Why Should We Confess Sin if It Is Already Forgiven?

Why Should We Confess Sin if It Is Already Forgiven?

“When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross” (Colossians 2:13-14).

Why do we have to confess our sins if they are already forgiven? I have wondered this most of my life. If, as it states above, (on the basis of my faith in Christ) God has forgiven all my sins, canceled the charge or debt I owed and nailed it to the cross, why must I still constantly be confessing my sins? It’s finished. The legal proceedings are over and my debt has been canceled. Christ died for it on the cross, paying the wage for my sin (Romans 6:23) – past, present, and future. I’m forgiven and free! So, must believers continue to confess or admit their sins to God?

“…he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us” (Psalms 103:10-12).

Believers’ Sins Are Removed

According to Psalm 103 above, He has removed our transgressions (offenses against God) from us “as far as the east is from the west.” That is an immeasurable distance. In other words, my sins are gone – if I have, through faith, believed in Jesus and received His death on the cross as payment for my sins.

Believers Aren’t Perfect or Sinless

Even though believers have received Christ’s forgiveness as well as His righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21), we will sadly continue to sin occasionally as long as we are still in the flesh. Though as we learn to walk according to the Spirit rather than the flesh, selfish and sinful living will diminish. “So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16).

Despite our strivings to please God, we still continue to commit acts that “fall short” or “miss the mark” of God’s standard of holiness (which is moral perfection). We aren’t perfect, even after receiving forgiveness for our sins. I’ve never met a perfect Christian yet.

Christ Grants Life and Purification from Sin

The Apostle Paul penned these words: “But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness” (Romans 8:10).

If Christ is in us, the Spirit gives us life even though our fleshly desires are sinful. According to God’s Word, if we claim not to sin, we are lying. But if we confess our sins, Jesus will purify us from all our unrighteousness.

“If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us” (1 John 1:8-10).

Confess means to acknowledge or admit something; in this case, that we are guilty of breaking God’s law (found in the 10 Commandments and summed up in Matthew 22:37-40).

“Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness. But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin” (1 John 3:4-5).

 The following are a few reasons we should confess our sins even though we are forgiven:

- Confession keeps us aware of areas and patterns of sin and darkness still present in our lives.

- Confession reminds us that we are forgiven! We’re reminded each time we confess that Christ died for each and every sin. He literally paid for our sins with His life.

- Confession is purifying. King David prayed this prayer after he sinned with Bathsheba: “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me” (Psalms 51:10). Positionally, we are righteous because of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, but practically, our hearts can be impure and in need of renewal.

- Confession draws us close to God and keeps our fellowship with Him intimate.  “Come near to God and he will come near to you” (James 4:8). “If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth” (1 John 1:6).

Think of the parable of the prodigal son. He was the son of his father and nothing could change that relationship on a positional level, but his departure into darkness changed EVERYTHING on a practical level. And yet, when he finally returned and confessed his sin, he experienced a renewal of the relationship on that practical level.

“The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate” (Luke 15:21-24).

Just like in human relationships, nothing helps a relationship thrive quite like being willing to say, “I’m sorry. I was wrong. Please forgive me.” Only with God, we know the answer was already YES.

Photo credit: ©Getty Images/Boonyachoat

Kristi Walker has been a missionary in Berlin, Germany for over 19 years working with CrossWay International Baptist Church. She is the author of three books: Disappointment: A Subtle Path Away from ChristConvinced: Applying Biblical Principles to Life’s Choices, and Big Picture: 66 Books, 1 Message.