12 reasons why you don’t need to confess-to-be-forgiven

The grace of God has many expressions, but forgiveness is the first. Miss forgiveness and you’ll miss grace.

How do we set aside grace? One way is to treat forgiveness as something other than a gift. If you work to earn what God has given, then you have made the cross of Christ of no effect. You have set aside grace and made yourself a co-savior.

Over the past few weeks we have looked at 12 reasons why we never need to confess our sins to be forgiven. By “confess” I mean listing all your sins. I thought it might be worth pulling all these reasons together in a single list with links back to the original posts…

12 reasons why Christians don’t need to confess-to-be-forgiven

1.    It’s not in the Bible. To confess (homologeo) is to agree with God. We all need to agree that we are sinful and in need of a Savior. We also need to agree that our sins were dealt with once and for all at the cross. We need to agree with the scriptures that say we are eternally and completely forgiven. We need to stop misreading 1 John 1:9.

2.    You were forgiven 2000 years ago. All your sins were future sins – you hadn’t been born yet.

3.    You were forgiven through his blood. Your forgiveness was paid for with God’s blood. Your works don’t come into it.

4.    You were forgiven completely for all time. Jesus will never go to the cross again.

5.    You were forgiven in accordance with the riches of God’s grace. Forgiveness is his business and his gift to give. Receive it or reject it but you can’t earn it.

6.    Your sins are long gone. Jesus’ sacrifice was the atom bomb that did away with sin.

7.    God chooses to forget your sin. God is love. Love keeps no record of wrong. Your heavenly Father is not a fault-finder.

8.    The Holy Spirit is not convicting you. The law convicts, but the Holy Spirit liberates. How could he convict you of something he chooses not to remember?

9.    Confessing-to-be-forgiven puts us under law. Mixing God’s grace with man’s works is like mixing milk with poison. The result is not going to be good for you.

10.    Confessing-to-be-forgiven empowers sin. Instead of dealing with sin and releasing life, law-based confession stirs up sin and leads to death.

11.    Confessing-to-be-forgiven keeps us from God. When dealing with people, confessing sins and seeking forgiveness may help heal a guilty conscience. But God doesn’t relate to us with human love. Reviewing our sins in a religious way can harm a good conscience and shipwreck our faith.

12.    Confessing-to-be-forgiven makes us sin-conscious, not Christ-conscious. Every minute you spend dwelling on your sin is a minute wasted. You’re not worthy? Get over yourself! Christ is worthy!

Why confess-to-be-forgiven when it’s not in the Bible?

I am not against confession. True confession is putting faith into words; it is articulating God’s promises, God’s declarations, and God’s will. But confessing-to-be-forgiven is a dead work. Whether you confess to a priest or directly to God makes no difference. If you do it because you believe it makes you righteous or acceptable to God, what need have you of a Savior? You have set aside grace and put yourself under law.

2 questions

You won’t find any believer in the New Testament confessing their sins to be forgiven. So why do we do it? Why do we spend so much time and energy on a death-dealing extra-Biblical practice? I can think of at least 4 reasons.

  1. We do it simply because we’ve always done it. (So read your Bible, renew your mind and live free.)
  2. We do it because we think our sin is greater than God’s grace. (It isn’t.)
  3. We do it because we are fearful of unconfessed sin. (Sin is sin and on the cross Jesus dealt with it all – big sin, small sin, secret sin and unconfessed sin. There is no sin that escaped his perfect redeeming work.)
  4. We do it because we are fearful of judgment day and uncertain about our forgiveness. We hope we’ve been forgiven, but we worry that might not be. If this is you, listen to the words of Jesus: “My friend, don’t worry! Your sins are forgiven.” (Mt 9:2, CEV)

At some point you’re just going to have to step out in faith and trust that when Jesus said “it is finished” that it really was finished. At the cross, your sin was dealt with once and for all time. Look at Jesus and cheer up!


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37 Comments on 12 reasons why you don’t need to confess-to-be-forgiven

  1. for this kind of take on Gods word you had better be ready to not only give an a count for your self but the other you lead down the wrong path.

  2. Vikedtson // July 26, 2013 at 5:58 am //

    This is stuff that has no sense. Every moment you commit evil against God because of our sinfull nature, we need forgiveness from God to please him again. Other wise we are off the track and belongs to the devil. All you have been writting is false doctine.Let the Holyspirit open your understanding on the scriptures.

