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Bible Question

Do we need to confess our sins to God in order to be forgiven?


No, confessing our sins to God does not bring about His forgiveness and is a misconception and heresy. If confession alone sufficed, Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross would have been unnecessary. The Old Testament animal sacrifices would have been redundant if the Israelites could achieve forgiveness merely through confession.

A crucial verse to understand this concept is Hebrews 9:22:

“In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.”

It is the blood of Jesus that removes our sins, not our confession. Jesus’ sacrifice was the ultimate sacrifice for sins. Forgiveness requires the shedding of blood, not merely expressing apologies to God.

What is Confession?

To confess means to agree or admit something. When we sin, we should acknowledge that the sin was wrong. This acknowledgment is the first step towards changing our mindset. Sin harms others and opposes love. Confession is the starting point for the renewal of our minds, helping us grow in grace and discern that “everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial” (1 Corinthians 10:23).

An Obsession With Confession for Forgiveness

Many seminaries teach the heresy that confession is necessary for forgiveness. However, there is a significant difference between confessing sins to God and confessing sins to obtain forgiveness. Believing that confession alone brings forgiveness undermines Jesus’ sacrifice, effectively “trampling the Son of God underfoot” and insulting the Spirit of grace (Hebrews 10:29).

Keep on Reading

Pastors often cite three verses to argue that confession is necessary for forgiveness:

  1. Matthew 6:12 – “And forgive us our debts, as we have forgiven our debtors.”
    • This verse is part of the “Lord’s Prayer,” given to the disciples before Jesus’ crucifixion and thus still under the Law of Moses. True forgiveness, as granted by Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, is unconditional and not based on our actions.
  2. James 5:16 – “Therefore, confess your sins to one another.”
    • This verse emphasizes confessing sins to one another for reconciliation, not to God for forgiveness.
  3. 1 John 1:9 – “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..”
    • This verse addresses Gnostic unbelievers who denied their sinfulness. It is often misinterpreted as a mandate for Christians to confess every sin to receive forgiveness. God’s forgiveness is complete and final through Jesus’ sacrifice.


In summary, understanding the full context of scripture is essential. Forgiveness is granted through Jesus’ sacrificial blood, not through our confessions (Hebrews 4:9-11).

For a more detailed look at 1 John 1:9, check out What Does 1 John 1:9 Mean?


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