What does the Bible say about confession and forgiveness?

Last updated on March 19, 2021

Kneel by the cross

“I know that if we confess our sins, God is willing to forgive us. But what happens if I die before I have confessed a particular sin? Will God forgive me?”

In general, sin must be acknowledged and confessed in order to be forgiven

Several testimonies from the Bible make clear that God uses His Word to convict us of our sins and sinfulness. The Holy Spirit opens our heart for the reality of our lives: That is how we find out how dirty of sin we really are. But the Holy Spirit also brings us to Jesus Christ to find forgiveness of all our sins in Him.

Nobody can confess every sin he or she has done. We easily forget many of our sins. We only create an hindrance when we deliberately refrain from confessing particular sins, in order to continue doing these sins. Don’t fear to confess all your sins! Read and reread 1 John 1:8-9: “If we say we have no sins, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to clean us from all unrighteousness.

Sin doesn’t change your position as a child of God

In order to answer this question for those who already receive forgiveness of their sins, let’s first list some Bible texts that provide some necessary background information. When you become a believer, a tremendous change in your relationship with God happens.

  • God adopts you as his child: “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God”, 1 John 3:1.
  • You used to be darkness, but now you are light: “For at one time you were darkness. But now you are light in the Lord”, Ephesians 5:18.
  • You used to be spiritually dead, but God made you alive. “God… even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ”, Ephesians 2:4,5.
  • You have become a member of the church, which is the body of Christ: “Now you are the body of Christ”, 1 Corinthians 12:27.
  • You have received forgiveness for all your sins: “Everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins through His name”, Acts 10:43.
  • You are God’s possession with a special position: “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood. A holy nation, a people for His own possession”, 1 Peter 2:9.
  • You have an eternally secure position as a sheep in Jesus’ care: “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. And no one will snatch them out of My hand”, John 10:28.

Does all of this change when we sin as believers? No, it still remains true. Does it change when we do not confess that sin before we die? No, it still remains true. These are all unconditional promises for God’s children, and descriptions of their position in God’s sight.

Confess your sins to God

Our position as a child of God has not changed. But the relationship has changed. A child can do something to make his parents angry or sad. But it does not mean he is not their child anymore. Yet he needs to confess and to better his life to repair his relationship with his parents. The same is true for God’s children. God’s love for you has not changed. You have not lost your salvation through sinning. But to be close to God again, to restore the relationship, you need to confess your sin and receive His forgiveness. Besides, when you are aware of a certain sin, why would you refrain from confessing it to God? Read Psalm 32 to find out how much hindrance it gave David, all the time he didn’t confess his sin with Bathsheba. We are called to confess our sins and break with them.

If you are a believer and you have unconfessed sins when you die, you will not end up in hell, but why would you leave these sins unconfessed? Don’t wait to confess them! Confessing your sins and receiving God’s forgiveness will help you to walk joyfully with the Lord every day of your life.

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