    • Vikedtson – There are hundreds of posts before yours going all the way back to January, 2011. Please notice the joy level in these people. Mostly the came OUT FROM where you are theologically when they were depressed and scared because of the threat of God’s displeasure. I am also one of those who lived under this oppression for 30 years. I discovered the fuller Grace of God about 18 months ago and I’m free at last, have the Abundant Life, peace that passes human understanding, growth in the fruit of the Spirit, a yoke that is now light not heavy, I’m no longer weary and burdened, I like life now, I like flowers, music, dogs, small talk and many other small things I never had time for before I got clear that I’m permanently at peace with God. I’m a happy man. I feel like I’ve found the pearl of great price. Finding this message is the best thing that ever happened to me in my life. Better than having beautiful children or marrying a wonderful woman as I did 34 years ago. It’s my A-#1 high point of my life. Also the folks above me on these comments would say the same.

    • those who are in Christ no longer have a sinful nature – that old sinner man died when we believed in Christ and were born again… people who are born again have a new nature- a Jesus nature! 😉
      we already have forgiveness from God… repentance happens when God’s goodness is revealed and we place our faith in Christ’s perfect work that made us perfectly – one time for all – forgiven!
      i’m guessing you dont believe Jesus when He said no one can take you out of the Father’s hand… if you think that a Christian can belong to the devil…?

      • Jennie – I’m still learning. You say we no longer have a sinful nature. I take it your getting that from having “died with Christ”, right? So, how do I account for my future sins if I no longer have a sinful nature. What is enabling me to commit sin if my nature is sinless? I have a second question: If we are no longer under the Law, what is the standard to which we (meaning Christians) compare our behavior to claim that we have sinned? The Law can’t be our standard? What is our standard? These two questions are part of the Gospel I don’t fully understand.

      • yes betterthanexpected – Jesus’ died for us and as us – His death became our death when we believed in His work on the cross 🙂
        your future sins have already been forgiven – they have already been accounted for in Jesus’s one time work (think about it – all your sins were in the future when Jesus died)
        when we were born again, it was our spirits that died and were born again – our minds and bodies weren’t. The Spirit of Christ is joined to our new spirit man – we are a new creation. our minds and bodies have the learned habits of the old sinner man in them… which is why renewing our minds by focusing on Christ is so important – bc “as a man thinks so is he.” our behaviors reflect what we believe in our minds – which is why right believing always leads to right living ;).
        the answer to you second question: the Holy Spirit 🙂
        creflo dollar has been doing a really great series lately on spirit led living that is a lot more in depth than i can explain here. (you can watch creflo’s broadcasts online – the first one is dated 7/16)

      • betterthanexpected – creflo’s sermons about “the flesh” (7/19-7/23) will help with your first question 😉

    • Colleen G. // July 26, 2013 at 9:25 am //

      Vikentson- You do not realize it but that kind of thinking says that the blood of Jesus if no different than the blood of the animal sacrifices.(Hebrews 9:13-14 & 24-26)
      Grab you bible and study your way through the 12 points and their articles. You will not be disappointed. Just in case you do not want to do the study I have one simple question to ask you. According to John 3:15-18 what one thing gives us eternal life and frees us from condemnation?

  3. This is a false doctrine. Even the definition offered in the first point is false. While it is true that A meaning for homologéō; is to agree with it does NOT carry that meaning in several verses in the bible including this one. In this context the grammar of the Greek is correctly translated in most bibles to mean “confess or acknowledge”. So in this context it means to concede, admit, confess as it does in Acts 24:14. In in 1 John 1:9 what one is acknowledging is their sins. It means to confess publicly, acknowledge openly, or profess ones agreement with God that He and His righteous standard is right and my ACTIONS were wrong. The idea that this could be speaking to non-regenerate people is ridiculous, in that sinners are NEVER told to confess their sins (plural) but only to confess the Lordship of Jesus Christ. The only sin a sinner is held liable for is not repenting (changing their minds) about Who Christ is. In fact ONLY a righteous son or daughter of God COULD repent or confess their sins because they are the only ones whose spiritual nature has been changed to have the eyes to see and hearts to agree that God is right. Once we are born again God removes a stoney, indignant heart from us and gives a heart softened to His influences and then writes His law upon our hearts. This is so well established both prophetically in the old testament concerning the new covenant and throughout the entire writings of the New Testament it is almost inconceivable how this type of teaching could even get off the ground. Paul Peter and James in particular directly address the need for repentance from sins for believers look at I Cor. 5:1-14 for just one of many examples.

    • Thanks for your comment Mark. One question – what happens if we neglect to publicly confess a particular sin? You seem to equate confessing-to-be-forgiving with repentance. I don’t. One is a dead work; the other is faith in action. You may be interested in this post on 1 John 1:9.

