The truth about confession and repentance

Dalton Blankenship

At the moment of salvation, we claim the forgiveness of Jesus by admitting that we are sinners and asking Him to change us.

That process, confession and repentance, is familiar to many of us. It can take on many forms, whether it’s responding to an altar call or invitation, or saying the “sinner’s prayer.”

When we are “born again,” we are made right with God once and for all: All our sins are forgiven, past, present and future. God doesn’t remember them anymore, whether or not we confess each one (Psalms 103:12).  When we become a Christian, we belong to the family of God, and our place as God’s child is secure and everlasting (John 10:28-29).

But, that doesn’t mean confession and repentance stops there.

Why Confession and Repentance Matter

We confess and repent because God wants us to be in continual, intimate relationship with Him.

Though nothing can separate us from God’s love (Romans 8:38-39), refusing to admit sin and to change will damage the relationship just like refusal to admit we’re wrong damages our human relationships.

Without regular confession and repentance, we are still a part of the family of God, but we won’t enjoy the benefits.

Confession is more than, “Whoops! My bad!” And repentance is more than, “I’ll try not to do it again.” True confession is admitting we have sinned against God Himself, and His holy standard. True repentance is seeing the destructiveness of sin — to our own lives and those around us, as well as to our friendship with God — and changing the way we think and behave.

Heartfelt confession and repentance says, “This is MY sin, and I will do everything I can to make this area of my life obedient to Jesus.” Anyone can confess, but only a believer changes. 

5 Reasons To Confess And Repent

1 John 1:6-9 is one of the best explanations in the Bible for why we should take confession and repentance seriously:

“If we claim to have fellowship with God and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. 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. 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” (1 John 1:6-9).

Confession and repentance does five things in the life of a Christian:

1. It causes us to acknowledge before God that we know and take responsibility for our sin.

2. It proves that we are not trying to hide our sin from God, others, or ourselves. It humbles us.

3. It shows that we are asking for and relying on God’s strength to help us change.

4. It allows us to be continually healed.

5. And most importantly, confession and repentance sustain our loving relationship with God.

Once we have a relationship with Jesus, we don't NEED to confess and repent for each sin in order to obtain forgiveness. But doing so is the best way to please God and become who Jesus wants us to be.

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