Is forgiveness possible? It may sound like a silly question, especially to a Christian audience that I assume knows what the Bible says about God’s grace and redemption and the forgiveness of sin through faith in Christ. But even for Christians, sometimes “forgiveness” is only a word lost in a stack of abstract theological language that we speak and confess and recite and even affirm in the liturgy.
But if you’re anything like me, all that doesn’t matter if I can’t receive forgiveness into the depths of my soul and experience its liberating, life-changing power and taste its sweetness.
So, let me ask the question again: Is forgiveness possible? Can a thief be forgiven? What about an adulterer? What about a woman who’s had an abortion, or a man who’s paid for one? What about those failures, those sins, committed long ago, forgotten by everyone else but still lingering in our spiritual memory, sins whose guilt and shame we carry around tucked away safely in our hearts?
Is forgiveness possible?
Why is it so important for us to answer that question? Simply because the only sin that can be defeated is a sin that has been forgiven. There are countless natural ways to overcome bad habits and repeated failures: therapies, formulas, will-power, etc. But they all produce only self-righteousness, not the righteousness of God.
Being right with God must precede doing right for God. That’s why our question is so crucial. Let me answer the question by telling you a story, one with which you’re probably quite familiar.
All of us have been in situations when we were desperate for a friend, just one person to stand with us to face the hard things in life. Jesus was no exception. If ever Jesus needed a friend, this was the time. Earlier in his ministry, Jesus had often wanted to be alone. He would quietly slip aw