I believe that one of the hardest things about being a Christian is believing that God can forgive ALL of our sin. It’s hard to grasp that concept that God forgives and forgets (Jeremiah 31:34), but can he really do that?
Jesus said that he did not come here for the righteous. He did not come here to pave the way for the Rabbi’s and the Pharisees, the people that felt they most closely were following God’s law. He did not come here for the good people. He came for the sinners, the destitute, poor, the prostitutes, the thieves. He came to call the lame to walk, for the sinner to proclaim the words of God (Matthew 9:11-13).
That is who he came for! His specific purpose was to come down and die for us, the sinners. It doesn’t matter what you did. Proof, you ask? I have two stories in this respect. One I’m sure will be better received than the other.
Paul, the greatest missionary of all time, was once one of the most well known persecutors of Christians. Do not take that lightly. He was dragging women and children from their homes and throwing them in prison (Acts 8:3). People knew who he was, and knew that he was very avid about punishing Christians. I can’t imagine the impact he had on peoples lives, but God gave him a second chance. I think the guilt of what he did was overwhelming. He knew that he had unjustly destroyed so many peoples lives and I think that weighed heavily on his conscience.
Jesus gave a parable of a debtor who owed $500 and a debtor who owed $50. When the moneylender cancelled both debts, he asks “which one of them will love him more?”(Luke 7:341-42). He gave this parable, not to say that anyone owes God less, but to show the different perspectives of people believing what they owe God. If we do not believe that we are bad people then we feel like we owe God less and therefore love him less, though if you are like many who know that you owe God an insurmountable amount, know that he has canceled that debt and love him that amount back.
It is by knowing and recognizing that we need something or someone to forgive us that glorifies God. When you believe that you have sinned so much that even the eternal God’s sacrifice could not atone you, then you will know forgiveness the likes few have ever seen, but you have to accept it. Jesus Christ was God of the universe, he came down to earth to bear all of our sin and even to become our sin so that in us, we could be God’s bragging rights (2 Corinthians 5:21). Know that he does forgive you and it is our sin and our badness that shows to everyone how great our God is by showing how compassionate and how good he is.
If you don’t know what the word compassion means, it literally means to “suffer along with” and that’s what God did as Jesus he suffered along with us, taking on our sin, our guilt, our punishment. He knows how you feel because he felt it on that cross and in the midst of the spitting and the shouting and the pain of the nails in he wrists and ankles, with his raw flesh scrapping against the course wood of the cross and the crown of thorns piercing the skin of his skull he cried out “Forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing!” (Luke 23:34). In the midst of his torment and suffering, in the midst of the worst kind of pain and rejection imaginable, he chose to forgive them and forgive us.
Do not live as though you do not have hope. Doing so only denies ourself the hope to be found in the forgiveness of the cross. The kingdom of heaven is near, it is inside us along with the Holy Spirit. We should not mourn ourselves, we should celebrate! We have been forgiven! Accept it and smile knowing that God took the bullet for you specifically.
Now, I want to share the other story of redemption. If you believe that you are bad, imagine how you would feel if you were a serial killer. I will not go into the details of his gruesome murders or his cannibalism in of his young male victims. What he did is gut wrenchingly horrible.
You may be aware of the story of the American serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer. If not please look up his name and read his story. This guy lied constantly; there was no question about that. He pleaded insanity knowing that all of his actions were controllable and premeditated.
While he was in prison, he began being seen by an evangelist. He did convert and was baptized in a prison whirlpool. This in itself is not that shocking. What happened after his conversion however was. He wrote to the judge of his case apologizing for his lies and his actions and complimented him on his right judgement. He then wrote every one of his victims parents. I can’t imagine what he said or even hoped to get across in them, but one of the sisters of one of his victims came to see Jeffrey. She then came to see him more and somehow by God’s grace she found it in her heart to forgive Jeffrey. Her other sister did not and refused to accept what he did, and then one day she too met him and she forgave him as well and the two sisters actually began a friendship with this man.
Perhaps that in itself is the testimony. Two sisters who forgave the unthinkable. But it doesn’t end there. Jeffrey was in solitary confinement since he had gone into prison for his own protection. Who wouldn’t want to be the man who killed the famous serial killer? Knowing this full and well, he asked that the prison put him with other inmates. His request was refused, but he continuously asked and finally the warden granted his request. Jeff knew the dangers of what he was doing but he specifically said that he wanted to share this good news with others even if it cost him his life… and it did. Just months after he was integrated into the prison population he was killed by inmates.
The two sisters and several other Christians attended his funeral. I can’t tell you whether or not he went to heaven, I can’t judge such things, but I can look at what he did and his actions showed repentance. He did things that did not gain him anything but only jeapordized his life in the means of working for God. The two sisters who I can only imagine how they were able to forgive him, did so.
If we as people can show that kind of forgiveness, how much more can God show forgiveness?
Do you believe that what you have done is horrible? I won’t argue with you, it may very well be, but there is room for you in the body of Christ. He can heal you if you let him. He came to call us, the vagrants, the infidels, the sinners. He is here for us. I personally have experienced this forgiveness. My own friends, pastors and coleagues gave up on me when sin caught up with me. But I can asure you, God is able to forgive anyone. he has forgiven me and I am free from the burden and condemnation of sin. He can make you clean as well.