How to Confess Your Sins: A Bible Study

by Crystal McDowell · Print Print · Email Email

Remember the character, Fonzi, of the TV sitcom Happy Days? He was the coolest of all the characters of the show, but he had one major flaw…he couldn’t apologize. He lacked the ability to say “I’m sorry. I was wrong.” Many of us share the same flaw especially when it comes to our closest family members and friends.

Why is it so difficult for us to confess our sins? Pride? Shame? Avoidance? Whatever the reason, the Bible clearly indicates that:

Indeed, there is no one on earth who is righteous, no one who does what is right and never sins (Ecclesiastes 7:20).

What are the steps to confessing our sins?

Step #1) Confess to yourself

“I confess my iniquity; I am troubled by my sin” (Psalm 38:18)

Every child of God has the Holy Spirit within them. He alerts us to when we’ve grieved Him with our words, thoughts, or actions. He is gentle and with a still, small voice leads us to deal with our sins. We must acknowledge within ourselves when we have failed. This act of humility begins first in the heart of a true believer who wants unrestricted access to the Holy Spirit.

In our quiet time, we can confess our sins before God without condemnation. By taking the time to reflect on our day and being open to the Holy Spirit’s enlightenment of our shortcomings, we develop an exceptional sensitivity to our spiritual state. Believers who experience God on a regular basis will be drawn to deal with their sin immediately and without excuse so they can grow in their faith.

Step #2) Confess to God

“Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight” (Psalm 51:4).

God sees everything even the hidden motives of our hearts. We can be easily deceived by our hearts especially when we attempt to compare our sins to others. God doesn’t play favorites. He expects His children to obey His Word even when no one else knows our sin.

When Jesus went to the cross, He suffered greatly for our sins even though He never sinned. The Lord gave every human being the opportunity to walk in freedom instead of a deserved punishment of eternal death for our sins. As believers, we’re aware of this great and mighty sacrifice made on our behalf; therefore, we must respond immediately to His gentle conviction.

Step #3) Confess to others

It would be wise to confess to mature believers of the same sex to avoid the appearance of evil.

It would be wise to confess to mature believers of the same sex to avoid the appearance of evil.

“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed” (James 5:16).

If we made peace with ourselves and with God, why would it be necessary to confess our sins to other believers? Our confession to one another gives us an opportunity to hold each other accountable. Many believers become entangled in repetitive sins because they are embarrassed by their shortcomings. They want others to believe the best about them.

By creating an environment of openness, we give each other room for restoration and healing. The Lord reveals His love through the fellowship of believers. We stand up for each other—not as judges—but rather as fellow heirs growing up in the faith. Confession to each other always requires wisdom. It would be wise to confess to mature believers of the same sex to avoid the appearance of evil.

Step #4) Confess your sin specifically

“When anyone becomes aware that they are guilty in any of these matters, they must confess in what way they have sinned” (Leviticus 5:5).

It’s tempting for us to gloss over our day and say “Lord, forgive me of all my sins” without taking the time to reflect on the manner of how we sinned. Confessing and focusing on the specific sin gives us insight into how we’re tempted and enticed in the first place. With careful and thoughtful reflection, we can avoid the entrapment of repetitive sins.

It’s necessary for the believer to do the hard work of inspecting their heart in order to overcome sin’s power over their lives. Sin desires to have mastery over the saint of God who has been set free. By being honest, specific, and open about our sins, we can live in complete freedom of the Spirit.

Step #5) Confess your sin in repentance

“Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River” (Matthew 3:6).

True biblical confession is followed by some form of repentance. It could be expressed in many different ways: baptism, an apology, restitution, or other forms of penance. Just saying the words “I’m sorry” isn’t always a guarantee of repentance. The outward showing of humility is demonstrated by a change of thinking and behavior.

Believers who confess their sin in repentance won’t be the same afterwards. Their lives will reveal the grace and mercy of God as they live out the truth of being completely forgiven. There is freedom in repentance that alleviates guilt, shame, and regret.

Confession is good for the soul…

By confessing our sins we’re able to experience: freedom from the weight of sin, usefulness to the kingdom of God, humility in the light of Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins, release from regret, and the grace with forgiveness from our Father in heaven. Make a habit for life to spend quality time reflecting and confessing your sins so that you can reveal the light of Christ in a dark, depressed world.

Take a look at this article, also about sin:

Bible Verses About Sin

Resource – New International Version Bible, The Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright© 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblca, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Judy July 22, 2013 at 12:18 pm

Good reminder on confession. Would like to see an article on why we cannot/don’t confess and not just the steps of confession.


Crystal McDowell July 26, 2013 at 4:58 pm

That’s a great idea Judy! Maybe you’ll see it here.


randolph July 22, 2013 at 11:52 pm

Good reading will help in daily life


Crystal McDowell July 26, 2013 at 4:59 pm

Thanks Randolph for your words of encouragement.


Jen July 27, 2013 at 8:42 pm

Loved this article! I have just recently re-discovered my faith and am working to restore what has been lost over the years after accepting Jesus as my Savior when I was a young girl. This reminds me that I need to continue working on how I confess my sins.


Crystal McDowell August 10, 2013 at 4:14 pm

How awesome it is to have rediscovered your faith Jenny! I celebrate with you and pray that your journey will remain unhindered in the favor of God.

God bless,


Ed March 6, 2015 at 3:34 pm

i’m confessing my sins of pornography and asking God to deliver me and let the Holy Spirit guide me daily


carmen January 4, 2016 at 8:24 am

you mention confession and restitution for repentance and those are good but what about resolving not to do that sin again and trying to stop it through the help of the Holy Spirit? sometimes it would not be wise to make restitution because we could make things worse for ourselves or the other person but we can show we have changed by not doing it again. is that enough to be forgiven or do we always have to be baptised or make restitution every time we sin? sorry if this question is a bit daft but im still learning


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