Confession of Sin
Argument: “I am forgiven already, by Christ’s work-I don’t need to confess any sin any longer. If I confess my sin, it is like saying I don’t believe Jesus paid the price for the sins I am already forgiven of. That itself, would be a sin!”
Response: On one hand, all believers understand that Christ has pain all debt in reference to our sins-past, present and future. This is called ‘justification’. On the other, we are called to be repentant towards the sin that remains in us. If Christ has paid all debt, and we are forgiven, why do we still need to confess our daily sins?
In 1 John, we read, ‘if we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us from the sin and cleanse us from all unrighteousness’.
Is the above a contradiction? If God has forgiven us all our sins in Christ, why would we need to confess-they’re already forgiven? I will address that a bit later here in this paper.
“Oh, what joy for those whose rebellion is forgiven, whose sin is put out of sight! Yes, what joy for those whose record the LORD has cleared of sin, whose lives are lived in complete honesty! When I refused to confess my sin, I was weak and miserable, and I groaned all day long. Day and night your hand of discipline was heavy on me. My strength evaporated like water in the summer heat. Finally I confessed all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide them. I said to myself, “I will confess my rebellion to the LORD .” And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone. Therefore, let all the godly confess their rebellion to you while there is time, that they may not drown in the floodwaters of judgment.” Psalm 32:1-6
“Have mercy on me, O God, because of your unfailing love. Because of your great compassion, blot out the stain of my sins. Wash me clean from my guilt. Purify me from my sin. For I recognize my shameful deeds — they haunt me day and night. Against you, and you alone, have I sinned; I have done what is evil in your sight. You will be proved right in what you say, and your judgment against me is just. For I was born a sinner — yes, from the moment my mother conceived me. But you desire honesty from the heart, so you can teach me to be wise in my inmost being. Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Oh, give me back my joy again; you have broken me — now let me rejoice. Don’t keep looking at my sins. Remove the stain of my guilt. Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a right spirit within me.” Psalm 51:1-10
So, why do we need to confess? It is commanded. One needs to understand the difference between judicial forgiveness and parenteral:
“- Judicial forgiveness deals with sin’s penalty — parental forgiveness deals with sin’s consequences.
– Judicial forgiveness frees us from the condemnation of the righteous, omniscient Judge whom we have wronged — parental forgiveness sets things right with a grieving and displeased but loving Father.
– Judicial forgiveness provides an unshakeable standing before the throne of divine judgment — parental forgiveness deals with the state of our sanctification at any given moment and is dispensed from a throne of divine grace. So the forgiveness Christians are supposed to seek in their daily walk is not pardon from an angry Judge, but mercy from a grieved Father.”
In Hebrews ch 12, we see that we are sons; we see that God ‘chastens’ sinning sons. If we are forgiven in Christ, why then does God still chasten us for sins that have already been forgiven? This would seem a bit hypocritical of God, no? This shows that even since we are forgiven, there remains repercussion to sins we commit. Even though, in the absolute sense or compound, we are forgiven, we still reap the repercussion of sin we commit.
One needs to understand that God’s justice and God’s love are not one and the same. Yes, we are forgiven-this is the justice of God; God wants His sons to be repentant over remaining sin in us-this is where confession comes in.
So, on one hand, God doesn’t hold our sins against us-this has to do with the justifying work of Christ, on the other hand, God does hold personal sins against us in a divided sense because He chastens us for them. This is the sanctifying rod of God in the believers walk. Confession of sin is a reflection of a repentant heart towards God. Repenting and confession does not mean God will not chasten us, however; the chastening is the straightening out of that which is crooked.
To hold to a position that our sins are forgiven and that no repentance or confession is not needed is only seeing the trees and not the forest. You have theologically disregarded a larger scope and picture and are collapsing two biblical precedence’s. The distinction between parenteral and judicial needs to be considered separately.
For I confess my iniquity; I am full of anxiety because of my sin.
He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, But he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion.
