Proclaim. Mobilize. Equip.
Call 866-865-6253

Bible Q&A: Do I Need to Confess Every Sin to Be Forgiven?

May 22, 2017

Question: Pastor Smith made a statement that “God only forgives the sins that we confess.” My question is in regard to the inference that the sins we do not confess are unforgiven. The problem I see is that we are all in trouble because no one can remember all of their sins to confess.

Answer: This really is a good question! And the original quote is from Dr. Alan Redpath: “God has not promised to forgive one sin that you are not willing to forsake.” And you’re absolutely correct: If we had to confess every single sin in order to be forgiven, that would be an unbearable burden!

The key words in the Redpath quote are “not willing.” The question is not, “Have you really confessed all your sins?” The question is, “Are you holding onto a sin, and refusing to turn from it?” These are two very different things.

The first is an issue of remembering all your sins; the second is the issue of a willful refusal to turn from sin. Pastor Colin (and Redpath) was, in fact, saying that God has not promised to forgive our willful refusal to turn from sin.

This is an important distinction because our forgiveness does not depend in any way on our performance in the Christian life. Our forgiveness depends entirely on the finished work of Christ in his perfect life and atoning death on the cross. The question that is being raised here with the Redpath quote is, “Do you have an authentic Christian life? Is the Spirit of God at work in your life?” The authentic Christian willingly turns from sin.

I pray that this explanation would be clarifying and helpful, leading you to find rest in the finished work of Christ.

Pastor Tim

The Author
Tim Augustyn

Tim serves as the resident pastor, writer, and editor of Unlocking the Bible. He was born and raised in northern Wisconsin, came to faith in his 20's while working in the business world, and received a Master's in Divinity from Trinity International University. He is author of the children’s book Man on the Run, and co-author of The One Year Unlocking the Bible Devotional with Colin Smith. Tim and his wife, Janna, and their four kids live in Arlington Heights, Ill.



Explore this topic further

The Image of God: Three Important Questions

Genesis is a word that simply means beginning. Here in chapter one, we find both the beginning of the Bible and the beginning of Creation. We learn that we have a God who can create energy, matter, waves, time, life, and us by his very words. I find this to...

Read Post

70 Prompts for Fighting Sin

Jude, in his epistle, issues a challenge, a call. He appeals to readers to contend for the faith (Jude 3) or, to stay true to the message of Christ as originally proclaimed by the Lord’s apostles. As believers today, one application of his appeal throughout the book of Jude is...

Read Post

How Sin Leaves Us Needing the Intervention of God

Sin runs in the blood; grace does not. Many churches are actively erasing this truth. Confession of sin is quietly dropped from worship services. Massive tracts of Scripture that repeat this foundational truth are silently glossed over. There is an active movement today to rewrite the great hymns and erase...

Read Post
For your gift of any amount

For All Who Grieve

A new book from Pastor Colin Smith

Get Unlocking the Bible's Weekly Email

"This Week at Unlocking the Bible" features new articles, radio programs, devotionals, and ministry updates

We will never sell or misuse your information.