      Please keep any responses short, as per E2R’s Comment Policy. I had to trim your comment but normally the long ones just get deleted. Thanks.

      • I appreciate your willingness keep the post I apologize for going over. The idea for publicly is just one part of the word and is used in other places like in James where we confess our fault one to another. The confession in 1John 1:9 is to God (though it most certainly could be before other believers). What would happen is they would not be forgiven. This speaks to a persons fellowship with God as the verses prior state – NOT their relationship with God. Though it is a poor comparison, it is similar to a childs unrepentant attitude towards a parent whom they wronged. It does not sever relationship but it is impossible to walk in unity with them until they establish agreement. In the case of 1John 1:9 we are the child who needs to acknowledge that the way we acted was inconsistent with our new nature and God’s character. Once we are in this agreement, fellowship is restored, but relationship was never in question.

      • I’m finding it a bit hard to follow your train of thought. On the one hand you say if we neglect to confess we are not forgiven but the relationship is not severed. So God stays with us but he holds a grudge? You seem to be saying that God’s forgiveness is not given in accordance with his grace but our works of confession.

      • It is not that our actions have removed ourselves from His Lordship, anymore than a child’s actions (regardless of how shameful, rebellious and destructive the are) separate them from the family in reality. It does however, strain the fellowship. They cannot walk together in agreement until one changes their mind. If you are in a true relationship and your are brought to a realization of the malignity of your deeds, it is only natural to seek restoration of fellowship which is a proof OF relationship NOT the procuring of it. In other words forgiveness is NOT to remove sin from the believer as much as it is to remove disagreement between he and His savior. The forgiveness is IN relationship NOT the cause of the relationship.

      • Mark, I agree that relational issues can impede fellowship from our side (not his), but we are talking here about forgiveness which is something God does without any regard for our conduct. That’s why it is called grace. To forgive is to carry or send away sin/offenses, something Christ did on the cross. Your confessing did not cause God to forgive you.

        Since you cannot accommodate this in your theology of confessing-to-be-forgiving, you have changed the meaning of the word forgive. I suggest you change your theology.

    • Colleen G. // July 28, 2013 at 7:43 am //

      Mark it seems that your salvation and walking with God depends solely upon your own ability to stay publically confessed-up-to-the-minute. Mine solely depends upon the power and holiness of Jesus and His blood. I would suggest a deep study of the blood of Christ specifically when, where and how God uses it towards our sins.
      This kind of teaching “gets off the ground” because of those who realize the utter folly of thinking we have the ability to actually stay confessed-up-to-the-minute and not miss something. Blanket “Forgive me I know I sinned at some point today” prayers are nothing but foolish mockery of the seriousness of sin. No human has the mental capacity to specifically recall every transgression they commit each day. I know my imperfect flesh far too well to put any faith there.

      • You misunderstand me, confession of sin has nothing to do with the sanctity of our relationship with God (at least not directly as Ms. Finch said). Confession of sin is not even necessarily a verbal thing, the book of James says the same thing in another way – “You adulterers do you not know that your friendship with the world is violent hostility against God…but He gives more grace therefore He says SUBMIT to God and resist satan and he will flee from you. ..draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleans your hands you sinners and purify your hearts you double minded, lament and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God and He will exalt you”. It is about humility and submission. How can two walk together unless they are agreed? When I sin I break fellowship NOT relationship and therefore my “walking together” ceases on some level until I respond to the “more grace” He gives. Even in Revelation 2 & 3 Jesus addresses sins in the churches and tells them to repent. My eternal salvation depends SOLEY upon Christ and my relational trust in Him and HIs finished work – NOT my confession. However, IF I have faith – I will confess for it is what His word demands.

      • Colleen G. // July 28, 2013 at 4:11 pm //

        You just summed up my previous theology. It was a miserable life. Yeah I was saved but the here and now was constantly being in the dog-house of blew-it-again. I burned out because it is a terrible burden.
        To put it short and to the point. That old view says that Jesus blood only covers up until the next sin is felt sorry over and admitted. New sins every day, minute or second sometimes. Never really in fellowship, never really in favor either because we just aren’t that good all-the-time. God stays distant and withholds HIs love, comfort and help because I just can’t stop sinning those pesky everyday small stuff. Focus- me, me, and my failings
        New view- Every sin I did and will do was covered in the heavenly temple with Jesus blood one time for everything. My entire record of sin was justified in God’s book when I first had faith. Jesus righteousness has been written on my account. I have been washed from scarlet to pure white and God promised to forget them. (Hebrews 9:12-14 & 24-26 10:1-18, Romans chapter 4-8, Colossians 2:13-14) Focus- Jesus and what He did
        I did not accept this view until all the pieces fell together in scripture and suddenly I was free.

