by Jefferson David Tant
Some whose lives have been so sinful and far removed from God think they are so bad that God could not forgive them. But the Bible says otherwise. Whether one is a member of the “Hell’s Angels” gang or was a member of Adolph Hitler’s or Joseph Stalin’s or Muhammad’s armies that brutally slaughtered untold millions of innocent people, there is an answer to be found.
To begin, note the apostle Paul’s words to the Christians at Ephesus: “Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)” (Ephesians 2:3-5).
Now consider a few Bible cases. King David did some pretty bad things. First, there was lust, as he looked upon his neighbor Bathsheba while she was bathing (though she shouldn’t have been where she could be seen). He then called for her to come and committed adultery with her. She became pregnant, and trying to hide his sin, he called for her husband to come home on furlough from the battlefield, thinking he would go into his wife, and then assume he was the father. But Uriah’s honor did not permit this while his companions were on the battlefield. So David sent him back to the battlefield with sealed instructions for the commander to place Uriah on the front lines and then withdraw the others and leave Uriah to be exposed and subsequently killed.
So, what happened? Lust, adultery, deceit, murder. Now note David’s words in Psalm 103:2-4: “Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget none of His benefits; Who pardons all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases; Who redeems your life from the pit, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion.”
Then there is Paul, who in his early years helped in the jailing and slaughter of Christians. And who wrote the words quoted above in Ephesians? Note Paul’s words to the mob in Acts 22:3-4: “I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city, educated under Gamaliel, strictly according to the law of our fathers, being zealous for God just as you all are today. I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and putting both men and women into prisons.”
What about Peter, one of Christ’s closest friends? As Christ was being tried, Peter was watching nearby. Three times he was accused of being a disciple of Christ. Three times Peter denied it, and note the third denial. “And after a little while the bystanders were again saying to Peter, “Surely you are one of them, for you are a Galilean too.” But he began to curse and swear, “I do not know this man you are talking about!” (Mark 14:69-71). How sad that he cursed and swore!
On Pentecost, note the close of Peter’s sermon to the thousands that were gathered. "'Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ -- this Jesus whom you crucified.' Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, 'Brethren, what shall we do?' Peter said to them, 'Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit'” (Acts 2:36-38). This message applies to all — even you!