Difference Between Confession and Repentance

Confession vs Repentance

Although the two words confession and repentance often go together, these do not denote the same thing as there is a difference between them. Confession is when an individual acknowledges his wrong doings. Repentance, on the other hand, refers to the feeling of remorse about something. This highlights that confessing is one thing, but repenting is a different thing to confession. In many religions, confession and repentance have been addressed. For instance, in Christianity, it is believed that confession alone is insufficient if the individual does not repent his wrong doings. Through this article let us examine the difference between confession and repentance.

What is Confession?

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, confession can be admitting to a crime, acknowledging reluctantly, or else declaring one’s sins formally to a priest. In each case, notice how the word is connected to a wrongdoing or crime. However, this should not be confused with confessions of love. In this case, the confession is not an offense that has been committed on another, but of love.

When speaking of confession there can be various types of confessions. They are as follows.

  • Religious confessions or else confessions in religions
  • Legal confession
  • Social confession

Confessions in religions take place when an individual confesses his sins to a priest. In this situation, the individual feels that what he has done is morally incorrect and wishes to cleanse himself by revealing this. In religious confessions, the individual is not burdened with consequences. In legal confessions, the individual confesses his crimes in front of a legal officer or in a court or police station, where the individual will have to bear the consequences of his actions, such as imprisonment. Finally, social confession is when an individual confesses his wrongdoing to the person he wronged with the intention of gaining his forgiveness. According to psychologists and mental health professionals, confessing one’s offenses can have positive results on the individual’s health because it is a relief to let go of secrets that he has been harboring inside.

Difference Between Confession and Repentance

What is Repentance?

The word repentance can be defined as feeling or expressing remorse about something. It is when an individual thinks about his past actions, evaluates them, and feels regret for the offenses that he has committed against other people. A person who repents about the crimes that he has committed has decided on channeling his energy towards self-change and betterment.

Repentance has been a theme that has been discussed in many religions. In most religions, it is believed that without repentance the individual cannot achieve salvation. Mental health professionals believe that when an individual realizes he is guilty of something and repents this allows him forgive himself eventually.

Confession vs Repentance

What is the difference between Confession and Repentance?

Definitions of Confession and Repentance:

Confession: Confession is when an individual acknowledges his wrong doings.

Repentance: Repentance refers to the feeling of remorse about something.

Confession vs Repentance:

In Religious Context:

In the contexts of religion, repentance of one’s crimes leads the individual to confession.


Confession: Confession might not involve a change in the individual.

Repentance: Repentance involves a change in the individual.


An individual can confess to a crime, but he may not repent his actions.


Confession: Confession can be imposed.

Repentance: You cannot impose repentance. It comes from the individual.


Images Courtesy:

  1. Molteni Giuseppe, La confessione by Fondazione Cariplo (CC BY-SA 3.0)
  2. Manasseh’s Sin and Repentance via Wikicommons (Pubic Domain)