Can God Really Forgive Someone Like Me?
Can God Really Forgive Someone Like Me?The Bible promises that if we confess our sins, God will forgive us but even when we are familiar with the Bible we can still get confused and lose hope. This article was written because I wanted people to have a very strong sense of hope. Sin is a very negative thing, the Bible says that, “the wages of sin is death” (Rom 6:23). That tells me that sin is not a good thing and that we need to get it out of our lives. The most negative effect of sin is that it harms your relationship with God, so to have a good relationship with God we need to avoid sin. However, Christians do have battles with sin; it is part of the Christian life, even Paul (an apostle who wrote parts of the Bible) had his struggles but the important thing is not to throw up the white flag and surrender to sin and let it rule our lives. We need to be continually turning back to God and seeking to be close to Him. But to do that, we need hope, so let's take a look at the powerful hope that we can be forgiven that is found in the Bible.
If you are tormented by questions like “How can God forgive me after all the things I’ve done?” Then the answer is not because you deserve his forgiveness, no one deserves to be forgiven because we have all failed to do the right things at some time in our life. (Rom 3:23). The only hope that we have of forgiveness is something that Christians call grace, and grace means underserved kindness or favour.
So how can God forgive someone like you? By trusting only in what Jesus has done by dying for us on the cross, asking him to forgive you and come into your life and change you. In this article I want to talk about some misconceptions that make people believe that God could not forgive them. However, before you read this article, you might like to read two other articles on this website that lay foundations that this article builds on. The article “How do I become a Christian?” explains how we can receive God’s forgiveness. The other article is called “Does God love me?” and its theme is that God loves you no matter who you are or what you have done and you can know his love by asking him to reveal his love to you, by giving your life to God and allowing other Christians to help you to grow as a Christian.
The Bible says a lot of encouraging things that give us confidence that God is on our side and that he is willing to completely forgive us if we will trust what Jesus has done on our behalf and receive him into our lives.
Romans 8:31-32 What can we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? Since God did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t God, who gave us Christ, also give us everything else? (NLT)
Romans 10:13 For "Anyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." (NLT)
Isaiah 41:10 Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you. I will help you. I will uphold you with my victorious right hand. (NLT)
Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you," says the LORD. "They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. (NLT)
Hebrews 13:5 ... For God has said, "I will never fail you. I will never forsake you."
We might hear scriptures like those ones repeated many times but somehow still manage to get the idea that they are not meant for us, so lets look at some of the issues that will cause Christians to doubt that they are saved.
I Have Sinned Too MuchSome people think there is a limit to God’s forgiveness and that his forgiveness is temporary. Here is what the Bible says.
Psalms 103:11-13 For as the heavens are high above the earth, So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us. As a father pities his children, So the LORD pities those who fear Him. (NKVJ)
The word “transgression” is another word for sin, which simply means to disobey God's rules.
Isaiah 43:25 "I—yes, I alone—am the one who blots out your sins for my own sake and will never think of them again. (NLT)
Isaiah 1:18 "Come now, let us argue this out," says the LORD. "No matter how deep the stain of your sins, I can remove it. I can make you as clean as freshly fallen snow. Even if you are stained as red as crimson, I can make you as white as wool. (NLT)
Romans 5:8 But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners (NLT)
So God does not wait until we are perfect before he will forgive us.
To show how great his forgiveness can be, God reached out to a man named Saul, Saul was someone who hated Christians and wanted them all locked up or dead. But God turned Saul into Paul the Apostle. Paul was a leader of the early Church and was responsible for starting many of the first churches and for writing many of the books in the New Testament part of the Bible. Even if you have committed murder, God can forgive you. In fact I have heard of people who used to worship Satan leaving the occult and becoming Christians. See Ed's Story.
If you are worried that you might have sold your soul to Satan then I've got good news for you and it is summed up in the word “redemption”. The word redemption means, “to buy back”. It's like going to a pawnbroker and buying back something you hocked. When Jesus died on the cross he redeemed us; body, soul and spirit. Any contract you make with Satan is torn up when Jesus buys you back and because Jesus’ death is for all time, he could do that even before you were born.
