Can God Forgive Me?

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to for­give us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). That promise should bring immense comfort to every child of God. If we have sinned, forgiveness is always available. But do we sometimes sabotage our forgiveness by inventing limitations on God’s promise? We do when we say…

“God can’t forgive me of this.” This person thinks God’s for­giveness only covers certain sins. He thinks what he has done is so bad that God could never forgive him. We do need to recognize sin’s ugliness, but we also need to remember the depth of God’s mercy. The promise is, “If we confess, He will forgive.” And the Bible shows God forgiving even the ugliest sins: the adultery of David, the blasphemy and persecution of Paul, the vile immorality of the Corinthians. If He could forgive those, He can forgive you.

“God can’t forgive me again.” This person thinks God’s for­giveness has a maximum payout limit, and he has exceeded it. He has struggled with sin many times. Each time his remorse and repentance have been sincere. But here he is again. He is ashamed to seek God’s mercy. But the promise is, “If we confess, He will forgive.” Jesus said, “If [your brother] sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, ‘I re­pent,’ forgive him” (Luke 17:4, NIV). If such mercy is commanded of us, then we can count on even greater mercy from the One who commanded it.

“God can’t forgive me yet.” This person thinks God’s forgive­ness has extra conditions. He may be willing to confess his sin, but not until he first proves his worthiness. Yes, repentance demands a change of conduct. It may well involve specific actions such as returning what I stole or correcting slanderous remarks (see Luke 19:8). But it’s foolish to think that piling up noble deeds makes me worthy of forgiveness, or that it will substitute for con­fessing my sin. This is the folly of the concept of doing pen­ance. It is also the folly of the wayward Christian who says, “I’ll come back after I get my life straightened out.” The promise is, “If we confess, He will forgive.” Let’s take God at His word.