In the New Testament we read about three different confessions that are unto salvation.
Confession with the mouth to become a Christian
“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”
This is not a confession of sin. It is a confession that Jesus is Lord. It is the confession that the eunuch made. “And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” (Acts 8:37) It is faith responding.
Confession of sins
“Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee.”
1 John 1:9
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
It is not a confession “if I have sinned.” It is a confession that I have sinned. It is a confession of sins. This confession of sins is to be as public as is the sin. If only God and you know the sin, confess to Him. There is no need to publicly confess sin that is not publicly known. If you and another know of the sin, confess to him (James 5:16). If the sin is publicly known, confess it publicly. Others are not to question the sincerity of the confession; rather they are to count it sincere unless and until there is proof otherwise. The sin IS to be confessed because one repents, not because one has been caught.
Confession of life
“Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.”
This is a context of persecution. As sheep in the midst of wolves (v. 16); be scourged (v.17); brother against brother (v.21) hated by all (v. 22) persecuted (v. 23) called names (v. 25) even death. (28) Fear not, rather confess. This is not just a mouth confession; it is a life confession. See Matthew 7:21 and Luke 6:46. The Lord will confess to those who make this confession. He will deny those who just say “Lord, Lord.’ This confession is taking one’s cross and following Jesus (v. 38). To be saved, everyone must confess Jesus today. We have no yesterday, nor tomorrow. Today is the day of salvation.
To become a child of God one must confess with the mouth the Lord Jesus (Romans 10:9-10). To be forgiven of sin a child of God must confess his sin (1 John 1:9). To be in fellowship with God, one must confess with life, do the things He says. Matthew 7:21-27)
Jesse G. Jenkins