Question from a Site Viewer
Do Christians Need to Continually Confess Their Sins?
Where is any of Paul’s letters does he instruct us to confess our sins to God after we have been saved by grace? The cycle of sin, guilt, confession and forgiveness has been broken by the finished work of Jesus and we are now continually being washed by the blood of Jesus, no longer under condemnation but now in the law of liberty which enables us to desire to not sin. The curse of the law and its death has been abrogated by the finished work of Jesus. He first loved us and now we are free to love him.
Thank you for your email. You ask where Paul instructs us to confess our sins after we have been saved. As a student of Paul, you probably know that Paul never speaks in terms of confessing sins after we are saved. Nor does Paul ever instruct us to confess our sins before we are saved. Paul simply never teaches about confessing sins. Rather, in Paul’s writings, the stress is on confessing Christ (Romans 10:9-10; 14:11; 15:9; Philippians 2:11; 1 Timothy 1:16; 6:12-13).
But I think it would be error to conclude simply because Paul never speaks about confessing sins, either before or after salvation, that confession of sins is no longer a part of one’s approach to God. It has long been the practice of God’s people to confess their sins to God. This was part of the requirements of the law (Leviticus 5:5; Numbers 5:7), part of the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16:21), and it was the path toward restoration (Leviticus 26:40). David understood this (Psalm 32:5; 51:3). Nehemiah understood this (Nehemiah 1:6; 9:2). Daniel understood this (Daniel 9:5). Confession was part of the repentance of John the Baptist (Matthew 3:6). Peter certainly acknowledged his sin after his betrayal and he wept bitterly (Matthew 26:75). And John writes to believers and includes himself in the subject when he says in 1 John 1:9 that if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. The one who is not willing to admit or confess that they have sinned will make God to be a liar (1 John 1:8-10).
Certainly, I agree with you that Christ in His death and its application to our lives breaks the power of sin. None of us are slaves to sin any longer, unless we choose to sin. This is the teaching of Romans 6. I also agree that we are not under condemnation. But my new life is a relationship with God Himself. In my relationships in this world, when I offend another, I need to own up to my offense, to acknowledge it, and turn from it (Luke 17:3-4). If I never acknowledge what I did was wrong, I am likely to lose my relationships. Confession is a relational thing. And so it is with our God. As David in Psalm 32 so aptly describes, the one who covers their sin stands in the misery of a broken relationship. The one who acknowledges their sin opens the door to restoration of sweet fellowship.
If we do not say the same thing about sin as God does, which is what the word “confession” means, then how can we claim to have the mind of Christ? The one who follows Christ will say the same thing that God says about righteousness and about sin. So while I am delivered from the power of sin in my life, there are times when I do not love others as I know I ought. There are times when I am not busy about good works as Scripture calls me to do. There are times when I do not pray as I know I ought. There are times when I am a curse rather than a blessing to others. There are times when I am indifferent to the suffering of others. These are all matters of sin. I acknowledge them to be sin. I have no need to hide such sins, as they will be revealed one day (1 Timothy 5:24). But I also know that I have a Savior who is my Advocate, so my sin shall not condemn me, but will only highlight the grace of our great God towards me.
I trust this will help you as you think through these matters of faith.
In His service,