Will God Forgive Me?
Timothy R. Henderson
This is a question that is asked by many. And it is one that is quite easily answered, Yes, He will. Psalm 86:5 states "For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee." The scriptures also teach us that God would have all men come to repentance, 2 Peter 3:9 "The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." We see by these two verses that the Lord is "ready to forgive" and "willing ... that all should come to repentance."
Many think their sins are so great that God will not forgive them. They believe their sins are much too grievous and that forgiveness for them is too much to ask from the Lord. If you would, follow along with me as we look at several cases of sinners in the Word of God and see if God was willing to forgive them.
One of the greatest cases of adultery is found in the story of David and Bathsheba. David was an important man, "a man after God's own heart" (Acts 13:21-22). But David was not a perfect man, as no man can be. He had problems and one of those problems was lust for Bathsheba. While walking on the roof of the king's palace, David spotted a beautiful woman bathing. He inquired about her, and even though it was made known that she was the wife of another man, Uriah the Hittite, he lay with her. After it became known that she was pregnant, he did what he could to have her husband lie with her to cover his sins. He committed adultery, but as we see later in the book of 2 Samuel, he was forgiven of his sins. The Lord sent Nathan to tell David of his evil deed relating to him a story (see 2 Samuel 12:1-5). When Nathan finished the story, David was furious with the man concerned. Yet when Nathan said "Thou art the man", David finally understood the gravity of his sin. Could he have expected forgiveness? He had condemned himself to death according to verse 5, but we are told in 2 Samuel 12:13-14, "And David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the LORD. And Nathan said unto David, The LORD also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die." The Lord put away the sin of David. He forgave him. Will he not also forgive us?
In John 8:1-11, the apostle John records that Jesus had come into the temple and was teaching. As He was teaching the Scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery, taken in the very act. They tested Him saying "Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned, But what do You say?" Jesus made a clear point in saying "He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first." When all of her accusers had left, being convicted of their own sin, He asked the woman "Where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?" When she answered "No one, Lord", He said to her "Neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more." The Lord forgave her of the sin of adultery. Matthew 9:6 tells us He had the power to do so. If Jesus was willing to not condemn this woman caught in the very act of adultery, would He not also be willing to forgive us our sins?
In the story of the thief on the cross, we find the Lord willing to forgive him. In Luke 23:39-43 the scriptures tell us Luke's account of the conversation that took place between Jesus and the criminals that were crucified with Him. One blasphemed the Lord saying "If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us" (verse 39), but the other rebuked him, and asked Jesus to "remember me when You come into Your kingdom" (verse 42). The Lord immediately answered him and said "Assuredly, I say unto you, today you will be with Me in Paradise" (verse 43). Jesus forgave him of his sins. If He is willing to forgive such a thief, would He not also forgive us?
When I think of murderers, evil men come to mind. Men such as you will find on Death Row, who according to the laws of the land are deserving of the death penalty. Although these are truly evil men, and guilty of judgment by the laws of the land, they have just the same opportunity of forgiveness as we do.
Let's take a look at some of the murderers of the Bible and see if they were allowed forgiveness. One of these cases is that of David, king of Israel. Having already discussed his sin of adultery, let's look at what happened afterwards. When his trickery to have Uriah lie with his wife did not work. He sent him to be killed, sending word to have Uriah placed in the hottest part of the battle. David knew he would die. David committed murder. But he was forgiven. Should he have expected forgiveness? He himself said that he should die for his deeds after hearing Nathan's story. Look at 2 Samuel 12:13-14 again "And David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the LORD. And Nathan said unto David, The LORD also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die." The Lord put away the sin of David, He forgave him. David still had to pay for his sins physically. His punishment was the death of his son, born of his adulterous relationship with Bathsheba, but the Lord forgave him. Would he not also forgive us?
Another murderer that we find written of in the scriptures, is not often thought of as a such. In fact when Paul's name is mentioned, we automatically think of a man who made great accomplishments in teaching the world of Jesus. Before Paul was Paul, he was known as Saul of Tarsus, a name that struck fear in the hearts of Christians (Acts 9:13,14). He was a man who had committed many Christians to prison, even consenting to their deaths (Acts 8:1; 9:1-2; 22:20). Because of him many Christians died. How could he expect forgiveness? He hindered the teaching of the Word of God by condemning Christians to death. Could he expect God to forgive him? Luke records in Acts 22:16 that Saul was indeed allowed forgiveness of his sins "And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord" Saul's sins were washed away. He obtained forgiveness of his sins. If the Lord would forgive someone such as Saul of Tarsus, would He not also forgive us?
We can also look at the Jews on the day of Pentecost. In Acts chapter 2 a group of Jews had gathered together with the Apostles. During Peter's sermon, in verse 36 he convicts them of murder, "Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ." He gets personal. He says, "Whom YE have crucified"; whom you have murdered, killed. "When they heard this they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, 'Men and brethren what shall we do'" (verse 37). Now if any man on earth were to be undeserving of forgiveness for murder, would it not be the very men who had murdered the Son of God? Would not they be the last people on earth to receive the blessed grace of God? Yet in verse 38 we find Peter telling them "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins." Vines Expository Dictionary defines remission as - "a dismissal, release." We can see then that those who repented and were baptized would have their sins dismissed, or released. They would be forgiven of this hideous crime they had committed. Now if the Lord would forgive those who crucified His Son, would He not also forgive us?