1 Peter 1:18:19 knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. (NKJV)
Condemnation vs. ConvictionThe words “condemnation” and “conviction” might not sound too familiar to some readers, so here is a quick definition of those words from a Christian point of view.
To be condemned is to be made to feel guilty in a way that leaves you without hope. To be convicted is to be gently made aware that there is something in your life that needs to change.
The first thing you need to learn is the difference between the voice of God drawing you away from sin and back towards God and the voice of Satan telling you that you are hopeless, that you are worthless and that you would be doing everyone a favour if you just gave up.
The Holy Spirit is God and God is love. You are valuable to God; Jesus went through unimaginable agony just on the physical level alone because you are valuable to him. Any voice that tells you that you are worthless is contradicting God’s word (the Bible) and God does not contradict his own word. The voice of condemnation pulls you away from God. The Holy Spirit will draw your attention to sin and do so in a way that is not a personal attack on your value as a person. The Holy Spirit will urge you to come back to Jesus and turn away from sin. He will do it in a loving and gentle way. It is important to recognise the voices and listen to and respond to the Holy Spirit and reject the voice that tells you to give up.
James 4:7-8 Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. (NKJV)
God loves you; he does not want you to shy away from him, he wants you to come close to him.
Has God chosen you?If you are of the impression that God has flipped a coin and you lost the coin toss then I want to try and help you to remove that idea from your mind. How many times have you heard John 3:16? You might even know it off by heart but just in case you don’t here it is again in paraphrase “For God so loved [insert you name here] that he gave his only Son, so that if [insert you name here] believes in him [insert you name here] will not perish but have eternal life.” Ok that is not quite the official version but think about it. The problem with a web page is that you can skim right over this part and not let God have a chance to get this into your spirit. Don’t gloss over this point, let it sink in, I don’t care whether or not you have heard it a million times before because if you think that God has not chosen you then you have not heard this verse at all. Point one God loves you. Point two God gave his only Son (allowed him to suffer excruciating agony) because he loves you. He did it so that if you receive him into your life you will not have to spend eternity separated from him and his love. Remember this important point, unlike us; God has an unlimited power of concentration. We can only concentrate on a limited number of things but God can concentrate on every single person 24/7. You have God’s attention; he is not indifferent to you by any stretch of the imagination. God feels everything that you feel; he knows your every thought.
Psalm 40:5 “Your thoughts toward us Cannot be recounted to You in order; If I would declare and speak of them, They are more than can be numbered.”
So what am I getting at? You represent a huge investment to God. Would God want to just throw away something so precious to him? God wants you to be saved and he would move Heaven and Earth if that would save you. In fact what he has done in dying for you was much harder for him than moving Heaven and Earth. If you have any desire at all to know God then it is because the Holy Spirit is drawing you to God. That fact alone should give you great confidence that it is God’s will for you to be saved. The Bible makes it clear that it God does not enjoy punishing anyone.
Ezekiel 33:11 As surely as I live, says the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of wicked people. I only want them to turn from their wicked ways so they can live. (NLT)
(The meaning of the word wicked is changing, it used to mean something that was not good).
2 Peter 3:9 He does not want anyone to perish, so he is giving more time for everyone to repent. (NLT)
God is not looking for excuses to squash you like a bug, he loves you and is planning ways to draw you closer and closer to himself. It is not his will for you to spend eternity without him.
