Should unbelievers confess their sins in order to be saved?

Is 1 John 1:9 written to believers or unbelievers?

John uses the first person (plural), "we", speaking as one of those to whom truth has been entrusted directly through experience with the Lord (verses 1-5). The truth is "God is light." John uses the second person, "you," in addressing believers, "little children" (verses 3-5; 2:1, etc.). He uses the third person, "he," referring to those whose teaching is contrary to truth (2:4-9). John’s teaching must be consistent with God’s character, so he points out three things he could not teach, "if we say" (verses 6, 8, 10).

Each of John’s "if we say" statements is contrary to the truth in the preceding verse. Verses 5 and 6 deal with sin as the characteristic of our life - impossible! Verses 7 and 8 deal with sin as the contagion of our nature; "the blood of Jesus Christ, His Son" eternally removes the defilement of this before God. Verses 9 and 10 deal with sin as the consequence of our actions; confession of those sins restores the enjoyment of fellowship with our Father.

Unbelievers do not confess their sins in order to be forgiven. They repent of their sins (Acts 17:30) and trust Christ for forgiveness (Acts 13:38, 39).

D. Oliver