A short answer on “confession of sins” and “forgiveness of sins”:
Our sins have all been paid for by Christ’s death–past, present, future and we are now seated in heavenly places in Christ (Ephesians 2). That is a POSITIONAL, eternal guarantee of never needing any more of anything to PAY that debt and have this position.
The longer answer…
However, the problem is that we are still down here on earth and drag around an old man who can get us in a lot of trouble (he can’t get us out of Christ down here because we are sealed by the Holy Spirit until the day God redeems this flesh. ( Romans 8; Ephesians 4:30). Because of this many try to deal with this problem and pull anything they find to answer it. Of course without right division, there is confusion and error.
When we sin NOW, after being saved, we are walking according to the flesh. We are acting just like the old man before we were saved and sealed. The old man (what the Bible also calls “the flesh”) is running the show.
Ephesians 2 gives us our eternal security question answer. Ephesians 4 gives us our what happens when we sin AFTER salvation question, which sin is more often and other than most people think!!
Ephesians 4 says “put off the old man” and “put on the new man”. How do you do that? Reading the chapter makes it clear that we must do this not only daily but continually. IT IS NOT GETTING OR KEEPING SALVATION BECAUSE IF THAT IS SO–ALL THE OTHER SAID IN EPHESIANS 2 IS A LIE AND CHRIST’S WORK WAS IMPERFECT TO SAVE AND THE HOLY SPIRIT’S WORK OF SEALING UNTO THE DAY OF THE BODY REDEMPTION IS WEAK.
Putting off the old man and putting on the new man–the NEED and RESULTS are described in detail in Ephesians 4 but details on HOW are broadly given. Why? I think because men are not the same in many ways although they are in others. For me, I may need to pray for one hour to get done what you only need to pray for 10 minutes. I may need to read many verses and pray, meditate, seek, plead, whatever for some time before I can have confidence my attitude and action is right. Does this involve asking God to forgive you for disobedience? YES. Does it mean that if you do not do it, you are lost? NO. Scripture forbids us in this age of Grace to think our prayers and works of righteousness save us in addition to Christ’s work and Righteousness. (Titus 3:5). In other ages a man’s faith was his righteousness (Hab 2:4) and required for salvation because he was not sealed by the Spirit and he was only under the blood of bulls and goats. Romans 11:5-6 is clear that salvation is NO MORE of works, which is a good indication it WAS OF WORKS in the past. And, indeed when you read the passages regarding those times, faith with works were required. God tells us in Eph 2:8-9 that salvation in “NOT OF WORKS” in Romans 11:6 “NO MORE OF WORKS” and Titus 3:5 “NOT BY WORKS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS”. Praying, living right, going to church, etc., etc., are WORKS of righteousness.
For ALL MEN, idolatry, lying, adultery, murder, etc are sin but for other men sin can be as “insignificant” as eating and what is one man’s sin may not be another’s! (Romans 14:22-23). Anything not done in faith is sin. To whom much is given, much is required.
The problem with the word “confession” is that in the Bible context, “confession” requires not only a saying, “I have sinned” but also requires a restitution and some offering to complete it. Confession is a very technical term under the Law that requires faith plus a work or works.
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9). The passage is written by John who was a minister of the circumcision (Acts 15; Gal 2). His letters therefore fit with that doctrine BEFORE Paul’s revelation of grace in the Acts period as well as the Tribulation Period. (Hebrews. James, John, and Peter’s writings are after Paul’s books ;Romans thru Philemon, the Church Age epistles, in the KJB because they will be the doctrine for the Tribulation saints after the rapture when the Body of Christ is no longer on earth.)
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” ( 1 John 1:9)
Other verses fit the Tribulation period under the world domination all under the program of the Beast:
“15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.
17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.” (1 John 2:15-17). (For another dispensational difference cf John 3:16 with 1 John 2:15-17. Those who rejected the gospel of grace in the Church Age do not get another chance in Trib to be saved. They might try to claim John 3:16 but just because it is in the Bible does not mean it is to them. (See 2Thess 2: 8-ff.) John 3:16 is no longer TO them.
Back to the subject of confession.
You see a careful reading says confession of sins does not only forgive sins but ACTUALLY CLEANSES UNRIGHTEOUSNESS! The verse includes not only “fellowship” but RELATIONSHIP. This is different from what you read in Romans through Philemon. (doctrine to the age of Grace). I know that many do not know this and that they don’t mean that their work is equal to God’s work on the cross. But the Bible is a very precise book and God calls teachers to keep practice correct. I can only hope that I am one of those and only God will prove me to be so.
The verse only covers remembered sins, specific acts, and requires specific action of restitution. It does not cover all disobedience. Actually, it is a Kingdom doctrine intended for the period covered in Hebrews-Revelation.
