Can God Forgive Me?
Can God Forgive Me? – Rejection and Rebellion
“Can God forgive me” is a very common question. If you are not sure about God’s nature and character, doubts about His forgiveness are recurrent. Often feelings of guilt and rejection dominate our thoughts. “I’ve asked God to forgive me, but I still feel guilty. I’m not even sure I deserve God’s forgiveness.” We may be unsure about what the Bible says about His children. The consequences of uncertainty will: 1) imprison you in self-condemnation, and 2) restrain you from receiving God’s mercy and grace.
Forgiveness is an act of pardon. Even when we choose to reject Him, God is still anxious to forgive us. “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more” (Isaiah 43:25). God graciously declares that He is ready to forgive us. He could have just as easily chosen to destroy us, freeing Himself of our disobedient nature. Yet, in His greatest expression of love, God’s posture towards us is the Giver of Grace. God chooses to pardon our sins, blotting them out as a cloud blots out the sun’s rays (Isaiah 44:22).
It is not always easy to comprehend an omnipotent God as gentle and tender-hearted. Our rebellious nature impacts everything about us. Often we continue to reap the consequences of our rebellion. Yet, God chooses to give us not what we deserve, but to give us what we need, forgiveness.
Can God Forgive Me? – Paying the Price
In the Old Testament, God required an animal sacrifice, such as a bull, for forgiveness. He required the sprinkling or pouring out of blood as a sin offering upon a consecrated altar. This represented the fact that the life of the sacrificed animal was given to God instead of the sinner’s life. This was a ransom, the price demanded for the Israelites’ sins (Leviticus 4:14-21). For more than a millennium, God placed the payment of a blood sacrifice for forgiveness at the very center of Jewish life.
David, the Jewish shepherd-boy and king of Israel, may have wondered, “Can God forgive me?” David’s adulterous affair with Bathsheba and conspiracy to murder her husband resulted in the death of David’s firstborn son. God can’t violate His righteous nature—sin must be atoned [paid] for. Yet God responded to a repentant David and forgave him (2 Samuel 12:13-14). But, when David desired a census of his military men, Israel paid a high price for their leader’s pride and self-sufficiency. God permitted David to choose the form punishment for disobedience—an angel was sent to destroy Jerusalem (1 Chronicles 21:10-15). David then confessed his personal sin and urged the Lord to spare the innocent people. “David built an altar to the Lord and sacrificed burnt offerings...Then the Lord spoke to the angel and he put his sword back into its sheath” (1 Chronicles 21:26-27). It is only through God’s infinite mercy and grace that the full price for David’s sins was not demanded.
Can God Forgive Me? – Sizing up the Sacrifice
Like David, perhaps you have experienced the devastating consequences of your poor behavior. Forgiveness from others was not forthcoming. “If people can’t forgive me, how can God forgive me?” Satan, who accuses both day and night, wants to lead God’s children to believe that God no longer wants to forgive them (Revelation 12:9-11). These doubts regarding forgiveness are completely contradictory to God’s nature and character.
God does not simply forgive us “automatically” without seeking a response from us. He addresses our intellect, our emotions, and our will.
- God addresses our intellect by explaining that “we have all sinned and fallen short of His glory” (Romans 3:23).
- God speaks to our emotions by issuing a heartfelt personal invitation. “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord...” (Acts 3:19).
- God speaks to our wills by asking us to have faith, to trust Him. “For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved...anyone who trusts in him [Jesus Christ] will never be put to shame” (Romans 10:10-11).
God’s grace is giving us what we don’t deserve—salvation from sin and a promise of eternal life. He chooses to freely give us His grace as a gift. God promises that all who believe in Jesus Christ “are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood…” (Romans 3:24-25).
The scarlet thread running throughout the Bible is the story of God’s unmerited love and redemptive action on behalf of His children. Which is harder to accept—that God longs to spend eternity with you—His unique and precious creation? Or that God willingly sacrificed His only Son, Jesus Christ, so that forgiveness could be extended to all mankind? Learn more about God’s forgiveness!
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