The word of God in Romans 3:23 tells us that, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”. Sin separates us from God and is an obstacle that prevents us from living in complete union with the Holy Spirit.
The will of God is for us to live in oneness with Him, as we accept Christ as our atoning sacrifice who cleanses us from all unrighteousness.
What is confession according to the Bible?
The Bible looks at confession from two different perspectives. The first one is to declare or profess what and who you believe in. The second has to do with approaching the Lord or a person and acknowledging that you have done something wrong.
The two types of confession are important for the admission of sin according to the Bible. The English Standard Version of Romans 10:10 states that, “For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved”.
How do you confess your sins in the Bible?
In order to confess your sins, you have to first acknowledge that you have actually offended the Lord or someone else. You then need to approach God with humility, a contrite heart, and a broken spirit, and seek God’s forgiveness.
If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. ⁹ If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. I John 1:8-9 NIV
If you do not acknowledge or accept that you have done something wrong you will more than likely have no need for confession. This text points out the reason and consequence of not acknowledging sin. You first need the truth of God to be your guide and the Holy Spirit to convict you.
As children of God when we accept His truth and use it as a guide, He will shine His light on us and will impress on us the need to seek forgiveness when we have gone astray.
When we seek reconciliation, we can be confident knowing that the Lord is faithful and just and that He will cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.” And you forgave the guilt of my sin. Psalm 32:5 NIV
We cannot hide from our sins and we cannot hide them from God. The Lord is all knowing, so to pretend that we didn’t do anything wrong is to tell ourselves a lie. Satan wants us to do this because he is the father of lies.
This Psalm of David also highlights the importance of acknowledging our wrongdoings. When we openly take our transgressions to the Lord and place them at His feet, He forgives our guilt.
“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ ¹⁴ “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” Luke 18:13-14 NIV
In the New Testament book of Luke, the story is told of two men who went to pray. One was self-righteous and the other was humble.
In the spirit of humility, the tax collector admitted that he was a sinner in need of God’s mercy. When we approach the mercy seat of God we should do so in humility.
When we humble ourselves before the Lord, we will receive justification and He will exalt us.
For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, 1 Timothy 2:5 NIV
While it is important for us to confess to each other, be merciful to each other, and live peaceably with each other, we do not have the authority to forgive or justify the sins of each other.
Only the Lord Jesus can mediate between us and God. It is His blood that was offered as an atoning sacrifice for our sins and through Him we receive righteousness by faith.
If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. ¹⁰ For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. Rom. 10:9-10 NIV
The word of God says that we have to believe in and profess the name of Jesus Christ in order to be saved. This was a requirement for the members of the early church after the ascension of Christ and it is still very relevant today.
This is so because without the son of God there can be no remission of sins.
How to confess directly to God
In order to confess your sins directly to God you need to submit to Him, be repentant, be humble, seek Him in prayer, and embrace His mercy.
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. ⁸ Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. ⁹ Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. ¹⁰ Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. James 4:7-10 NIV
Christian life is focused on having an intimate relationship with God. Being boastful, arrogant, and filled with pride are lusts of the flesh that attract attention to ourselves and takes the glory from God.
God wants us to resist such selfish attitudes, submit to Him and His will, and be humble as we approach Him. When we humble ourselves like little children before the Lord, He will lift us up.
Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, Acts 3:19 NIV
Going directly to God to request forgiveness means you need to turn away from what you did wrong and return to Him with a repentant heart. Only after doing this will your sins be wiped away and renewal take place.
if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14 NIV
Humility and prayer go hand in hand if you wish to confess directly to the Lord. Prayer is the means to which you will communicate your feelings and express your hearts desires to Him.
The awesome God we serve will hear your humble petitions, He will forgive you, and bring restoration to your life.
It is written: “‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me; every tongue will acknowledge God.’” Romans 14:11 NIV
This is another text that illustrates how you should go directly to God. It states that every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess to God. Again, bowing before God is not just indicative of bended knees but also a state of humility and contrition.
