Is what I have done too bad to be forgiven?
This article covers the second question on this list, “is what I have done too bad to be forgiven?” The answer is almost certainly not. Jesus does state:
“Therefore, I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven.”
However, before you begin to worry, it’s important to look at this saying in context. Look at why Jesus says it and the circumstances that surround it. Jesus had just healed a man and the Pharisees had attributed that power to an evil force. They had said that God’s own power was evil, that it was being used for evil. This one verse is just the end of Jesus’ reply to the Pharisees.
Instead of focusing on the minority let’s focus on the majority, let’s look at all the things that God has forgiven and that he has set on record as having been forgiven. They are set on record for us so that when we go wrong, no matter how badly, we can know that God will forgive, because he has forgiven before! We’re going to have a look at a couple of men in the Bible who did terrible things but were forgiven by God. There would have been people in these men’s lives who would have been unable to forgive them for the things they had done, but God did forgive them, and he is the most important one.
Firstly then, let’s look at one you may or may not be familiar with: King David. David was a king in ancient Israel, he was generally a good king and a good man. In fact, he was referred to by God as a man after God’s own heart. But like all of us David made mistakes in his life, he did things wrong, he sinned. Perhaps the most famous (or infamous) incident was with Bathsheba. Bathsheba was a beautiful woman, and she was married to one of David’s closest friends, a man who had followed David since before he was king, who had always been by his side. Uriah was away fighting a war for David. While Uriah was away, in a moment of weakness David slept with Bathsheba and got her pregnant. To cover this up, he first arranged to have Uriah come home from the war, he got his friend very drunk and tried to convince him to go home and sleep with his wife so that David’s own sin could be covered up. Uriah however was too honourable a man for this and he felt terrible that while his fellow soldiers were away fighting, he would be sleeping in his own bed, so he didn’t go home. David’s next step was far more drastic, he sent Uriah back to the war carrying a note to the commander asking that Uriah be put in the thick of the fighting, effectively guaranteeing his death.
Let’s just pause here a minute then and consider the things that David has done:
- He has slept with another man’s wife.
- He has betrayed his friend.
- He has then lied to and tried to deceive his friend even further.
- Finally, even if his was not the hand that held the sword, he has plotted the murder of his friend.
By the letter of the law, David should have died for these things, but God forgives him. Why? Because God can see into David’s heart and he can see how truly sorry David is; he can see all the anguish that this has been causing him. He knows how badly David wants God’s forgiveness and not just forgiveness but to have the strength not to make the same mistakes again. Psalm 51 (again a psalm written by David) illustrates this perfectly:
“Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin! For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.
... Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.
... For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.”
Psalm 51:2-3, 10, 16-17
The whole psalm carries the same sentiment, but these are a few of my favourites. The last one, (verses 16 and 17), most of all. It shows us what God wants from us when we do wrong, he doesn’t want us to make huge elaborate sacrifices, he doesn’t want us to pay penance, what he wants is for us to be really and truly sorry. He wants us to recognise our sins and to be sorry for them! Another man that God forgave was King Manasseh of Judah, (2 Kings 21 & 2 Chronicles 33), a man of whom it was said that he “shed very much innocent blood, till he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another”, and yet God forgave him, why? Because “when he was in distress, he entreated the favour of the LORD his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers.” So, despite these terrible things he had done, God was able to forgive him because he humbled himself, he recognised that he was in the wrong, that he had done terrible things. It took King Manasseh being held captive for him to realise this and to humble himself. It’s the same for us sometimes isn’t it? It takes times of real hardship for us to finally turn to God and ask for his forgiveness, but it is always there for us when we do humble ourselves and come to him.