There are many people, both Christian and non-Christian who think that they are unforgivable. They think that they have done something, or some things, so bad that God cannot, or will not, forgive them. This belief leaves many in a state of despair; they feel guilty and desperately seek forgiveness, but they just do not think it is possible. In this article, we will look at this issue and find that there is hope for even the vilest of sinners…not to mention you and me.
The Bible records that God saved the worst sinners
The New Testament tells us that the apostle Paul, before he became responsible for writing much of the New Testament, was an intense persecutor of Christians. He tracked down believers, had them drug off to prison (both men and women), and had many put to death for following Jesus Christ (Acts 9:1, 13, 21; 22:4, 19; 26:10-11; 1 Corinthians 15:9; Galatians 1:13; Philippians 3:6; 1 Timothy 1:13). It would appear that, if any man deserved the judgment of God, Paul certainly did.
However, the biblical record shows us that Jesus Christ (following His death, burial, and resurrection) appeared to Paul, whose name was Saul at the time, and asked, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” (Acts 9:4 ESV). Paul fell to his knees and replied, “Who are you, Lord?” to which Jesus said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting” (Acts 9:5 ESV). If we put ourselves in Paul’s place at that moment, it is still difficult to imagine the guilt that he must have felt as he was confronted by Jesus’ holy presence. In his mind, Paul must have replayed every nasty thing that he had done to all those believers and the guilt he experienced was undoubtedly more than most people will ever experience. Paul surely felt unforgivable at that instance. Nevertheless, Jesus powerfully saved Paul and used him to evangelize much of the ancient world and write down much of what we now call the New Testament. Jesus can forgive and save us too.
It is true, we are not worthy of His forgiveness
Many people feel unworthy of God’s love. The truth is that none of us are worthy of God’s forgiveness, “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one” (Romans 3:10-12 ESV). If it were not for God’s loving call upon our hearts, we humans would be trapped, destined to live a sinful, selfish life according to our own lusts and desires. It is only by God’s grace that any of us ever come to know Him. It is not because we are somehow worthy to be forgiven, but because He loves enough to provide a way to forgive us anyway.
God loves us and sent His Son to die for us
Let us take a close look at one of the most famous passages in the Bible, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him” (John 3:16-17 ESV). For many, this passage has been heard so many times that they recite it without giving it the thought it is due. What is this verse saying?
First, it is telling us that God, the Creator and Sustainer of the universe, loves you and me. Think about that! The great and holy God, Who made everything and keeps everything running, cares for little old you and me. I am not sure I understand why He loves us as He does, but the Bible says it is true, so I believe it.
Secondly, God loves us so much that He sent His Son, Jesus, to die on a cross to pay for our sins (John 1:29; Romans 5:8). It is the love of God that draws people to Him (1 John 4:9-10).
Thirdly, our part is to have faith in Jesus Christ; then we will have forgiveness from our sins and eternal life with God (Ephesians 2:4). Jesus came into the world to give us life; He did not come to judge us.
What about the “unforgivable sin”?
In Mark 3:28-30 and Luke 12:9-11 we read about a sin that is ‘unforgivable’. Many people believe that they have committed this sin and therefore cannot be forgiven. However, without going into a theological discussion too lengthy for this article, the basic definition of the ‘unforgivable sin’ is simply rejecting the truth of God, the truth of the Gospel, and the truth of Jesus Christ (a very helpful and enlightening article on this subject can be found here: What is the unforgivable sin). Therefore, the only way a person can commit the ‘unforgivable sin’ is to continue rejecting Jesus Christ as his or her Lord and Savior.
God can save anyone who is willing
Romans 3:26 tells us that we are justified, and forgiven, by putting our faith in Jesus, and Romans 10:9-10 tells us that we are saved, “…if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved” (Romans 10:9-10 ESV).
If we confess our sins and place our faith in Christ as payment for the sins for which we are guilty, God promises us forgiveness, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9 ESV).
No one has sinned too much or too bad for God to save. God is powerful enough to do anything He wants to do. He has promised us that He will save us if we will confess and repent of our sins, trust in Jesus Christ for our salvation, and live for Him. The biblical record shows us that God loves us and, through His Son, has made a way for us to be forgiven. The Bible also shows us that God saved the vilest perpetrator of evil upon believers, the apostle Paul, and used him in a mighty way to further His kingdom. There is nothing that any of us have ever done that will disqualify us from receiving the forgiveness and salvation that God offers as a free gift. My prayer is that you will trust Him with your life today.
Read more about forgiveness in the Bible here:
Resources – The Holy Bible, English Standard Version “Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.” YouTube video “Forgiveness” by Matthew West