It’s been too long. You’ve smoked too long. You’ve been mean and judgmental too long. You’ve slept with too many people. You’ve tried and failed to get over your pornography or pill addiction too long. You’ve cheated people out of too much money. You’ve told too many lies. You’ve destroyed too many people’s reputations. You’ve been violent toward your spouse too long. You’ve had too many abortions.
Perhaps as an OB-Gyn physician that last one hits close to home for me. I was on a missions trip in another country when a local pastor’s wife asked to talk with me. Through her tears she asked me if I thought God could forgive her because she had undergone several abortions. There was no safe contraception available to her, and she and her husband felt they couldn’t afford to raise any more children.
Another time I was seeing a patient for her first prenatal visit, and asking all the usual questions. When I asked, “Have you ever been pregnant before” she burst into tears. “Yes. Three times. Three abortions.” She was ashamed and covered with guilt. Did she have a chance with this pregnancy? Could God ever look on her with favor?
God Loves Repeat Sinners
We hear the Christian message of God’s forgiveness, but it’s often hard for us to own it as our own. It can become especially hard when some part of us knows something is wrong but we keep on doing it anyway. Perhaps God could forgive us once, when we first asked Him to. But now that we’re a Christian aren’t things supposed to be different? We even tell other people that God offers them forgiveness, but our own list is too long. Call it weakness, addiction, fear, habit – our faults and failures keep wracking up.
Let me point you to just a few of the times when Jesus met with people just like you and me, who had very long lists of “stuff:”
- Zacchaeus had enriched himself at the expense of taxpayers for years. (Luke 19:2-10)
- The Samaritan woman had been married repeatedly, divorced repeatedly, and was living with someone else now. (John 4:15-18)
- Peter denied Jesus three times – after he had spent 3 years with Him. (John 18:25-27)
- Mary had seven demons. (Some believe this means Jesus had to deliver her seven times.) (Mark 16:9)
- The thief on the cross had a whole life of crime to his credit. (Luke 23:40-43)
- Paul had hunted down, imprisoned, and killed many believers in Jesus. (Acts 9:1-2)
Jesus was no stranger to habitual sinners.
And He never turned one away. (John 6:37)
And He doesn’t turn you away either.
What to Do Now
I don’t know exactly what steps it will take for you to break your bad habit, recover from your addiction, find healing for your shame, stop destroying other people’s lives, or whatever “leave your life of sin” means for you. (John 8:11)
But I do know that the only way to do so is for you to bring it to Jesus. You can’t get over it on your own. The bigger the load you’re carrying, the greater the need for you to leave it at the foot of the cross. Over and over again if necessary.
There’s no way to get over your shame except to uncover it in Jesus’ presence and have Him heal you. There’s no way to get a new heart except to give God permission to change the one you have and then do everything He tells you to do. There’s no way to have a radically changed behavior except to allow God to change you on the inside first.
Your list is not too long for God.
Does God forgive when we keep on sinning? YES.
And He continues to offer us a new heart so that we don’t have to keep on doing so.
Now let’s encourage each other to stick around long enough for Him to give us the heart transplant we so desperately need. (Ezekiel 36:26) Don’t quit before your miracle.
Your Turn: Has some part of you wondered if God could truly forgive you? How have you dealt with that question? Leave a comment below.
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