Have you done something wrong? You made a poor decision and now you feel condemned? Do you feel all alone and that you are beyond redemption? Are you a backslidden Christian and you believe you’ve blown it? Do you believe that because of what you’ve done even God will not accept you and help you?
Consider what Abraham did. Abraham is considered to be the first man who demonstrated faith in God. He was so close to God that God considered him a friend. “And so it happened just as the Scriptures say: ‘Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.’ He was even called the friend of God.” [James 2:23] God even made a covenant with him that he would be the father of many nations and kings of nations would be among his descendants. [Genesis 17:3-6; Genesis 18:16] God intended that through him, all the nations of the world would be blessed (because Jesus, the Saviour of the world, would be born out of his Abraham’s family lineage) [Genesis 18:17; Luke 3:12 -34].
God called Abram to leave his country, relatives and family and go to a land He (God) would show him [Genesis 12:1]. At that time he was still named Abram (before God renamed him Abraham). Eventually, after leaving his family, he and his wife Sarai (before God renamed her Sarah) arrived in Egypt.
“11 As he was approaching the border of Egypt, Abram said to his wife, Sarai, ‘Look, you are a very beautiful woman.
12 When the Egyptians see you, they will say, “This is his wife. Let’s kill him; then we can have her!”
13 So please tell them you are my sister. Then they will spare my life and treat me well because of their interest in you.’ ” Genesis 12:11-12 [New Living Translation] (My emphasis).
Because of Sarai’s beauty, she was taken into Pharoah’s palace. Pharoah gave Abram many gifts because of her – sheep, goats, cattle, male and female donkeys, male and female servants, and camels.
“17 But the Lord sent terrible plagues on Pharoah and his household because of Sarai, Abram’s wife.
18 So Pharoah summoned Abram and accused him sharply. ‘What have you done to me?’ he demanded. ‘Why didn’t you tell me she was your wife?
19 Why did you say, ‘She is my sister,’ and allow me to take her as my wife? Now then, here is your wife. Take her and get out of here!’
20 Pharoah ordered some of his men to escort them, and he sent Abram out of the country, along with his wife and all his possessions.” Genesis 12:17-20 [New Living Translation] (My emphasis)
When Abram was ninety nine years old, God appeared to him, made a covenant with him that he would be the father of many nations and changed his name to Abraham (meaning “father of a multitude”). God also changed Sarai’s name to Sarah (meaning “noble woman”). [Genesis 17:15-16; Strong’s Concordance 85 and 8283]
Later, Abraham moved to Gerar and again introduced his wife Sarah as his sister to King Abimelech of Gerar. The king sent for Sarah and had her brought to him at his palace. [Genesis 20:1]
“But that night God came to Abimelech in a dream and told him, ‘You are a dead man, for that woman you have taken is already married!’ ” Genesis 20:3 [New Living Translation] Abimelech had not yet slept with her. God also caused Abimelech, his wife, and his female servants to be infertile. [Genesis 20:18]
When confronted by Abimelech, Abraham confessed.
“11 Abraham replied, I thought, ‘This is a godless place. They will want my wife and will kill me to get her.’
12 And she really is my sister, for we both have the same father, but different mothers. And I married her.
13 When God called me to leave my father’s home and to travel from place to place, I told her, “Do me a favor. Wherever we go, tell the people that I am your brother.” Genesis 20:11-13 [New Living Translation]
Then Abimelech gave Abraham sheep, goats, cattle, servants and returned his wife Sarah to him. In addition, Abimelech asked Abraham to choose any place in Abimelech’s land where he would like to live and gave him 1 000 pieces of silver (as compensation for any wrong he may have done against her and to clear her reputation). [Genesis 20:14-16] Abraham then prayed to God and God healed Abimelech, his wife and female servants’ infertility. [Genesis 20:17]
Note that Abraham lied – not once, but twice about his wife. Instead of God condemning and punishing him, He protected Abraham and Sarah and enriched Abraham in both instances! This probably flies in the face of what you expect God to do when someone has sinned! Religious tradition has taught us that God may forgive your sin but will leave you unprotected to suffer the consequences of your sin (if not punish you Himself). God always hates sin but He loves sinners. That’s why He sent his only Son (Jesus) to die for us to save us from sin. “But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” Romans 5:8 [New Living Translation]
Jesus was once confronted by a crowd of Pharisees who had caught a woman in the act of adultery. [The Pharisees were a religious sect who believed in the strict observance of the Law (commandments that were given by God to Moses to apply to the Israelites in response to their disobedience), and carrying out acts of piety (which were in actual fact false piety).] According to the Law, she had to be stoned to death. The Pharisees wanted to see if Jesus would uphold the Law hoping that if He didn’t, they would have cause to accuse Him. Jesus said to them “…let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” John 8:3-7 [New Living Translation]
“9 Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest, even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman was standing in the midst.
10 When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, ‘Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?’
11 ‘No one Lord,’ she said. And Jesus said to her, ‘Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.’ “ John 8: 9-11 [New King James Version] (My emphasis.)
Note that Jesus did this act of mercy under the Old Covenant (Old Testament) when there were strict requirements of fulfilment of the Law and severe penalties for violating the Law. If it were true that God wants you to suffer the consequences of your sin, Jesus should have forgiven her sin but allowed the Pharisees to execute the woman by stoning in accordance with the Law, such punishment being the consequence of her sin.
