Q. I have a question about confessing our sins. Since the Bible says that anything that is not of faith is sin, it would seem that we sin oftentimes without even realizing that we’re sinning. And it would seem that we’re in sin more than we’re out of sin. With that in mind, we’d have to spend almost every waking moment confessing our sins in order to be back in fellowship with God on a continual basis. Do you think God really wants us to spend that much time confessing sins?
A. Paul spent from Ephes 4:17 to Ephes. 4:29 describing some of our sinful behavior and telling us it’s no longer appropriate for us. Then in Ephes. 4:30 he said not to grieve the Holy Spirit with whom we are sealed for the day of redemption. That tells us our sins cannot cause our salvation to be revoked because it has been guaranteed, and the Holy Spirit is the seal who guarantees it (2 Cor. 1:21-22, Ephes. 1:13-14). But it also tells us our sinful behavior causes Him grief.
When John said to confess our sins, he said our confession will purify us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). This has the effect of making us a suitable dwelling for the Holy Spirit again and maintaining the closeness of our relationship with Him. Nothing is more important to us or Him than maintaining that relationship.
You’re right in saying we’re in sin more often than we’re out of it. But God knows the end from the beginning and that includes all our sins. Therefore we don’t have to itemize them when we ask Him to forgive us. If a particular sin makes you feel really bad, that’s the Holy Spirit telling you to confess it immediately. Otherwise once or twice a day is sufficient to cover everything.