Are you feeling guilty and desperate? Mortified by some of the things you’ve done? Wondering if forgiveness is possible? The conviction of sin can bring us to a place of feeling helpless and hopeless. Our shame tempts us to think that no one, much less God, could forgive us. We might wonder how we can go on. What possible hope could there be?
Have you heard that God is a forgiving God? Have you heard about His great love? Let’s start with the good news first: no one is beyond God’s forgiveness. No matter what you have done, you have not out-sinned God’s ability to forgive you.
The Bible tells us that all humans have sinned (Romans 3:23). Each of us is deserving of eternal separation from God (Romans 6:23). No matter the sin—rape, murder, terrorism, adultery, theft, pride, gossip, jealousy, lying, not fully loving others, etc.—we deserve to be punished. It’s an all-or-nothing scenario. God does not judge us on whether our “good” outweighs our “bad,” but on whether we will accept His way of salvation.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God” (John 3:16–18, ESV).
God made a way of forgiveness, not just for some sin but for all of it. There is no sin that God cannot forgive. No matter what you’ve done, God will forgive you if you come to Him in faith.
There is only one way of forgiveness. God won’t forgive you because you promise to do better next time or because you make amends or because you do good deeds. No, He will forgive you because Jesus paid the penalty for sin on your behalf.
Jesus was fully God and fully human. He was without sin and lived a perfect life. But He was crucified on the cross. He died a sinner’s death. The Bible tells us, “For our sake he made him [Jesus] to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21, ESV). Jesus took on our sin so that we wouldn’t have to bear it. He did the work and paid the price so that we could receive forgiveness.
We know Jesus spoke truth and that His sacrifice on our behalves was effective because He rose from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:3–4, 20–22). Jesus died and was buried, but He was physically raised back to life. Jesus conquered sin and death. He made it possible for us not to be stuck in our sin and guilt and shame. He made a way for us to move past despair and into true life (John 10:10). He offers forgiveness to us if we will put our trust in Him.
Do you want to receive forgiveness from God today? There is no one prayer that will grant you this forgiveness. As has been explained, forgiveness is made possible through the work of Jesus Christ. But we can receive this forgiveness by asking God for it, in faith, through prayer. You might say something like this:
“God, I know that I have sinned against you. I know that I am deserving of being separated from you forever. I know that I can’t possibly make it up to you or become righteous in myself. I need your forgiveness. You have provided a way. You sent your Son Jesus to live a perfect life, die, and rise back to life on my behalf. You have paid the price that I owed for sin so that I might be forgiven and enjoy fellowship with you. Please forgive me, God. I believe in you. Remove my guilt and bring me into new life in your Son. Thank you that I can trust that you will do this. Thank you for providing a way of forgiveness and for accepting me into your family. Amen.”
If you have prayed this prayer and truly believed it in your heart, you are forgiven. You have been made new in Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:17) and have become a child of God (John 1:12–13). Give God praise for releasing you of the burden of guilt and despair.
Prophet Nathan’s Sermon