The unpardonable sinIf you are worried that you might have committed the unforgivable sin then you can be sure that you have not. The Holy Spirit convicts people of their need for God. It is the Holy Spirit who puts the deep respect for God inside you. If God’s Spirit were not at work in your life then you would be totally indifferent to the things of God, you would not be at all worried about whether or not God can forgive you. If you had blasphemed in a way that would cut you off from God then you would not be reading this web page. If you are thinking, “I’ve heard that reasoning before and it doesn't help” then can I gently suggest that it's about time you stoped looking at your feelings and started to make a determined choice to trust God and to close yourself off to the voice of condemnation. Make a choice, don’t trust your feelings; trust God’s word. It might help you to learn the difference between temptation and sin. Temptation is not a sin, giving into the temptation is. Jesus was tempted but he did not sin. The Devil tries to pin the blame for the temptation on us as if it is our fault that we are being bombarded with the thoughts that he is trying to put in our heads. Even though we might be revolted by the very idea of those thoughts, he still hits us with the notion that we can't be much of a Christian to have thoughts like that. And then when someone tries to encourage us he tries to discourage us with the idea that the encouragement is meant for someone else not you. I can almost guarantee that if you are struggling with condemnation then as you are reading this article, thought after thought will be hitting you about why this article does not apply to you. Satan will even use Bible Scriptures quoted out of context to try and make you feel like God has rejected you. I went through a time like that myself, where God seemed like he was a million miles away from me and it was not until God revealed his love to me, that I started to learn how to make that decision to trust God and refuse to accept those thoughts of condemnation. There was no flashing light and warm fuzzy feelings, I had to learn to face that fear, to look to God and make a choice to reject condemnation on a daily basis. The scripture I quoted above has been a real key for me so here it is again
James 4:7-8 Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. (NKJV)
Sometimes Satan doesn't disappear for very long, sometimes you need to let him know he really isn't welcome. It's times like that when you need to make up your mind that you are going to be more stubborn than he is. Sometimes I need to make up my mind that I going to keep making up my mind to make the right choice.
1 Cor 10:13 But remember that the temptations that come into your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will keep the temptation from becoming so strong that you can’t stand up against it. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you will not give in to it. (NLT)
That leads into the next stumbling block, habitual sin. Learning to recognise temptation and learning how not to own it are keys to finding a breakthrough for sins that control us.
Habitual sinIf you are feeling extremely discouraged by a sin that is controlling you then you need to learn a few keys to overcome the condemnation and then learn to see who you are in Christ. You are dead to sin and alive to God. (See Romans Chapter 6) God loves you now. His love is unconditional. He loved you while you did not know him and that means that he loved you while you were still rejecting him and doing things that he did not want you to do. That means that you do not have to earn God’s love. Your motivation to stop sinning is not to make God love you. When that point gets into your spirit you are free to follow God and his way because of love, and you can follow him in his strength, not your own. Never get the idea that God likes it when you put yourself down and condemn yourself, you are not agreeing with him if you are telling yourself how hopeless you are when you sin. See the Victory page for some resources that have encouraged me. Habitual sin is not good because it wears you down and discourages you but hang on to the fact that God is at work in your life and will keep working on you. Just don’t quit, keep allowing God to draw you back to himself and learn to change the way you think so that instead of thinking how hopeless you are, start thinking how good God is and that he is at work in you and is changing you.
The Bible promises that if we confess our sin we will be forgiven. (See 1 John 1:9). We need to deliberately choose to trust that he is at work in us and to renew our mind by making a deliberate choice to think thoughts that agree with what God says about us instead of what the voice of condemnation says. If we mess up, we don’t have to give up, we can get up and dust our selves off and go back to our loving Heavenly Father by trusting in Jesus instead of sowing fig leaves to cover our shame and running away to find a place to hide. God has a great plan for our lives; we need to trust him and let him work that plan out.
Philippians 1:6 And I am sure that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on that day when Christ Jesus comes back again. (NLT)
Romans 12:1-2 and so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will accept. When you think of what he has done for you, is this too much to ask? Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will know what God wants you to do, and you will know how good and pleasing and perfect his will really is.
What I do want to make clear is this, it does not matter how long you have been struggling for, God still loves you and he still has a great plan for you life. Breakthroughs can happen even after years of failure. You might feel that you have tried and tried. You have tried everything, fasting, praying, reading the Bible and so on. One thing I’ve come to realise is that these things need to become part of your life instead of quick fixes. The Bible talks about sowing and reaping and as you start sowing good habits on a regular basis, after a season you will start to see the benefits.
When we are struggling with guilt feelings we need other Christians to encourage us. If you have more questions or if you need encouragement then I would like to encourage you to visit the following website.
This is a great website where you can have questions answered, be prayed for and be taught more about what it means to be a Christian.