Alan Redpath, a famous evangelist and pastor, said, “God has not promised to forgive one sin that you are not willing to forsake.” Other pastors have said, “God only forgives the sins that we confess.” Does every sin have to be confessed to be forgiven?
Confessing every sin is impossible. Sin is so much a part of every person’s daily life that complete confession is not possible. More important than the impossibility of confessing every sin is the lack of any Biblical command to confess every sin. The Old Testament commanded offerings to cover sins, it provided for sins committed in ignorance and for all sins to be forgiven even the ones unnoticed and unremembered.
The New Testament never commands or implies that confession of every sin is required. The promise of salvation is that in Jesus “we have redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of sin.” (Colossians 1:14) 1 John 1:7 assures Christians, “The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin.” God promises full forgiveness through Christ. The Bible never makes total confession a condition of salvation.
1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” This verse has been used as the proof text to show that full confession is required before there can be forgiveness. John is not teaching that forgiveness is dependent on confession. He is teaching the Divine promise to forgive. First John assures forgiveness without implying a need to exhaustively list every sin committed. The depth of our sin is deeper than we can confess but the grace of God is greater than all our sin.
God promises to forgive every sin. He does not promise to forgive every sin we want to have forgiven or of which we have repented. He does not forgive every sin we want forgiven. He forgives every sin. If He only forgave the sins we wanted forgiven no one would make it into heaven. If you have asked Jesus to save you, then every sin, conscious and unconscious, past, present or future, is completely forgiven.
This does not mean the Christian can sin as much as he wants because he is forgiven. The child of God is not going to want to live in sin. He will be convicted of sin and will be continually confessing and forsaking sin. Because he is forgiven the Christian will no longer delight in sin.
Why do Christians need to confess their sin? Confession of sin serves to maintain the intimacy of the believer’s present experience of his relationship with God. Sin hinders fellowship with God during this life, but does not change the Christian’s eternal destiny nor does it change God’s love for His children. Sin does affect God’s pleasure of your life, it affects your walk with God and it hinders your effectiveness in prayer.
When you are convicted of a sin confess the sin, but do not worry that you have not confessed them all. Trust God and rejoice in Jesus that your relationship is dependent on Him not on you, your memory or the extent of your penitence. God has already forgiven the Christian’s every sin. Rejoice in His complete forgiveness.