‘If they confess their iniquity and the iniquity of their forefathers, in their unfaithfulness which they committed against Me, and also in their acting with hostility against Me—
One can see the practical examples where God’s people confess sins.
*Kenneth Copeland writes:
“The way back to fellowship with our heavenly Father is through the blood of Jesus. First John 1:9 says, “But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.” Your Father God loves you very much, and He has great things in store for your life. The Bible says the plans God has for you are for good and not evil, and they lead to the hope of a bright future (Jeremiah 29:11)!
Not only does God want you to succeed, but He also offers His grace (supernatural empowerment) to enable you to live a holy life (1 Corinthians 10:13; 2 Corinthians 12:9). Sometimes the pressures of life might seem to overwhelm you. In those times, understand that you have the ability to turn your heart toward God and ask for His help. Hebrews 4:16 says, “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”
Jesus is seated at the right hand of the Father interceding for you—regardless of what you have done. Part of His ministry is being your advocate or lawyer before the Father (1 John 2:1). He pleads your case, offering His blood as a cleansing agent for any and all your sins. As a child of God, you can confess your sins to Him who is faithful and just to forgive your sins and cleanse you from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9)! You can do this simply by saying a prayer like the following from your heart:
Father, I sinned against You, and right now I choose to turn away from that sin and leave it behind me. I ask Your forgiveness for all my sin, and by faith I receive cleansing from it by the blood of Jesus. I receive Your empowerment to live a holy life right now. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!
The Bible says God remembers your sins and iniquities no more (Hebrews 10:17). Don’t be moved by your feelings if you don’t “feel” forgiven. Your feelings are not the determining factor—God’s Word is. And God does not lie. He keeps His Word, and His Word says you’re forgiven!”
* I do not agree with Copeland’s theology; in fact, in my humble opinion, it is aberrant. I only use Copeland here secondarily to the fact that this idea of confession comes out of the ‘Name it and claim it’, Health and Wealth gospel proponents. I wanted to show that even Copeland gets this part correct.
Consider the compound and divided truths of scripture:
We are commanded to pray! Why pray, God is omniscient and knows what we are thinking before we ever state anything (Psalm 139:4). We are commanded to pray, even in light of this fact. Jesus tells us how to pray and He knew well that the Father was omniscient and yet, He tells us to pray.
God is not the author of confusion, right? (1 Cor 14:33) Yet, He is! (Gen 11:1-9).
We are called to fight the fight, run the race, resist the devil and he will flee (James 4:7). This is part of our sanctification; it is the preceptive will of God! Yet in the compound sense, it is God who works in you to do and to will (Phil 2:13); it is He who has begun the work and it is He who will take our sanctification and complete it (Phil 1:6); this is the decretive will of God. Preceptive and decretive! You cannot separate these two ideas.
The point I am making here is that to discredit one part of the decree of God, neglecting the decree of precept, you will always fall into error. Here’s a few more:
Does God repent? The scriptures tell us:
Num 23:19 “God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent; Has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?
Exod 32:14 And the Lord repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people.
In the decretive, God never repents; in the preceptive, He does at times. Consider the Empire state building. You are standing at the doorway of the building looking upward. You can barely see the top. This is the divided sense. Go on a helicopter ride and the building takes on a whole different vista, yet, it is the same building. This is the compound sense. It is a fuller view. The same can be said of sin and confessing.
The point is, when we consider confessing sin, in the compound sense, judicially, we are forgiven, past, present and future, already; in the divided sense, We are commanded to confess sin; think of it as prayer. God knows our prayers before we pray, yet, we pray still. The same can be said of confession-we are already forgiven, but since we are commanded to confess, we confess.
Justification is not sanctification and sanctification is not justification-make the needed distinction:
Justification doesn’t mean :
(a ) That God is not in some sense displeased when we sin (e.g. II Sam. 11:27)
(b) That we can stop confessing our sins and seeking renewed forgiveness, cleansing, repentance and new obedience. (e.g. John 13:10) throughout our lives.
