“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.” (John 3:16-18)
Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:32).
Our sins have brought us under God’s condemnation (Romans 6:23), but the whole reason why he sent Jesus to earth was to reconcile us to God and to save us from our sins and from their penalty, death and hell.
God longs to extend us his grace, mercy and forgiveness, but we must receive it on his terms:
God is perfect in holiness and cannot be in the presence of sin. Sadly, our sins have alienated us from him, “…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). God declares that, “…the wages [consequences] of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).
In order to save us from the just penalty that our sins deserve, God sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to die as the substitute and ransom for all those who would believe in him. Jesus lived the perfect, sinless life none of us could live, then he took upon himself all of our sins and bore the punishment for them through his death on the cross. He rose from the dead three days later making reconciliation with God possible.
In order to be forgiven of your sins and reconciled to God you must first repent (confess and turn away) from your sins. God says:
“If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:8-9)
Second, you must trust in Jesus as your personal savior, believing that he paid the full punishment for your sins through his death on the cross. Jesus promises us, “…whoever comes to me I will never drive away” (John 6:37).
Be assured that God fervently longs to have a close, loving, personal relationship with each one of us. He already knows full well that we are sinners, for he sees everything we do and knows every motive of our hearts. He knows full well that we are helplessly guilty in our sins and have no excuse, BUT…..he still loves us anyway! Not only that, but he has gone to the greatest lengths to reconcile us to himself and to bring us into an eternal loving relationship with himself. We just need to confess our sins to him and receive it in faith.
“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless [to overcome sin and to redeem ourselves from our sin’s just penalty], Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:6-8)
“This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” (1 John 4:9-10)
We can have complete confidence in God’s mercy when we approach him in honesty to confess our sins. We never need to fear being rejected by him, for he promises: “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away” (John 6:37) (my emphasis). In fact, coming to him is EXACTLY what God wants us to do so that he can forgive us and wash our sins away. Listen to the following parable Jesus told:
“Two men went to the Temple to pray. One was a Pharisee [a religious leader who focused on obeying all God’s commands to the utmost] and the other was a despised tax collector [a notorious sinner]. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed this prayer: ‘I thank you, God, that I am not a sinner like everyone else. For I don’t cheat, I don’t sin, and I don’t commit adultery. I’m certainly not like that tax collector! I fast twice a week and I give you a tenth of my income.’
But the tax collector stood at a distance and dared not even lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed. Instead, he beat his chest in sorrow, saying, ‘O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.’ I tell you this sinner, not the Pharisee, returned home justified [forgiven and granted right standing] before God. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Luke 18:10-14)
It doesn’t matter how many sins you’ve committed or how bad they are. As you confess them to God, Jesus takes your punishment for ALL of them (past, present and future sins)–big sins, little sins, habitual sins, sins you don’t think you can be forgiven of, really black sins, sins that don’t seem so black and sins over which you feel like you can’t forgive yourself. All you have to do is go to God with a repentant heart and ask him for forgiveness and he PROMISES to forgive you.
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)
Jesus told the following parable to encourage us that no matter how far we’ve fallen into sin he will always forgive us and take us back when we turn to him in repentance. Notice how much he longs for that day:
“There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.
Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.
When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.’ So he got up and went to his father.
But while was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.
The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.” (Luke 15:1-24)
See also Luke 15:1-10.
Two beautiful songs about the love of God for his prodigals:
For more questions and answers about God, please see “Is God Real?”