Finally let's look at the worst lot of people we can find in the Bible next to Sodom and Gomorrah. The Corinthians were an evil group. The apostle Paul, in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 describes to us the class of sinners that were found in Corinth. "... neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind (referring to homosexuals TRH), Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you." Did you notice what was said in verse 11 "And such were some of you." He is describing the lifestyle of the members of the church in Corinth. Could people of this standard receive forgiveness from God? Would they not be considered in the same context as the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah, or the world before the flood? Let's look at the rest of verse 11 "but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God." Because of the cleansing power of the blood of Christ, even these sinners could receive forgiveness of sins. If the Lord would forgive men and women such as the Corinthians, would He not also forgive us?
There are many other cases of sinners in the Bible, both great and small that we could spend time talking about, but I believe that these will suffice to show that God has offered forgiveness of sins to all men. But we must understand that this is not just some blanket forgiveness that will cover all sins that are committed by men. There are some sins that God will not forgive. ALL SINS that are not repented of will not be forgiven. We must understand that it is too late at the point of death.
We must make use of today, and the wondrous grace of God. He will forgive you of your sins, no matter how horrendous they are, but only if you confess them, repent of them, and have them washed away in baptism.
To understand this a little more it is necessary that we explain these steps, and why they are necessary. So please, follow along as we open up the scriptures and see what they say, not me, about obtaining forgiveness of sins.
The first step we must take toward obtaining forgiveness is HEAR. How can we know that forgiveness is available if we do not hear the Word of God. Romans 10:17 tells us "So then faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God." Hearing is necessary to complete the rest of the plan of salvation set forth in the scriptures.
Romans 10:17, also tells us once we have heard the Word of God, it should produce faith. What is faith? In Hebrews 11:1 we find God's definition of faith "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." Faith is necessary for salvation. Faith is believing in something that you have not seen, it is what our hopes are made up of. I have faith there is a Washington DC, though I have never been there, I place my belief on the fact that others have been there and seen it. I place my belief in Jesus, even though I have never seen Him, on the fact that others have, and testified of Him in the New Testament. We must understand that hearing the Word of God and having faith in it is not enough. In James 2:20,26 we read "Faith without works is dead." Just stating that I believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God is not enough. The Lord taught in Matthew 7:21 "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven." Many of the rulers of that time believed in Jesus, as evidenced in John 12:42 "Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him." It is painfully clear that more is required of us than belief.
Once we have faith in Jesus, it should cause us to repent of the sins of this world, and desire to live a godly life. Repentance is defined in Vine's Expository Dictionary as a "change of mind involving both a turning from sin and a turning to God." Repentance is a change of direction, realizing the direction we had been following in is sin, and changing our direction to follow the Word of God. It involves a change of mind that makes us choose to go the way of the Lord, not the way of the world. In Romans 12:2 we read "And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind." In this verse we see the necessity of changing our mind to not conform, or follow along, with the things of the world, but to set our minds on things higher, hence, following the will of God. We also need to understand that as necessary as repentance is, it is not all. We must do more than believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and repent of our sins.
Once we have this faith in Jesus and we have set our minds toward things holy, then we must confess our belief that Jesus is the Christ the Son of God. In the account in Acts chapter 8, Philip went down and taught the Ethiopian Eunuch. After Philip had preached to him about Jesus, the Eunuch asked "what doth hinder me to be baptized?" Philip said "If you believe with all your heart you may." And the Eunuch answered and said, "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God." It was necessary that he confess his belief in Jesus. The Lord said in Luke 12:8 "whoever confesses Me before men, him the Son of Man also will confess before the angels of God." Confession that Jesus Christ is the Son of God is a very important step towards salvation. It lets others know of your faith, and teaches them by your example of the necessity of believing in the Lord. We need to understand, too, that confession is not enough. As we saw previously in Matthew 7:21 "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord' shall enter the kingdom of heaven." It takes more than just confessing He is the Son of God. The demons confessed Him as the Son of God (see Matthew 8:29; Mark 1:23,24; 3:11; 5:7; Luke 8:28; Acts 19:15) but they were not saved.
We have shown that belief by itself is not enough, repentance by itself is not enough, and confession by itself is not enough. When we put all three together is that enough? Many today would teach this very doctrine. They use many of the same verses we have talked about to prove their doctrine. Many teach that all you have to do "is accept Christ into your heart and say the 'sinner's prayer'". If this is the case why do we not find the "sinner's prayer" printed in the Holy Spirit inspired Word of God? Not once is a reference made to the "sinner's prayer". If you can find a reference please point it out to me. In the account of Paul we find that he was a believer, he was visited by Christ, he prayed, he fasted (this shows that he was penitent, he had repented of his sins), he was even of a clear conscience. But was he saved? If there were ever a case for a "sinner's prayer" this is it, but we find that there was something more he needed to do to receive forgiveness of his sins, and the gift of eternal life. In Acts 22:16, Ananias, told Paul "Arise and be baptized and wash away your sins calling on the name of the Lord." He still lacked something and needed the cleansing power of water baptism to "wash away his sins." He had already shown repentance, and was praying to God. Now if a "sinner's prayer" is all that was needed, why did Ananias command that Paul be baptized to wash away his sins? 1 Pet. 3:21 states "There is also an antitype which now saves us, namely baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ." This antitype is referring to the ark which was built by Noah and in which eight souls were saved. Just as Noah was saved by the water that bore the ark, so are we saved by the water that puts us into the body of Christ. Through water baptism we receive the cleansing power of the blood of Christ.
Baptism by itself does not save us, just like faith, repentance and confession are not sufficient alone. Yet when we put all of these together, we can obtain salvation. Can we stop here? NO! We must continue in the will of God. This is not a one time deal, we must continue to obey the will of the Father. Remember, "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven" (Matthew 7:21). Obedience to the Father is necessary.
Let us all set our mind to obey the will of the Father.
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