When Simon saw that the Spirit was given at the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money ¹⁹ and said, “Give me also this ability so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” ²⁰ Peter answered: “May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money! ²¹ You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God. ²² Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord in the hope that he may forgive you for having such a thought in your heart. ²³ For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin.” ²⁴ Then Simon answered, “Pray to the Lord for me so that nothing you have said may happen to me.” Acts 8:18-24 NIV
This story in the book of Acts also highlights repentance and prayer as very important components when going directly to God. When the Holy Ghost convicts us of the wrongs we have done, we in turn have a guilty conscience.
We then repent and pray to the Lord so that we may no longer be slaves of sin but through the work of the Holy Spirit and forgiveness we may walk in newness of light.
Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:16 NIV
When you go to God directly to confess your sins and seek forgiveness you must do so with conviction of faith. The King James Version says that you should, “come boldly unto the throne of grace”.
This is not a reference to pride, arrogance, or self-righteousness but speaks about having faith that the grace of Christ is sufficient enough to cleanse you.
But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the paralyzed man, “Get up, take your mat and go home.” ⁷ Then the man got up and went home. ⁸ When the crowd saw this, they were filled with awe; and they praised God, who had given such authority to man. Matthew 9:6-8 NIV
Jesus used this miracle to remind His followers that He was given authority by God to forgive sins. In the Old Testament a sacrifice was taken to the high priest who offered it as a sin offering to God.
When Jesus died on the cross, He became our High Priest and our atoning sacrifice that redeems us from sin.
But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. ²³ For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:22-23 NIV
This text helps us to be mindful of how we are to approach God in confession and the benefits we will reap.
When we repent and are forgiven. We will be children of God instead of captives of sin and through Jesus-the gift of God, we will receive eternal salvation.
How to confess to others?
It is important to confess to others in order to enjoy fellowship and unity. Pardon and mercy are very important components of Christian life especially when it comes to the matter of confession.
And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. Matthew 6:12 NIV
In Matthew 6:9-13 Jesus not only left us an example of how to pray but also highlighted how important it is for us to confess to each other and have mercy on each other.
If it is that we refuse to extend mercy to others we are failing to meet a condition to receive God’s forgiveness. The Lord will forgive us of our trespasses when we forgive those who trespass against us.
“If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them. ⁴ Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them.” Luke 17:3-4 NIV
This verse outlines what you should do if someone has offended you. The reverse of this is also true. If you have offended others you should go to them with a contrite heart, confess, and seek their mercy.
The beauty about this text is that there is no limit to the number of times you should confess and seek the mercy of others. In the same light there is no limit to how merciful you should be for the sins of others.
“At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ ²⁷ The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go. Matthew 18:26-27 NIV
This parable provides a beautiful explanation of how mercy and forgiveness work in the kingdom of heaven. We should confess to others because we would like them to do the same with and for us. We should also be merciful because we too want to receive mercy.
In the end of the story the first servant who received mercy lost it because he refused to extend mercy to others. The lesson for us is that we should approach God and others in confession with the spirit of mercy and forgiveness.
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. James 5:16 NIV
God’s word not only tells how to confess to others but also gives the reason why.
Confession allows us to access spiritual healing and restores the relationship we have with others. It allows us to enjoy unity in the body of Christ as brothers and sisters and experience atonement with God.
There is great power in prayer. The King James Version of this text reminds us that, “the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much”. Confession and forgiveness of sins are needed for healing and restoration to take place.
Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy. Proverbs 28:13 NIV
This text is an encouragement to confess and renounce sin in order to find mercy. 1 Timothy 6:12 also supports this view saying, “Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses”.
Public confession of your faith and renouncing sin are very vital to receiving forgiveness, finding mercy, and gaining eternal life.
But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. 1 John 1:7 NIV
This text not only identifies who we are but whose we are when we live in fellowship in the family of God. As children of light, we should have no difficulty in confessing wrongs to each other and extending great compassion to others.
We seek the mercy of others because we know the blood of Christ cleanses us from all sins.
In order to confess our sins, we first need to have an understanding of what confession means. We have to know how to confess sins according to the Bible, how to confess to God directly, and how to confess to others in order to receive mercy and forgiveness from the Lord.