If a man uses this 1 John passage in a simple PRACTICAL but NOT DOCTRINAL sense, that is– he knows that Christ paid it all and that he is eternally secure, seated in heavenly places, a member of the body of Christ and can not be separated from Him by himself or any other creature (Romans 8) and is asking God to forgive him: that is–to learn from this sin, help him do it no more and avoid the instances that led up to such, putting off the old man and putting on the new man, being a better Christian– I have no difference with him other than to say he needs to go further in his Bible study and depend upon the plain scripture statements made to this present age. But if he is “confessing” IN ORDER TO REMAIN SAVED, then he is not only “confessing” his sin but he is confessing that the work of Christ and the Holy Spirit are all in vain, God’s grace is a farce, and the word of God is full of mistakes and errors, a book of men with no power at all and that his actions are as good as God’s.
The only “confession” a child of God in the age of Grace makes is of the Lord Jesus Christ:
“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” (Romans 10:9)
And, of course the KEY to understanding what we are and where we are in this present age is found in the Apostle to the Gentiles ministry–Paul, a sinner saved by grace but God’s spokesman to us. I am as Timothy was admonished by Paul:
“Consider what I say; and the Lord give thee understanding in all things.” (2 Timothy 2:7)
This is only a short answer and a very poor one at that. No man can teach without the Holy Spirit in His power, correcting our meager efforts in the hearer’s heart and mind.
Here are a few additional remarks on the subject:
What does it mean “to confess” in the OT and under the Kingdom gospel?
The Hebrew word translated by the KJB as confess is “yadah”. Literally, it is to use (i.e. hold out) the hand; physically, to throw (a stone, an arrow) at or away; especially to revere or worship (with extended hands). There are 11 occurrences in the OT) and “yadah” is translated consistently “to use the hand.”
This is why some work of the hand is always mentioned in the OT confession. There is no confession without a work of worship (towards God) or restitution of goods (towards man).
“5 And it shall be, when he shall be guilty in one of these things, that he shall confess that he hath sinned in that thing:
6 And he shall bring his trespass offering unto the LORD for his sin which he hath sinned, a female from the flock, a lamb or a kid of the goats, for a sin offering; and the priest shall make an atonement for him concerning his sin.”
“7 Then they shall confess their sin which they have done: and he shall recompense his trespass with the principal thereof, and add unto it the fifth part thereof, and give it unto him against whom he hath trespassed.”
Confession usage in New Testament
In the NT “homologeo” is translated “as confess”. Homo (same) logeo (to say) to say the same. Nothing is given regarding the hand.
“4 John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.
5 And there went out unto him all the land of Judaea, and they of Jerusalem, and were all baptized of him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins”
Nothing is said at the baptism regarding doing something with a hand but the submission to baptism involves a definite action of the whole person–outwardly, and under the hand of John the Baptist. In the physical submission to the baptism of John, they were confessing. Previously, they had corrected their bad works (see Matt 3:7-10; Luke 3:7-14) before John would baptize them.
“32 Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven.
33 But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.”
Again, this is an outward act before men.
“16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”
Again, this is outward confession, not of sins here but of “faults” to men.
1 John 1:9
“9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
An argument can be made that this is only to God, without any works but the problem is that it is only an assumption; plus, the verse DOES NOT SAY THAT! In view of all the above clear usage of “confess” in relation to sin, to force this interpretation is shaky. Besides, the context of the statement carries right works :
“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” (1John 1:7)
Not only that, but to force this 1 John passage to be Church Age doctrine means that in reality there is no power in the grace of God to cover future sins AFTER salvation but that it all resides in the sinner himself to be sure that before he dies he has confessed each and every sin completely and absolutely. This is nothing more than “Protestant last rites” and is only a small step from the Roman Catholic heresy. It is a “grace plus works” error that if applied doctrinally to the Church Age makes “grace no more grace”.
“And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.” (Romans 11:6)
The one critical event for the believer in the Church Age is below. There are no other references to “confession” in the Apostle to the Gentiles’ writings:
“9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”
The verses state confession is not about US, what we DID or DID NOT DO but totally what Christ has DONE.
Furthermore, the confession of grace is the mouth of the HEART, physical lips and tongue do not count.
This is only one of many differences between spiritual things in the Bible. We are told to compare spiritual things with spiritual things (1 Cor 2:13) and then rightly divide them (2 Tim 2:15). Rightly divide the Bible, get the doctrines in the right place, believing what the Bible says, where it says it, and the wonderful harmony of the entire 66 books is readily seen. Take a verse out of context and ignore to whom it is addressed and disregard the age in which it occurs and force it to say the same thing found in all other passages, leads to doctrinal error or Bible correction. Doctrinal errors make Christianity a flimsy carnival of competition among clowns and bring damnation rather than salvation. Bible correction erodes the foundation of sound doctrine and leaves sinners without any sure word of God. We have too many of both at work in our generation.
Therefore, I can find no scriptural direction to “confess” sins for forgiveness and be cleansed from unrighteousness in Church Age doctrine. I do gladly confess my belief in the finished work of Christ.