Can God Forgive a Lifetime of Sin?
(And how do I know?)
An Opening Comment
This page is for people who want to abandon a sinful life so they can go to heaven instead of hell. By the end of this page, you will know that God can forgive (not “must forgive”) a lifetime of sin. Still, the Bible does not teach that you can continue behaving wrongly now, just because you can be forgiven later. The following passage tells us you will not fool God like that.
7 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.
8 For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.
More importantly, you never really know when or how you will die.
What The Bible SaysAll of us, the best and the worst, sin sooner or later. The Bible states this specifically:
23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God
The Bible also teaches us that the penalty for that sin is severe. Yet, there is a way out . . . Jesus Christ:
23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
God only forgives a sinner if that person accepts Jesus Christ as their savior. The Bible clearly teaches this.
36 He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.
24 “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.”
It is also clear that God has provided a single way for us to be forgiven:
6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”
God clearly desires that all of us be saved (by turning from sin and accepting Jesus as their savior).
9 The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.
Fortunately, even the worst sinners can be forgiven:
15 This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.
16 However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life.
10 Now it happened, as Jesus sat at the table in the house, that behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Him and His disciples.
11 And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to His disciples, “Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
12 When Jesus heard that, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.
13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”
Once people get right with God, they do not have to worry about accidentally losing their salvation (ability to go to heaven). For example:
38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come,
39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
So now you know that a lifetime of sin can be forgiven. Yet merely knowing this fact (intellectually) will not allow you to go to heaven. You need to do something with the knowledge you now have. We call that process “getting right with God.” To learn how, click on the link below.
Copyright © 1999 by Clarifying Christianity (SM).
Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
All information contained in Clarifying Christianity is a resource for questions dealing with Christian issues. It is not to be taken as Christian counseling. Seek a qualified Christian counselor for help with all such issues. If you choose to work with a Christian counselor, it is your responsibility to ask pertinent questions before you begin, to assure yourself of their qualities and abilities.68