While I ministered to a friend over the loss of her mother, she shared a miracle she witnessed; her 85 year old father returned to his faith in Christ after 60-years. As a soldier in the Korean War, he committed acts of horror and brutality that convinced him God would never forgive him. He agonized over the belief that his soul would be damned to eternal hell, and having taken innocent lives he was resigned to accept his fate. But in planning funeral arraignments for his wife, the pastor shared with the old soldier that he indeed could be saved. He dedicated his life to Jesus Christ at age 85, with the peace of knowing he would spend eternity with his wife in heaven.
Believers and unbelievers, are inclined to sin, as well as being ignorant of what the Bible teaches us of God’s character. Single mothers abort their unborn children. People of all ages cheat, steal, lie and covet another’s possessions or relationships. Chemical abusers act out in debaucherous abandon, often committing adultery, causing fights, injuring themselves, injuring others, and saying unconscionable things to people. People give up hope in God and turn their backs on him for years or even decades. The list spiritual hurts associated with humanity are as many and varied as there are people. More often than not, our broken nature and ignorance leads us to believe we’re beyond saving.
With great regularity, folks in my counseling room express that they have sinned so greatly that they don’t believe they can be forgiven. It’s a blessing for me to share with these believers that their fears are unnecessary; it’s extremely rare for believers to commit the “unforgivable sin”. God’s grace is as infinite as his power, knowledge, presence and love. If you feel like you have committed any sins so bad they are unforgivable, I recommend you go somewhere you won’t be disturbed and confess your sins to God. He knows them already, but you can’t begin recovering from them until you admit them.
Scripture teaches us much of God’s forgiveness in the face of our sin:
Romans3:3 “True, some of them were unfaithful; but just because they were unfaithful, does that mean God will be unfaithful? 4 Of course not! Even if everyone else is a liar, God is true. As the Scriptures say about him, “You will be proved right in what you say, and you will win your case in court (re: Psalm 51:4).”
Every single one of us fails in ways large and small, but by the righteousness of Jesus and His atoning sacrifice, our sin dies with His atoning death. We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.
Romans 3:23 “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. 24 Yet God freely and graciously declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins”
So many people don’t approach God until their ways have gotten them into peril. Often called “foxhole prayers”, people make promises to God in exchange for getting them out of peril. While God is happy to hear from us, He isn’t interested in any transaction with us. If it is His plan to get you out of your peril, he accommodated you long before you needed help. It seams strange that there is no quid-pro-quo with God. Everything on earth is a transaction, but God is not transactional. He loves us completely and unconditionally, regardless of what works we invent to buy His favor.
There was a transaction that occurred for our salvation, but it happened long before you or I were born. You didn’t earn it, but it was earned for you, and you simply have to believe on the sinless One whose taking of our punishment accomplished it:
Ephesians 2:9 “Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.”
Romans 5:8 “ But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.
So, how do we go about accepting the free gift that gives us the relief from sin?
Romans 10:9-10 “If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved.”
You may have seen, and even done all of what you’ve read here, but there is a lingering feeling that you have still done something that qualifies as unforgivable. If you think that’s the case, here is the Scripture passage where Jesus enumerates the “unforgivable sin”:
Mark 3:28-29: “I tell you the truth, all sin and blasphemy can be forgiven, but anyone who blasphemes the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven. This is a sin with eternal consequences.”
There are a few small splinters of denominations that deny the Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. They deny the deity of the Holy Spirit, considering it a description of God’s power rather than the person of the Holy Spirit. The United Church of God, the Mormons and others twist or invent scriptures to reflect opinions contrary to widely-accepted understandings of God’s nature and ways. The vast majority of their arguments against the person of the Holy Spirit are arguments from silence, or from re-interpreting well established translations of Scripture. For the LDS, they invented an entirely new deity that lives on another planet with a “heavenly mother”, and Jesus lives on a different planet. The Bible calls out false prophets, so believers need to be wary that they can be led down a path of the unforgivable sin by people who appear to be well-meaning Christians.
Of course, rejecting Christ is unforgivable. If you are not secure in your faith in Jesus Christ, I invite you to do what you see called for in the Scripture passages above. You can pray where you are right now, silently or aloud, and ask Jesus to be Lord of your life. Get a Bible. Get into community with a reputable, Bible-teaching church. It may not be easy for you, but it is simple. And it is eternal.