Under the New Testament i.e. the New Covenant of Jesus Christ under which we live, Jesus fulfilled all the requirements of the Law on our behalf when He was crucified. [Matthew 5:17; Colossians 2:14] The Law was in fact meant to make us aware of our sins [Romans 3:20] and to bring us to Christ that we may be justified by faith. [Galatians 3:24] We now live under a covenant of grace where those who believe in and accept Jesus Christ as their Lord are not subject to any condemnation for their wrongdoing. Through repentance and asking for cleansing in His blood, their trespasses are forgiven.
“So now there is no condemnation for those who are belong to Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:1 [New Living Translation]
It would be a contradiction for God to forgive us our sins and simultaneously wish us to suffer the consequences of the same sins He has forgiven us of.
“14 ‘Because he loves me,’ says the Lord, ‘I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
15 He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.’ ” Psalm 91:14-16 [New International Version]
He will rescue you from the consequences of your own rebellion against Him, if you call upon Him:
“10 Some sat in darkness and deepest gloom, imprisoned in iron chains of misery.
11 They rebelled against the words of God, scorning the counsel of the Most High.
12 That is why he broke them with hard labor; they fell, and no one was there to help them.
13 ‘Lord, help!’ they cried in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress.
14 He led them from the darkness and deepest gloom; he snapped their chains.
15 Let them praise the Lord for his great love and for the wonderful things he has done for them.
16 For he broke down their prison gates of bronze; he cut apart their bars of iron. Psalm 107:10-16 [New Living Translation]
“Some of you were sick because you’d lived a bad life, your bodies feeling the effects of sin; You couldn’t stand the sight of food, so miserable you thought you’d be better off dead. Then you called out to God in your desperate situation; he got you out in the nick of time. He spoke the word that healed you, that pulled you back from the brink of death. So thank God for his marvelous love, for his miracle mercy to the children he loves; Offer thanksgiving sacrifices, tell the world what he has done – sing it out.” Psalm 107:17-22 [The Message Bible]
The following Scripture sums it up: “Give in to God, come to terms with him and everything will turn out just fine.” Job 22:21 [The Message Bible]
Don’t allow feelings of unworthiness or condemnation because of whatever wrong you have done drive you away from God. This is precisely the time to draw close to God for He is a God of mercy. “Indeed, the ‘right time’ is now. Today is the day of salvation.” 2 Corinthians 6:2 [New Living Translation]
Forget your past, receive Christ into your life today and from now on, do your best to live according His Word! The apostle Paul said “No, dear brothers and sisters, I am still not all I should be, but I am focusing all my energies on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us up to heaven.” Philippians 3:12-13 [New Living Translation] (My emphasis)
Jesus loves you just as you are. Never think you have to do good or be a “clean” person first before turning to Jesus. He said: “Healthy people don’t need a doctor – sick people do. I have come to call sinners, not those who think they are already good enough.” Mark 2:17 [New Living Translation] But, be genuine about repenting and changing your ways. Don’t try to use Him just because you are in trouble – He knows your heart.
If you have previously received Christ into your life and you have subsequently backslidden, do not think that you are beyond redemption. It is only if you voluntarily turn your back on Jesus (i.e. finally reject Jesus) that you will lose salvation and it will then be impossible for you to be saved (for there is no other salvation except through Jesus). According to the Bible, it is only when you knowingly turn away from God [i.e. having been enlightened about salvation, having experienced the good things of heaven (having experienced salvation), having experienced fellowship with the Holy Spirit and miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit, having tasted the goodness of the Word of God and the power of the age to come (taken to mean having experienced the power of faith, prayer and God’s supernatural power)], that it becomes impossible to again repent (because you have knowingly and consciously decided to reject Jesus and by so doing you make a mockery of His crucifixion). [Hebrews 6:4-6]
By turning away from God having had all these experiences, you then “fall away” i.e. commit apostasy. As there is nothing more that God can offer you beyond all the above experiences that you have rejected, the Holy Spirit leaves you because of your apostasy. Once this happens, you will not feel any need to repent anymore and therefore it will be impossible for you to come back to Christ. As long as you feel the need to repent (even after backsliding), you have not committed apostasy. Remember that you only come to Jesus through God (the Father) drawing you to Him. [John 6:44] This Scripture confirms that your urge to repent is a result of God drawing you to Jesus, which would not happen if you have truly committed apostasy.
To avoid getting yourself into a situation of possible apostasy, it is important to do your best to stay in obedience to God’s Word (consistently repenting whenever you know you have sinned) [1 John 1:9] otherwise your conscience will over time become seared and insensitive and you will end up no longer seeking repentance and forgiveness for your sins. This is what may realistically lead you to apostasy.
Don’t deny yourself the inheritance of salvation and an eternal life granted you by Jesus on the cross by thinking that you are no longer worthy of redemption. We are all sinners and though we do not deserve God’s grace, He in His love for us has freely given us salvation by His grace through His only Son, Jesus Christ. Take His grace with relish – it pleases God for by so doing, you honour His Son!