“For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10:10)
Scriptures throughout the New Testament attest that confession is an essential part of the process of conversion. As with faith, it is not the only part as both faith and confession are described as steps that take place as one goes toward salvation.
Before we can confess, we must believe in God and in Jesus as the Son of God. With such faith, a person has a solid foundation for deciding to change from his former life and live in the way Jesus instructs, for telling others about this new-found faith, and for submitting to the watery grave as the final act of obedience of the gospel. Then, Peter says in Acts, the Lord adds that person to His church.
Initially, we are not to confess our sins—rather, we are to confess our faith: “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” This is the confession the Ethiopian made to the evangelist Philipp as he traveled on the road from Jerusalem to Gaza. Then, Philipp baptized him, and he continued on his journey rejoicing.