One more question. God says that IF we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful to forgive. What if we don’t confess all of them? Is it even possible to be able to remember all the sins that we commit in one day? Does it say anywhere in the scripture that we are forgiven for our future sins?
This is a question I received from a friend this week. It’s a common question actually, and one that I have dealt with throughout my life. The question centers on our understanding of sin, confession, and salvation.
When I was a young boy, I was relentless in my pursuit of confession. I truly believed Jesus to be the Savior of my sin(s) and I consistently apologized to him for the things I did wrong. In one sense, this was healthy. I was a new Christian, consistent in my sin, and consistent in “agreeing with God about my sin.” That is, after all, what confession is. We agree with God that what we have done is wrong. This is followed by repentance, which is turning from the wrong-doing.
But, there was a problem with this pattern. I continued to confess after every sin because I believed that needed to keep confessing to keep being saved. I believed that every time I committed a new sin, my eternal salvation was back up in the balance. This was a misunderstanding of sin, confession, and salvation.
Counted or Uncounted
The problem with this view of sin, confession, and salvation can be cleared up by looking at 1 John 1:8-10. The passage reads:
The Greek word for “sins” there is “hamartia” which, according to Strong’s, can mean counted or uncounted, plural or singular. In other words, we very well can translate that, “if we confess our sin” instead of “sins.” The if-then is not recalling and confessing every sin (this is impossible). We are confessing our “body of work” to the Lord. We fall short. We have sinned. And we are in need of forgiveness.
For All These
There is a great Hebrew prayer called the Al Chet that confesses the sins we know we have committed and the sins we don’t know we have committed. One section of the prayer reads:
“And for the sin which we have committed before You knowingly or unknowingly. For all these, God of pardon, pardon us, forgive us, atone for us.”
We can pray one prayer for both! We have countless sins that need forgiveness. We confess once and for all to the Lord our need for a savior and forgiveness. If we do that, he is faithful to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Then, as we come to sin again, we confess again. But, not in order to be saved. That has already been accomplished. Instead, we confess to agree again with God regarding our sin and “go and sin no more.”