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Total Forgiveness in Christ
Can God forgive you for the horrible things that you have done?
First Timothy 1.12–16
By Don Ruhl
Can God forgive you? You know what you have done, what you have said, and what you have thought. Can God forgive you for those things? Will God forgive you?
Regardless of what you have done, if you come to Christ with total surrender, believing that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, filled with sorrow for your sins, leading to repentance, and that you will obey the Lord, total forgiveness is yours.
Psalm 103 uses the compass to illustrate just how far the Lord casts our sins away from us,
As far as the east is from the west,
So far has He removed our transgressions from us.
How far is the east from the west? They never meet. Stand anywhere on the globe and you will still point in opposite directions, showing where east is and where west is.
Therefore, if you go to the Lord on His terms, your former sins will never meet you again.
You will be clear at the Judgment.
Isaiah 38 uses God Himself to illustrate that God does not see our sins anymore,
Indeed it was for my own peace
That I had great bitterness;
But You have lovingly delivered my soul from the pit of corruption,
For You have cast all my sins behind Your back.
If someone argues that God can see anywhere, even behind His back, then think of it this way. He is giving us a picture of ourselves, when something is behind our backs, we cannot see it. So it is with God.
Your sins, regardless of what they have been, if you regret them and you are making a genuine effort to repent, the all-seeing God of heaven does not see those sins anymore.
Isaiah 43 shows that as something is removed from a record and is no longer considered, so it is with our sins,
I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake;
And I will not remember your sins.
A bill collector has a journal of all that you owe him, and more than you could ever repay in your lifetime. He then decides that if you regret having made those debts and will try your best not to make anymore, and will become his servant forever, he will forgive that debt!
That is the picture of Isaiah 43.25.
Micah 7 graphically presents the total forgiveness of God. Why would you not allow me to toss your wedding ring into the ocean? If so, we could never recover it,
He will again have compassion on us,
And will subdue our iniquities.
You will cast all our sins
Into the depths of the sea.
Has our ability to go to the depths of the sea diminished this parable? I think that it has only intensified it. God has thrown our sins into a place where they cannot be found.
This includes whatever sin you have committed, even one that you think is so great God just cannot forgive it.
Have you committed a greater sin than: Denying the Lord like Peter did? Killing the Lord like the Jews did?
Some people believe the walls of the church building would fall in, if they entered the worship service. Some wicked people have worshiped here, but you see the condition of the walls.
Forgiven, Not Merely Recovering
First Corinthians 6 gives examples of sins the Lord will forgive, and this passage does not complete the list, “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God” (1Co 6.9–11).
Paul said that the brethren were some of those things, but through Christ and the Spirit they had been forgiven.
The Greatest Sinner
First Timothy 1 uses the greatest sinner of all time to display before the world the far-reaching forgiveness of Jesus Christ, and if this man could be forgiven, so can you. Are you worse than the man who wrote these words? “And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry, although I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man; but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. And the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant, with faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life” (1Ti 1.12–16).
Paul thanked Jesus Christ (1Ti 1.12). Never forget what Jesus did on the cross in acquiring forgiveness; and all other blessings. Without forgiveness all other blessings are meaningless and hell is our home.
Paul reminded us of his former manner of life (1Ti 1.13a). Paul sought to make havoc of the church: A blasphemer – he did not blaspheme the Father, but Jesus. A persecutor – he did whatever he could to harm the church. An insolent man – he was a violently arrogant man.
Acts and Galatians reveal him as a persecutor.
Acts 8.1 “Now Saul was consenting to his death.”
Acts 8.3 “As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and woman, committing them to prison.”
Acts 9.1, 2 “Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord went to the high priest and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.”
Acts 22.4, 5 “I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women, as also the high priest bears me witness, and all the council of the elders, from whom I also received letters to the brethren, and went to Damascus to bring in chains even those who were there to Jerusalem to be punished.”
Acts 22.19, 20 “So I said, ‘Lord, they know that in every synagogue I imprisoned and beat those who believe on You. And when the blood of Your martyr Stephen was shed, I also was standing by consenting to his death, and guarding the clothes of those who were killing him.’”
Acts 26.9–11 “Indeed, I myself thought I must do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. This I also did in Jerusalem, and many of the saints I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I cast my vote against them. And I punished them often in every synagogue and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly enraged against them, I persecuted them even to foreign cities.”
Galatians 1.13 “For you have heard of my former conduct in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it.”
The mercy, grace, faith and love of Jesus Christ (1Ti 1.13b, 14). Paul received mercy for his ignorant unbelief. Sometimes people interpret this to mean that they cannot obtain mercy because they knew what they were doing when they sinned. John 16 shows that while Paul was ignorant, that did not lessen his sin, because he did it in the name of God, making it worse, “They will put you out of the synagogues; yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service” (John 16.2).
The grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant. Romans 5 lets us know that grace is greater than any sin, “Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more, so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom 5.20, 21).
The magnitude of grace exceeds the magnitude of any sin.
Jesus came to save sinners (1Ti 1.15). Here is a faithful saying that is worthy of all acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, and Paul was the chief sinner. Some think that this was only in Paul’s own mind. Others think that their sin is worse. Paul did his sin in the name of God.
Paul became a pattern (1Ti 1.16). Jesus chose Paul to demonstrate His longsuffering. Why did Jesus make a special appearance to Paul in Acts 9? Why does Jesus not do this for every person? Our text answers the question. Jesus wanted an example of someone great in sin, or the greatest in sin, and by saving him, Jesus shows His longsuffering.
This makes Paul an example for anyone else who is going to believe on Jesus Christ. Is there anyone who thinks that his sin is too great to be forgiven? If Paul was forgiven, anyone can be forgiven.
What about the Jews who took part in the crucifixion?
How about the Gentiles mentioned in Romans 1.18–32? They were ungodly, unrighteous, truth-suppressers, unthankful, foolish, idolaters, lustful, vile, homosexuals, sexually immoral, wicked, covetous, malicious; they were full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they were whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful, but they were forgiven through the mercy and grace of Jesus Christ.
You and the Forgiveness of Jesus Christ
Have you done something worse than Paul, the Corinthians, the Romans, or the Jews who crucified Christ?
The mercy and grace of God have been able to cover all the sin of all the world since Jesus was crucified; and you think that all of a sudden your sins are too much for God to handle?
You think only “professional help” can help you?
Can God Forgive You for the Horrible Things That You Have Done? That is not the question. The question is: Do you want to be forgiven?
God Keeps His Word He will forgive. His forgiveness is granted when you repent.