On the Necessity of Confessing Sin

CRI-Blog-Hanegraaff, Hank-Confession of SinI was thinking, before coming into the studio today, about how we have lost the ability to think biblically. Having lost that critical ability, post-truth moderns are being quickly transformed from cultural change agents and initiators to cultural conformist and imitators. The problem is pop culture is always beckoning and, all too often, postmodern Christians are taking the bait. Instead of proper spiritual formation rooted in historic Christianity, believers are increasingly enamored with incessant novelty, ahistorical immediacy, spiritual impatience, and an immature exposition of biblical mandates. Here is just one example.

I am hearing it over and over again, as Christian leaders on television, radio, and print have embraced this new fad of telling devotes that continual confession of sin is not only unnecessary but it is tantamount to cheapening God’s unmerited favor or even worst it is kind of like mocking Him.

This of course despite the clear urging of John the apostle that his “dear children” (1 John 2:1 NIV) (so he is talking to believers) in the faith, those who have been forgiven on account of Christ’s name, are to continually confess their sins (1 John 1:8–10). Far from cheapening God’s grace, confession purifies our hearts; it restores the joy of our salvation.

By the way, the prayer of Jesus — this was the prayer that Jesus taught His disciples to pray — includes the petition: “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” (Matt. 6:12 NIV) (i.e., forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who have trespassed against us). That kind of a petition, like the contrition of King David (2 Sam. 11:1–12:25; cf. Ps. 51), brings with it grace and peace.

Remember what David said? “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise” (Ps. 51:17 NIV).

Think about James; he explicitly exhorted believers to “confess your sins to each other” and also to God (James 5:16).

Remember the grammatical construction used with the verb “confess” in 1 John 1:9? Not to get too technical, but this is a present active subjunctive. That is important because it denotes continual confession.

Each time we partake of the Eucharist, we are to examine ourselves and confess our sins so that we will not come under judgment (1 Cor. 11:27–32).

Continuous confession brings with it the certain promise that God is faithful, He is just, He will forgive our sins, He will purify us from all unrighteousness. Perhaps in place of embracing incessant novelty and instant gratification, we do well to look back to the early apostolic church and how they embraced a faith by which they overcame the world.

—Hank Hanegraaff

For further related study, please access the following:

Grace upon Grace: 1 John 1:8-9 and the Forgiveness of Sins (Steven Parks)

Joseph Prince: Unmerited Favor (Warren Nozaki)

Thanksgiving and the F-A-C-T-S on Prayer (Hank Hanegraaff)