|Many people feel as that they are "so dirty inside", or that their past sins were "so bad" or |
"so rebellious" that they will never receive God's promises. This is either a self-inflicted lie,
or it is a lie from the enemy of God.
One of my former pastors, Jeff Schreve, explained it this simply: "If you are actually worried that you have committed the unforgiveable sin, then you can be certain that you haven't committed it." I think that is one of the top ten sermons I've ever had the privilege of hearing and receiving. See, the very fact that you are worried about possibly committing, or having committed, the unforgiveable -- this fact reveals the state of your heart -- and it shows that you are in a place where you reverence and fear God with humility. You are humble because you are acutely aware that you do not deserve His forgiveness.
I've written more on the teaching of Jesus about the unforgiveable sin in Chapter 12/Day 12 in Discovering God's Will and in He Called: 56 Daily Studies and Reflections With the Words of Christ . However - for now, I wish to provide to you some verses and Biblical thoughts to meditate on. Return to these whenever you have truly confessed and repented, yet you are still concerned that you are not, or will not, be forgiven. First we have some of the prophecies of the Old Testament which proclaim the way God forgives, even though we don't deserve it:
- God doesn't only forgive little, careless, unintentional sins. He also forgives deep, dark, secret, wicked sins. In Zechariah God speaks and says, "I will forgive their wickedness and remember their sins no more." -Zechariah 31:34
- God does not treat us as we deserve, nor repay us according to our iniquities. Instead, His love is so immense for those of us who fear Him. His love for those who fear Him is as high as the heavens are above the earth. (Psalms 103: 10-11)
- God will cleanse us of all our sin, and will even forgive rebellion against Him. - Isaiah 38:17. We are given this promise at least twice. For again, in Daniel it is written that The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against Him and have not obeyed His voice or followed His laws. - Daniel 9:9
- The prophet Micah tells us that God practically "stomps on our sins" and throws them into the deep sea! God does this (metaphorically of course) each time we confess. Even Micah the prophet seems to think this is an almost unbelievable attribute of God, a gift that can be found no where else and in nothing else. Micah writes: Who is a God like you?....You pardon sin and and delight in showing mercy? Once again you will tread our sins underfoot and throw them into the depths of the ocean!" - Micah 7:18-19
The above verses even come to us from the Old Testament - before God even sent His Son, Jesus, to further provide assurance that we are fully able to be forgiven. Here are some of the New Testament examples of this:
- The first New Testament example: Let us not forget that the apostle Paul himself claimed that he believed that he was the worst sinner of all in the world. (1 Timothy 1:15-16) Personally, I agree with Paul's self-evaluation -- he was extremely wicked! Paul was one of the leaders who rounded up Christians and had them persecuted and killed. Paul (who was still called Saul at the time) stood by and watched with an evil smirk as Stephen was stoned to death. (Acts 7:58) However, God not only quickly and fully forgave Paul, He also used Him as one of the greatest examples of evidence that the mercy of God is readily extended even to the most wicked. Paul basically said, in paraphrase, "The reason God pursued me and forgave me, is to show everyone that His forgiveness is available to all who come to believe in Him -- even the worse of sinners, like I was."(1 Timothy 1:16)
- The apostle Peter, one of the very first Christian preachers in all of history, proclaimed, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." - Acts 2:38. Peter then later declared, "All the prophets testify about him, that everyone who believes in him will have their sins forgiven through his name. - Acts 10:43. Peter's sermon is one of the earliest sermons ever preached at the beginning of the formation of Jewish-Christian church of people. Even if you are skeptical and think that the message of God's forgiveness has been "watered down" over the centuries, look back and see that the original message in approximately 33 AD was the proclaiming of forgiveness available to all; and Peter further proclaimed that the consequence of confession was not punishment -- but a gift - the gift of the Holy Spirit! This should motivate us to confess to receive the gift; it should not frighten us to believe we will confess and be further punished or unanswered.
Here are a few more New Testament assurances:
- So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Jesus Christ. -Romans 8:1
- If you declare with your mouth that Jesus is Lord; and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. - Romans 10:9
- Finally, Jesus himself clearly stated His purpose near the beginning of his ministry. He declared, "I desire mercy, not sacrifice. For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners." - Matthew 9:13. Jesus stated that he did not come to reward people who were behaving and acting like good followers of God. He came specifically for sinners. Why did he come to sinners? To punish them? No -- Jesus himself said, even early in His ministry -- that He came in order to give mercy to sinners.
- Ultimately, do not forget the great mercy of our Lord Jesus, that even upon His own death at the hands of the Roman guards, He begged God to forgive the Roman men who had put Him to death. "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." - Luke 23:34
Do you desire to be closer to God, but feel like you will never be able to overcome busyness, distractions, or lack of actual motivation to really spend time with Him? Author Sherry Elaine Evans shares her journey in Closer to God: Simple Methods Starting Today.