(c) That so-called “little sins” can’t turn into “big sins” that can be disastrous for our profession of faith and also our lives, and therefore they need to be nipped in the bud. (e.g. I Corinthians 5:6).
(d) That – although God will never take His Holy Spirit from dwelling in a justified sinner – He can and may remove His felt presence, usually because of sin.(e.g. Psalm 51:11)
(e) That we may be chastised by God for various sins (e.g. Heb. 12:7) by various troubles, or we may experience trouble from God’s hand, not because of any particular sin(s) but to improve the quality of our faith, love and hope and hone us to further perfection and maturity, like already pure gold being purified further (e.g. Job 1:1; 40: 3-5; 42:5-6).
(f) That we may not sometimes or often lack assurance that we justified, adopted and are being sanctified.
The Lord’s Prayer:
Then we have the model prayer of Christ; Christ taught us to pray and in this direction He Himself tells us to confess our sins:
“And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors”.
Confession of sin is not predicated on the idea that when we confess sin, the sin is forgiven at that time; what we are doing is we are agreeing with God that these sins displease Him and we dislike the fact that we missed the mark.
Thomas Watson writes on the portion of the Lord’s prayer:
“When I say, God forgives all sins, I understand it of sins past, for sins to come are not forgiven till they are repented of. Indeed God has decreed to pardon them; and when he forgives one sin, he will in time forgive all; but sins future are not actually pardoned till they are repented of. It is absurd to think sin should be forgiven before it is committed.
If all sins past and to come are at once forgiven, then what need to pray for the pardon of sin? It is a vain thing to pray for the pardon of that which is already forgiven. The opinion that sins to come, as well as past, are forgiven, takes away and makes void Christ’s intercession. He is an advocate to intercede for daily sins. 1 John 2: 1. But if sin be forgiven before it be committed, what need is there of his daily intercession? What need have I of an advocate, if sin be pardoned before it be committed? So that, though God forgives all sins past to a believer, yet sins to come are not forgiven till repentance be renewed.
“And this may comfort us in the consideration of all our sins; for sin past, and for corruption present, and sin that we may commit for time to come. For any thing that is past, if we confess our sins to God, he will forgive them. ‘The blood of Christ cleanseth us from all sins,’ 1 John i. 7, even from the present corruptions that attend on us. We have one that stands between God and us as a surety; and he will give us his Spirit to subdue our corruptions, and at length to make us like himself, a glorious spouse, Eph. v. 27. If we were perfect men, we need not a mediator; and this may teach us comfort, rather because we are sinners, and daily subject to offend God. We have one to make our peace for time to come; if we sin, we have an advocate, 1 John ii. 1. When Christ taught us to pray, ‘Forgive us our daily trespasses,’ he supposed we should run daily into sins, Mat. vi. 12. We have an advocate in heaven every day to stand between God and us, to answer God, to undertake that at length we should cease to offend him; and for the present, we are such as he shed his precious blood for; and he appeareth for us by virtue of his death, which is a marvellous comfort. We think if we commit sin there is no hope. But what needs a mediator, but to make peace between the parties disagreeing? If all things we made up between God and us, what need of an intercessor? But God knoweth well enough we run into daily sins, by reason of a spring of corruption in us, which is never idle. And therefore we may daily go to God in the name of our advocate, and desire God for Christ’s sake to pardon, and desire Christ to intercede for us. Let us therefore shame ourselves.”
Lastly, the scriptures tell us that if we reject the notion that we have sin or we still commit sins, the truth is not in us. If we do acknowledge we have sinned, given that God already knows and has forgiven those sins in Christ Jesus, wouldn’t it make sense that confessing the sin is a sign of sanctification and thankfulness towards God that you hate the sin you have committed?
It is not an assault on any theological doctrine to confess sin; the church at large over 2k years has subscribed to confession; if it was such an error, being that the church is the ‘great cloud of witnesses’ spoken of in the book of Hebrews, that being that they are the bride, the bride that died for his wife, the Holy Spirit would have sifted away the chaff of this error over the two thousand years. Yet, he hasn’t. In fact, he has protected this doctrine!