Confessing Sin

Text: 1 John 1:9

Confessing sin is important because it is tied to our salvation. Forgiveness & cleansing are conditioned upon us making confession to God of our sins. So in this lesson, we will spend some time looking at what the Bible says about confessing sins.

Confess to Whom?

  • To God (1 John 1:9) – it is not because He does not already know (Genesis 3:8-11); one who will be justified through prayer is one who acknowledges his sin (Luke 18:10-14)
  • To others (James 5:16) – this is to obtain help (“pray for one another“); also to be forgiven if we have sinned against someone
  • We will always need to make confession to God (1 John 1:9) – confession to others involves certain considerations [more on this point later]

What is Necessary for Confession?

  • Sin – we cannot confess to something we have not done
  • Awareness of sin – requires knowledge of God’s law (1 John 3:4) & self-awareness of our own failings (2 Samuel 12:5-7)
  • Humility – necessary to admit our sin to God (Psalm 51:1-4, 17); necessary when we admit sin to others (then it is confession and not bragging)
  • Understanding of the severity of sin – we must know how bad sin is so we will be motivated to correct it
  • Courage – in confessing sins to others because there is a chance they will unfairly judge us (Romans 2:1) or refuse to forgive us (Luke 17:3-4); we cannot control what others do, we must simply do the right thing

Private Sins

  • Confess to God? … yes (1 John 1:9)
  • Confess to others? … maybe – not for every specific transgression (Matthew 18:15-17 – not every sin needs to be made public to be resolved); but can be done if there are specific troubles we need help with (James 5:16; Galatians 6:2)

Personal Sins

  • Confess to God? … yes (1 John 1:9)
  • Confess to others? … yes – to the offended brother (Matthew 5:23-24); give the brother you wronged the opportunity to forgive you (Luke 17:3-4)

Public Sins

  • Confess to God? … yes (1 John 1:9)
  • Confess to others? … yes – so they no longer need to consider discipline (1 Corinthians 5:1-5); so they can help you (Galatians 6:1-2); so they can vouch for you that you have repented; so they will know that any accusation is an old problem already dealt with & not a new one


  • Confession of sins is an important part of a Christian’s life
  • Provides forgiveness from God & help from our brethren – there is no reason to ignore it

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