      • I am uncertain how being forgiven when you confess is a bondage. It is liberating. I do not ever feel distant from God, when I sin the Holy Spirit is faithful to tell me (usually BEFORE I do it). I do not fear being rejected by God, I am free and enjoy my union with Him. Nothing about believing the truth of 1 John 1:9 puts anyone in bondage unless they are looking at it the wrong way. Most people felt in bondage under the Law, but David who had a heart after God said, “Oh how I love your Law it is my meditation all the day.”

      • Mark, you are discussing something that is not related to the post, so I’m going to end this little thread. The post above is whether our confession moves God to forgive us. No one is saying confession is bad for you. The differences between healthy and unhealthy confession are described elsewhere.

      • Mark is correct, this teaching is false doctrine. It’s called antinomianism, that believers are no longer under God’s moral law therefore willful, sinful acts in the flesh have no effect on them spiritually.

        Repeatedly in this thread it has been asked “What should the Christian’s response be after committing willful sin” and there has yet to be a straight answer. Give it to me straight and unvarnished, if I commit adultry tonight what should my response before a Holy God be? Confess my failing and thank God for His grace or go about my business because it was forgiven already.

        If you truely want a deep study of the blood of Christ specifically when, where and how God uses it towards our sins, pick u a copy of “The Power of The Blood of Jesus” by Andrew Murray,

      • A law-abuser is one who maintains we must live under the law while either breaking it himself or pretending he is keeping the law perfectly.

        You will find an answer to your question in this post and this post.

  4. Rene Finch // July 28, 2013 at 2:16 am //

    No God doesnt hold grudges.Our salvation is dependent on Christs dying on the cross and our faith in him,but Gods blessings are dependent on our relationship with him,he created us for that purpose,Prov 10;17,11:20,14:14-luke9:62-2 Peter 2:20-backsliders also James 4:-8.Yes christians can lose their relationship with God and be even be worse off than the rest of the world … No you wont lose your salvation if you dont confess sin straight away,but if you keep rebelling against the Holy Spirits leading you to John 14:15-16 to do whats right, you will eventually become hardened toward God.Disappointment discouragement,disallusement,depression,dispair.Not straight away because sin can take time for the effects to kick in.Universally the scriptures are for our benefit,so we should really take heed.Sin is also not doing the good you should Jam 4:17. So dont take what man says too seriously except those proven to be trustworthy and even then you must use discernment like with Joseph Prince.a good teacher but doesnt tell you all you need sadly.For me confession makes me feel better afterwards and frees my conscience.

    • Rene, If God’s blessings are dependent on our relationship with him then how do we explain God’s blessing Isaac when he lies just like his father? And many others have experienced God’s blessings even in sin. Isn’t that just like grace? I do agree that our relationship is hindered when we sin and we need to heed the Holy Spirit’s prompting to stop, but the blessings of God are not limited to my actions alone. Curious as to your thoughts….

  5. Hi Paul. I have a question. As you said that we don’t have to confess our sins as we are forgiven and there is grace, isn’t confession necessary in our daily lives as we are tend to sin and no one can be perfect in this world?
    If not, then what does the verse 1John:1:9 imply?

  6. Dear Brother Ellis how do you interpret the scripture we all know 1 Jon 1:9. If we confess our sins God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. And vs 10.
    Also the bible says confess your sins one to another.

    • Ray, please see this post on 1 John 1:9. I am not against confession. I am opposed to unhealthy confession.

      • Rene Finch // August 5, 2013 at 12:02 am //

        paul you say that confession is agreeing with God that Jesus death is the one time solution for our forgiveness,so are you saying you do that in your heart or use your mouth to agree sounds rediculous to me,further, John said 3 times we we we in preceding scriptures,last one if we are living in the light etc obviously talking about beleivers and if we say we are without sin but if we confess our sins etc so the teaching you espouse sounds like antinomianism which is from the mind of man not the mind of the spirit.The Holy Spirit guides us into all truth.John 16:13.Ps 32:8 is also misinterpreted.If a relationship is severed by sin dont expect it to blossom, though God is patient with us at times Matt 6:43 onwards.Keep short accounts its best that way otherwise you wont have to make up so much afterwards.

  7. Rene Finch // August 5, 2013 at 2:14 am //

    confession is necessary for fellowship so the relationship can keep going Is 64:7 a progression unconfessed sin causes guilt for the believer,what believer wants that unless hes been deceived by the doctrines of devils aka JP etc.

