that will help. Be blessed.

      • Thank you Paul, I can take some comfort in this. Some sins entice me so and seem exciting in the moment and certain temptations get very strong.

        I have often expressed to God that I fear I’m relying a bit on my performance attempts and thus still trying instead of trusting Jesus and what He did to make me reconciled to Him and get me Home. I tell Him to the best of my knowledge, I’m not meaning to be doing that and though I feel anxious and not sure I’m fully convinced, still He has said Jesus nailed it all to the cross and obtained eternal redemption, so I willfully choose to say ok then, it’s on You. Often I feel rather unsure I even believe it or am convinced of this, but if need be I’ll go blindfolded over the “cliff” into eternity, venturing on willfully choosing to hold to what He said Jesus did anyway. As much at least as I am aware of in my own mind, I know of no other way for heaven, though I often doubt myself, my intentions, desires, actual belief conclusions, and decisions.

      • How can I tell or know if I believe in the heart? I think I believe Jesus dealt with my sins, but I get so confused that I’m not sure on anything! According to the verse you quoted Rom 10:9, one must believe in the heart that He was raised from the dead. I do believe Jesus is now back in heaven, yes. Yet how can I tell whether I truly “confess” Him or am just saying words, and believe in the “heart”?

      • It’s very simple. Ask yourself this question: Do I believe Jesus dealt with all my sins on the cross? If the answer is yes, you’re all good. If the answer is no, repent and believe the good news. Then you’ll be all good. And when you know you’re all good, thank him for who he is and what he has done for you.

      • In my mind, I think I believe He did so, yet I can never feel settled on it, and because of that, I fear I don’t actually believe it. Sorry, I don’t mean to pest or ask dumb questions, but how to change my mind and “just believe” once and for all? Is it just a matter of the will?

        Also, in one of your articles, you mentioned how that those who see grace, who are regenerated, won’t desire sin. I yield to it seemingly a lot I think, and some sin does seem enticing to me, so in a sense, I have some desire for sin. Worries me too, yet I see the Corinthian church of believers(as Paul said) struggled with sin a lot too, confusing..

      • Paul, in your book you ask, “are you saved”. That type of this always jolts me with anxiety and more uncertainty. I do want salvation, I do. How to move into trusting and have it? You gave the verse “whoever calls on the Lord shall be saved”, but is that what that verse is driving at? Isn’t me calling/praying out for salvation and saying, I’m saved because I called, still about me? I’m so confused. Why won’t God give me the revelation to my heart of His grace and love that I need, and how for me to receive it..?

      • Eder Faggiani // March 29, 2022 at 5:40 am //

        Jared, I while ago I was pretty unsure about my salvation and forgiveness of sins, especially when I sinned. In those times I kept repeating in vain (1000 times a day) that I was forgiven by the word of God, and, still, that condeming feeling comes and go. I realised that I was living by feelings, and feelings come and go depending on circunstances or your emotions, but the word of God is always faithfull, even if I not feel forgiven or saved. So stop trying to base your acception or salvation on your works (Do I Believe? Did I believed enough?) or feelings (Do I feel saved or forgiven), because salvation, justification and other amazing things are gifts, and you, my friend, is saved, cleaned and justified forever, for God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable. (Romans 11.29)

  6. Eder, thanks for responding to this. I wake daily with a sense of doom, risk, like something isn’t right, and I get confused whether or not I do believe Jesus dealt with my personal sins in full. So me trying to assess if I do believe or not is a work?! Oh dear, that’s frightening to me. How do I just practice moving past it all, it’s like a automatic daily mental/emotional, confusing torment? I get fearful and unsure just what I believe or if I’m convinced, and have no way of knowing if I’m regenerated or not. Thanks

    • Eder Faggiani // March 30, 2022 at 3:35 pm // Reply

      Jared, I understand you perfectly. It is an agony and constant insecurity to the point of madness. Personally, I started to meditate and speak little verses, as they take the focus away from me, until they take root deep in the heart. As, for example: Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8.1). Jesus and The Holy Spirit will never condemn you. Also read the book “The Gospel in Ten Words” by Paul Ellis. It’s a process that builds foundations in your heart. Remember that you are not the only one, and that this can be normal in the Christian walk until we mature our heart and mind. In short, read a lot and be so full of the word (Jesus) that it alone drives out all condemnation and doubt. God cares deeply for you and will help you.

      • K, I’ll try this, thanks. When I read that ver in Rom 8:1, instantly I wonder, but am I in Christ, and feel very uncertain. It’s like I’m trying to believe/trust but not actually trusting, and thus I fear if I’m eternally doomed. The sin struggles and enticements I yield to, which seems often, doesn’t help with the fear over being an unbeliever and unregenerate.

      • Eder, it’s the “how” as far as accepting or receiving salvation that I cannot connect to. One must believe or trust, yet how to know I do? How to know I have come to really seeing I’m a helpless sinner as is always said, and in need of deliverance? And I often find I sin, part of me wants to live right it seems, and yet I Do get enticed by certain things and have a desire. Yet it’s said a believer won’t live in sin or they aren’t actually a regenerated believer, just a fake. So where in scripture does it specify what living in sin is verses “just” sinning? Also, is belief a volitional choice or a realization that just either happens or it doesn’t?! Why is it all so hard and complex? I’m distraught.. sorry

  7. Jared, I hope you don’t mind me jumping in here. Eder and others here and of course Bro. Ellis, are doing a fine job of reaching out. This is just something that came to my mind as I had struggled with much of what you are as well. It really makes NO sense at all, for the Lord Jesus, who willingly went through all the horrors of the cross for us, for me and for you and all people, then when we do come to Him the best we know how to just receive Him that after going through ALL THAT, that He would then say something to the effect, “Jared, you know, I don’t think you did it JUST RIGHT when you reached out to Me, so I’m not gonna save you, Sory bud…That just makes ZERO sense. He went through that so we CAN come to Him and it brings him JOY to see us come! )Hebrews 12:1-2). I am praying for you my brother.

  8. What about confessing to someone that I committed a sin (example: told them a lie). If I am saved through grace by faith in Jesus, am I forgiven, or do I have to confess to the person I told a lie too? Is my salvation dependent upon confession to that person?

    • Your salvation is based on your response to the Savior, but being open and honest with others is always a good idea. Honesty is a key ingredient in any healthy relationship.

  9. Promise Nwulu // March 26, 2023 at 1:31 am // Reply

    Why is it that when someone prayed,he/she sees his/herself praying in the flesh, even though you’ve been forgiven of your sins. Because sometimes I find it difficult to pray in the spirit and I’m having so many thoughts about it, both in my ministration, I’m a corristar, a choir.

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