"If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (I John 1:9).
Although few matters are more important than renewing a right relationship with God, there is a great deal of confusion that abounds regarding the proper manner of confessing our sins. The Biblical model for confession is clearly given in Psalm 51 where David, under inspiration, deals with his sin of adultery. Note how the focus of this passage is on God, rather than upon any other man or even on David's own needs and desires.
First, the Psalm highlights the basis of proper forgiveness--God's mercy: "according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions" (v.1). Secondly, David underscores how his sin has offended God. "For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. Against thee, thee only, have I sinned" (vv.3-4). Then we note that David requests God's cleansing: "Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. . . . Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me" (vv.7,10).
Only after this process does David request: "Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation" (v.12). Even this restoration of joy and fellowship of God's Spirit is requested that he might again use his life to glorify God. "Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee. . . . my mouth shall shew forth thy praise. . . . Then shalt thou be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness" (vv.13, 15, 19).
Biblical confession deals with our relationship with God on His terms. It is essentially agreeing with God about the specific spiritual failures in our life. After such a process we can claim God's promise found in our text to "forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." DW