    • Colleen G // August 6, 2013 at 6:50 am //

      This “doctrine of devils” was a major component of releasing me from my depression caused by guilt over my sins. There is only unresolved guilt for the one who thinks that God is holding their sins against them. Before learning the truth I would sin then go around begging, pleading for forgiveness all the while beating myself up for falling again, promising to do better next time, while keeping myself distant form God of my sin. THEN
      I learned that the blood of Christ is a powerful, all cleansing weapon that was applied in the heavenly temple ONE time for ALL of my sins. Now when I sin, even “big” stuff, I stand back up, apologize to what ever people I have wronged send a quick apology heavenward for my own benefit of ownership for the action and then I get on with my life. No depression, no self hatred and above all no false un-forgiveness. To say that Isaiah 64:7 applies to yourself is to treat Jesus blood sacrifice as if it had no more strength and power than that of the animal sacrifices only able to clean up until the next transgression. Please study up these passages about the blood and sin- Hebrews 9:12-14 & 24-26, Hebrews 10:1-18

      • I think the problem here is a misunderstanding of the work of Christ which in some small way is clarified in verse 14 of the same chapter Colleen quotes from, “For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.” Sin being PAID for once for all, is a settled fact. It’s application in the life of the believer is NOT once for all, but continual. Speaketh better things demonstrates not a once for all spoken forgiveness but a continual forgiveness – not only of WHO WE WERE prior to coming to Christ, but what we do after we are His beloved children. It is the same word used in the next verse… “See that ye refuse not him that speaketh.” Both words are both now and continual.

        In like manner the child of God need not feel the horrible things you did Colleen if they truly know Him, even though they sin and need to acknowledge their sin before Him. One does not loose relationship with God. Such confession is only allowing us to walk together though we are related the whole time.

        “Two cannot walk together unless they are agreed”. Oneness is a truth spiritually but NOT always mentally and for now it is NEVER physically. That part of our redemption is still our HOPE (future expectation). If I sin it is no longer I, but my flesh. Again I mention a real life example from Acts – read it. Simon was born again yet had to pray for forgiveness (not to stay born again but to maintain fellowship). Acts 8:12-14.

      • Also, the passage in James 5:14,15 (clearly believers) are told that “…and if he has committed any sins they WILL BE forgiven him.” That clearly shows a believer who needs forgiveness NOT for SIN (singular, like a non-believer whose sin is to not believe into Christ) but SINS plural which NEED forgiving, and it says they WILL BE (future – NOT PAST). How does this fit into your understanding of 1Jn. 1:9?

      • James is not preaching works of confessing. He is talking about the sins we commit against each other. If I sin against you there is a relational hurt that needs to be mended. What’s the best way to mend it? Talk about it. Bring it into the light. Healing will result.

        For comments pertaining to 1 John 1:9, please see this post.

      • I agree he is NOT talking about confession but he IS talking about the need for a Christian to receive forgiveness AFTER salvation.

        I’m sorry you are wrong, this is about physical healing and the prayers of the elders over the sick. And if that sick person has committed any sins they will be forgiven. There is only ONE who can forgive sins. You are stretching to create a point in keeping with your belief. The obvious understanding of this verse is clear and needs no special work around.

        Verse 16 addresses confessing FAULTS (a much weaker word than sin which means a slip or side step and is used in reference to both God and man, but in this verse it is clearly in reference to a brother) and healing between brothers concerning which you are right, but verses 14, 15 are speaking of SINS being forgiven AFTER one has come to Christ AS THE RESULT of the elders praying. It may be hard to swallow, but it is scripture. The true test to respecting scripture’s authority is to agree even if you cannot understand or explain.

      • Healing is a manifestation of grace. Just as we don’t confess to get God to forgive us, neither do we need to confess to get God to heal us. All the blessings of God come to us through Jesus alone (Eph 1:8).

  8. Where is the place for restitution? I do not mind restitution. But when what is right about it and what is wrong about it, according to the word of God?

    • Jesus is the word of God, so I guess he’s the one to ask. Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers.” Paul said something similar: “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (Rom 12:18). By making restitution we are making peace – we are healing a hurt, righting a wrong, fixing an injustice. There are plenty of old covenant laws regarding restitution. We don’t need them to tell us that restitution is a good idea, something to pursue “if it is possible.” So if you can do it, great! If you can’t, don’t condemn yourself about it. And if you can’t tell the difference, ask your Father for wisdom (Jas 1:5).

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