Biblical confession is about acknowledging that we’re wrong and God is right. Without confession, there is no forgiveness or cleansing of sin.
With godly sorrow comes confession and confession leads to true repentance. Our key scripture is found in 1 John 1:9 it says:
If we confess our sins to him [God], he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins to cleanse us from all wickedness (1 John 1:9 NLT).
What is a biblical confession?
The word confess doesn’t necessarily mean to speak aloud our sins. God is not talking about a verbal confession likened to a suspect and two police officers. No, the word “confess” in the Greek text is defined as:
Acknowledgment and Agreement (G3670 – Strong’s Greek Dictionary).
So in other words, we need to acknowledge our sin and agree with God that he’s right and we’re wrong.
It’s not just saying, “I’m sorry.”
Just saying “I’m sorry” is not enough, we must acknowledge and agree with God in our hearts; this is an acceptable confession, and it comes with true repentance. An example would be saying, “I lied. Lying is a sin against God, and I was in sin to lie to you…”
There is no room for blame-shifting
When you confess your sins to a person you’ve offended, you shouldn’t bring up the other parties behavior and faults. Confession is about what you did—just state your own fault and rest.
Pride prevents men from confessing their sins to God and especially to man. Confession is to be made to God. Without confession, there is no forgiveness and cleansing from God.
Confession must be coupled with repentance
Many have verbally confessed but didn’t change their minds—never having a moral conviction—thus never changing their behavior.
Some people decide to change their behavior but never confess their sin to those they’ve offended. Here’s an example: A wealthy family empire or ministry built on exploitation and oppression later turns benevolent. While they’ve changed their ways, they haven’t made restitution for their past sins nor confessed them—they don’t get a pass with God.
Confession must be made to people you’ve hurt/offended
Contrary to what the Catholic Church teaches, you don’t need a mediating priest to confess your sins, the sacrifice of Jesus tore down the wall between God and man. You can now go directly to God the Father through his Son.
Everyone offends God when they sin; whether they cursed the heavens or mistreated their neighbor, God was still offended. David acknowledged this fact in Psalm 51.
God is the first we must confess to and the second person or group is those we’ve offended. The Bible commands:
“Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results” (James 5:16 NLT).
Obeying this command keeps the Church healthy both spiritually and physically. Overall, we must confess our sins to God and privately to those we’ve hurt whether they are our brothers or not. Who knows, our humble confession to a non-believer could win them to Christ.
Remember, without true confession, there is no forgiveness and cleansing for your sins. Obviously, confession is not a one-time thing, you are to confess every time you trespass against God.