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“Confession of Sin” for Eternal Salvation

Bill Fallon –

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The claim is often made by pastors and evangelists that “confession of sin or sins” is necessary in order to be eternally saved. Usually they will include belief into the mix and frequently add other requirements such as sorrow for sin, repentance of sin, turning from sin, etc. The topic of this brief study is to answer from the Bible the question: “Is  “confession of sin” a requirement for receiving eternal life?  

God hates sin and loves the sinner (Hab. 1:13; John 3:16). This is also a pattern which we as belivers should follow; but not in order to become saved. But what does the Bible say? John 3:16, and many other clear eternal salvation verses present belief in Jesus as the only requirement to receive eternal life.

Some practical implications of presenting this false message are that it not only confuses the unsaved (II Cor 4:3, 4); perhaps hindering them from becoming believers, but it also brings judgment upon its proclaimers (Gal 1:6-10). How are we to know if we confessed enough sins or for long enough period of time? If this were necessary to receive eternal life then it would negate any assurance of salvation; a subject which God endorses (I John 5:13).

Below are all of the references to confession in the New Testament. As can be readily seen, out of the 24 verses referenced, only 3 have to do with confession of sin (the first 3 noted).

The first two have to do with the ministry of John the Baptist to the Jews of Palestine and are not in the context of receiving eternal life. (1)The third one noted (I John 1:9) is a verse very much applicable to the believer of today; but has to do with forgiveness and fellowship with Christ; not justification and receiving eternal life (see verses 6 and 7). Please note concerning these 3 verses:

1. None of the verses are imperatives or commands

2. None of them have to do with receiving eternal life

3. None of these three verses even mention the one requirement given throughout the NT; belief in Jesus (John 3:16; Acts 16:31; et al).  

Confess Sins or Sins:

Mt 3:6 And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins.

Mr 1:5 And there went out unto him all the land of Judaea, and they of Jerusalem, and were all baptized of him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins.

1Jo 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (Please see Bible studies related to this verse - [1], [2], [3]).

(To the "Conclusion" at the bottom of the page.)

Confess Faults to one another:

Jas 5:16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

Confess Jesus:

Mt 10:32 Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. (Please see Bible studies related to this verse - [1], [2].)

 Lu 12:8 Also I say unto you, Whosoever shall confess me before men, him shall the Son of man also confess before the angels of God:

Joh 9:22 These words spake his parents, because they feared the Jews: for the Jews had agreed already, that if any man did confess that he was Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue.

Joh 12:42 ¶ Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue:

Php 2:11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

1Jo 4:2 Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God:

1Jo 4:15 Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God.

Confess not Jesus:

Joh 1:20 And he confessed, and denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ.

1Jo 4:3 And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.

2Jo 1:7 For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.

Jesus will confess us to the Father:

Re 3:5 He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.

Confess something to God:

Ro 14:11 For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.

Ro 15:9 And that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy; as it is written, For this cause I will confess to thee among the Gentiles, and sing unto thy name

Confess a teaching or a fact:

Ac 23:8 For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit: but the Pharisees confess both.

Ac 24:14 But this I confess unto thee, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets: (Paul’s defence before Felix)

Heb 11:13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.


Ac 19:18 And many that believed came, and confessed, and shewed their deeds.

Ro 10:9 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.

Ro 10:10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. *

1Ti 6:13 ¶ I give thee charge in the sight of God, who quickeneth all things, and before Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession;

*Note on Romans 10: 9, 10: These verses mention confession, but not confession of sin. It is this writer’s belief that these verses refer to both salvation and sanctification. Bible studies are available to support this contention. Please see  Bible studies related to this passage.

Conclusion: (back)

Though it is likely helpful to show an unsaved person that he is a sinner and that he needs a Savior; we conclude from the Scripture presented that adding the requirement of confessing one’s sins in order to be eternally saved is adding man's efforts to God’s finished work on the cross; to His good news of salvation “by grace through faith…not of works” (Eph. 2:8, 9). This message is detrimental and in error


(1) It is this writer’s contention that confession of sins mentioned here (Matthew 3:6 and Mark 1:5) is related to repentance and has to do with forgiveness and not justification. This applies to the Jews of Palestine who had a part in crucifying our Lord.

For an in-depth study on this subject, please see the short book, “Harmony With God:  A Fresh Look at Repentance” by Zane Hodges. It is available for purchase from or can be read online at:  Part 1     Part 2    Part 3   

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Confession of Sin