Confession Of Our Sins


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Confession of sins refers to saying the same thing to God and sometimes to others that He says about our evil actions. It is admitting wrongness in our thoughts, words, feelings and/or actions.

Confession of sins means to agree with God in His evaluation of our wrongs.


The relevant Greek word


The word used in the original Greek New Testament for “confession” in relation to sins is “homologeo”. Bauer says “homologeo” means “confess, in judicial language make a confession…acknowledge”. [1] Vine says “homologeo” means “to speak the same thing (homos ‘same’, lego ‘to speak’), to assent, accord, agree with…” [2] In New Testament times, the word “homologeo” was used in the legal system to refer to acknowledging guilt before a court. Therefore, confession of our sins involves admitting the wrongness of our specific actions and resulting guilt before God the Supreme Ruler and Judge.




Confession of our sins to God involves freely admitting we are guilty of various wrongs. Confession of our sins is based on the underlying assumption all wrongs, even those against other people, are against God also. This is why after committing adultery with Bathsheba and murdering her husband, David said in Psalm 51:4: “Against You, You only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Your sight - that You may be found just when You speak, and blameless when You judge.”


Confession and being justified


We are not initially declared righteous or justified by God at the time of our conversion by a perfect confession to Him of every one of our specific sins. It would be impossible for any person at conversion to know every sin they had previously committed against Him. Most new converts would have thousands or even millions of previous individual sins to confess if justification was conditioned on a perfect confession of their sins. Romans 14:23 says whatever is not based on faith is sin. Therefore think, for example, of how many thousands or millions of actions you did prior to being converted which were not based on faith in God. There are also multitudes of other types of sin. Can you remember all these sins?

Also note that after conversion we do not remain justified or declared righteous in Christ by a perfect confession to God of every one of our sins. If our justification was based on a perfect confession of every sin, no person would ever be justified by God. This is because all humans often fall into sins hidden from their own awareness. Refer to Chapter         “Deliberate known and unintentional sin” for more details. Also, sin can be described as anything in which we are not manifesting Jesus’ character to the degree limited created beings are able. Only God would be able to determine perfectly those multitude of things in which we are unlike Christ. No human would ever be aware of every aspect of sin in their lives.

Actually there is nowhere in the New Testament which insists on confession of our sins at conversion. But note people who repent and turn in their hearts from their sins to God at conversion are indirectly confessing their sins.

The main reason believers need to confess their sins after conversion is to ensure the deceitfulness of sin does not harden their hearts against God and result in unbelief in Him (see Hebrews 3:12-14).


Other aspects of confessing our sins


1 John 1:9 teaches that New Testament believers should confess their known sins to God: “If confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” God promises here to forgive us of our confessed sins. We must not doubt this promise of God. This forgiveness is based solely on Jesus’ death, as Ephesians 1:7 reveals: “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.”

Confession of our sins must be linked to stop doing these sins. It is useless telling God that our actions are wrong and then by our following actions show to Him we really believe our wrong actions are right for us. Such confession of sin is mere hypocrisy. Our words are contradicted by our actions. Our actions reveal our real heart attitudes.

Proverbs 28:13 shows confession of sin must be accompanied by abandoning the same sins: “He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.”

Acts 19:18-20 shows that a sincere abandoning of our sins and accompanying confession can result in drastic lifestyle changes: “And many who had believed came confessing and telling their deeds. Also, many of those who had practiced magic brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted up the value of them, and it totaled fifty thousand pieces of silver. So the word of the Lord grew mightily and prevailed.”

Confession of sin can include a general prayer like David prayed in Psalm 19:12, “Cleanse me from secret faults”. David was here referring to his unintentional hidden sins. But mostly, confession involves mentioning specific known sins.

Confession of our sins is done directly to God (see Luke 18:13), but it can be done indirectly through confession to others (see James 5:16). Some wrongly believe confession is only effective if done through a priest. But 1 Peter 2:5, 2:9 and Revelation 1:6 reveal all believers are priests.

If our confession is done to others, we need to be careful about what is confessed to them. This is because some confessions do more harm than good. For example, it would not be advisable for a man tempted by lust thoughts to confess to a woman in his church he has been fighting the temptation to lust after her.

Confession of sins results in the wonderful workings of the Holy Spirit when confession is done in agreement with God’s Word.


Bible Study Questions


1.         What does confessing our sins mean?

2.         Are we initially justified at conversion by a perfect confession of our sins?

3.         Do we remain justified after conversion by a perfect confession of every one of our sins?

4.         What does 1 John 1:9 promise?

5.         If we just confess our sins but do not stop doing these sins, we are acting like hypocrites. What does Proverbs 28:13 reveal about this matter?


[1] Bauer, page 568.

[2] Vine, page 120.

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