Bible Study

Confess/Confession – What Does The Bible Say?

Updated: December 14th, 2021- Some minor edits, added what can hinder us from confessing sins, added some resources, including how we should look at Catholicism’s teaching on confessing sins to a priest (see below if that’s what you were looking for). 

For a few weeks, I’ve been thinking about starting a series on words in the Bible and what does scripture actually say about them, what’s the context? I think today being Valentine’s Day and following the previous post about salvation, it’s important to look at the word: confession or confess.

To confess: admitting wrongs, declaring or announcing something.

In scripture, we often see confession associated with our mouth, to be vocal.

We are told to be careful with what we say. We are accountable for our words.

  • (NIV) Matthew 12:36, “But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken.”
  • (ESV) Matthew 12:37, “for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” (See also: Proverbs 18:21)

In scripture, our words reflect what we are storing in our heart. Do not be fooled, speaking good words and “sounding” godly is different than being godly, no matter how others view us or how we may view teachers. God knows the difference. What we proclaim with our mouth SHOULD match up with our actions, including what we do and think in secret.


Confession Of Sin

  • (ESV) 1 John 1:09, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
  • (ESV) Proverbs 28:13, “Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.”

Note this scripture in Proverbs. “Confess and turn from sin.” (See also: Ezra 10:11)

A confession is a form of obedience, and when we obey the Lord, we honor Him as well. If we confess for forgiveness, then we MUST repent and turn away. No one is perfect, people stumble, but geniune followers of Jesus hate sin and are convicted. We live our lives to please the Lord, and Christ has broken the bondage we were once in with sin. (Read Romans Ch. 6) 

In the book of Acts, the fear of Jesus was being awakened upon believers. They believed in Jesus and because of their belief, they then started to confess their sins. Some of these confessions dealt with people using magic books, and they burned quite a bit of these books because they turned to Jesus Christ and confessed.

  • (ESV) Acts 19:18, “Also many of those who were now believers came, confessing and divulging their practices.”

Confession works among believers, as well. If we struggle with each other, we need to confess our sins and forgive. (Colossians 3:13)

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What Can Hinder Us From Confessing Sin? 

Pride is a big reason why we struggle to confess sin. Got Questions in their article of What Is Confession of Sin puts it this way:

“Several factors can hinder or prevent our confession of sins. One is pride. We don’t like to admit we were wrong. Pride rushes in to justify, explain, or blame-shift instead of confessing and being forgiven (Proverbs 16:18). God resists a prideful person (James 4:6; 1 Peter 5:5). Confession of sin does little good when it is coerced or insincere because it is not true agreement with God but a temporary effort to appease a guilty conscience or pacify someone else.” What Is Confession of Sin by Got Questions 

The article also mentions how ignorance often hinders us. This is exactly why we need to be reading our Bibles and studying. We need to understand what is the truth of God’s word. No one likes feeling guilty, but that’s no excuse to avoid God’s word. Indulging in sin is not going to help us draw close to God, it separates us, actually. 

Consequences For Not Confessing Sin

Not confessing sin CAN affect our body. This doesn’t mean that everyone who is sick is sinning. But our body can be affected by sin. Seeds of pride, bitterness, anger, selfishness, etc are very real. It may not be an obvious sin to us because we’re desensitized. Prayer is crucial. We must ask the Lord to direct us and reveal sin.

  • (ESV) Psalm 32:03, “For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.” (See also: Psalm 31:10, 38:03, & 39:11)
  • (ESV) James 5:16, “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” Please note: God can use sickness for His glory, as a way to witness, and to minister to others. Again, sickness DOES NOT always mean sin. 
  • (ESV) Psalm 139:23, “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts!”
  • (ESV) Psalm 19:12, “Who can discern his errors? Declare me innocent from hidden faults.” – I like the NLT’s version to help explain this, “How can I know all the sins lurking in my heart? Cleanse me from these hidden faults.”

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Confessions We Proclaim

Often, water baptism is where people proclaim that Jesus is LORD. In scripture, sometimes people confessed their sin when getting baptized. John the Baptist introduced baptism and repentance. Baptism for the Christian is symbolic of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. All who truly put their faith in Jesus, their sins are imputed to Him, and His righteousness is imputed to them. Thus, emerging from the water is symbolic of how we become a new creation in Jesus Christ.

  • (ESV) Matthew 3:06, “and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.” See also: Mark 1:05Acts 2:38

However, water baptism should NEVER be the only place we proclaim Jesus is LORD. We need to tell others about Him. Share the Gospel. Proclaim the physical resurrection of Jesus.

  • (ESV) Matthew 10:32, ““So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven,”

Our words should also be encouraging and edifying to the church body. This includes being vocal, and not hidden, about false teaching.

  • (ESV) Ephesians 4:29, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”
  • (ESV) 2 John 1:07, “For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist.”
  • (ESV) 2 Thessalonians 3:14, “If anyone does not obey what we say in this letter, take note of that person, and have nothing to do with him, that he may be ashamed.” (See also: Romans 16:172 Thessalonians 3:06

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Summary Of Confession:
  • Confessing our sins needs to result in repentance from these sins. This happens through the acceptance of Jesus as our Savior and believing in Him. He alone helps us repent. We cannot do it on our own.
  • Not confessing sin has consequences, not just for eternity (for those who put their faith in Jesus Christ and have been transformed into a new creation), but for our current life.
  • Confession, regarding scripture, can relate to water baptism. One way as seeking repentance and another as proclaiming Jesus as our Lord to others. 
  • We are to confess our sins to each other and forgive.
  • We are to proclaim to the world Jesus is LORD & point out false teachings (with proper discernment). 

What About Catholicism’s Teaching On Confessionals?
It is taught nowhere in scripture. See this article by Got Questions – What Does The Bible Say About Confession Of Sin To A Priest? 

Some Other Resources On Confession:

Got Questions- What Is Confession of Sin? 
Got Questions-  Why Should We Confess Our Sins To One Another? 
Got Questions- How Should A Christian Deal With Feelings Of Past Sins? 


What stands out to you about confessing sins and proclaiming Christ?

Monthly Scripture- (NKJ) Psalm 85:02, “You have forgiven the iniquity of Your people; You have covered all their sin. Selah.” 

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6 thoughts on “Confess/Confession – What Does The Bible Say?

  1. I remember when I heard confession described as aligning yourself with the truth. Agreeing with God. When we confess sin, we are agreeing with God that we are in the wrong. When we confess Jesus is Lord, we are agreeing with God that He is right! I was glad you also covered a bit of confession of faith; there’s something so powerful about declaring truth out loud, whether you’re alone or with others. Let all Heaven and Hell know where I stand! Jesus is Lord!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I would also add that although confession is good, it is not enough alone. It needs to be accompanied with repentance. Judas confessed he’d betrayed innocent blood, but failed to repent.

    Thanks for the post 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

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