By Hank Hanegraaff
Many Christian leaders today warn devotees that to continually confess sins is tantamount to cheapening God’s unmerited favor or, worse, mocking Him. Do they have a point, or not?
First, we should note that the apostle John urged his “dear children” in the faith—those who have been “forgiven on account of [Christ’s] name” (1 John 2:12)—to continually confess their sins (1 John 1:9). Far from cheapening God’s grace, confession purifies our hearts and restores the joy of our salvation.
Furthermore, the prayer Jesus taught His disciples to pray includes the statement “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Such a petition, like the contrition of David, brings with it grace and peace. Indeed, “the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise” (Psalm 51:17).
Finally, James, the brother of Jesus, explicitly exhorted believers to confess their sins to one another and also to God (James 5:13–16). As is the case with John’s writing, the grammatical construction is a present active subjunctive, denoting continual confession. Moreover, each time we partake of the Eucharist, we examine ourselves and confess our sins so that we will not come under judgment (1 Corinthians 11:28; cf. 2 Corinthians 13:5).
Continuous confession brings with it the certain promise that God is “faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
“Forgive us our sins,
For we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us.”
Luke 11:4 NKJV
For further study, see Steven Parks, “Grace upon Grace: 1 John 1:8–9 and the Forgiveness of Sins,” Christian Research Journal 38, 2 (2015): 50–54, available by clicking here.
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