So you screwed up big time. You did it your own way and your world came crashing down. Now you’re broke, desperate and afraid to get out of bed. And if you’re honest with yourself, this may be the only reason you’re turning to Jesus now. So even your motives suck. You’re drowning. All you want is to be rescued.
But there’s two things you did right. You admitted to Him you’re wrong. And you admitted to Him you want forgiveness. It would be nice if you could feel guilty. But you don’t. You’re scared and you want deliverance. That’s it.
And so you wonder: Will the Holy all powerful God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob be there to help me? You know you don’t deserve it. And if a friend betrayed you like you did the Lord, you would never accept them back. So is there any hope for you?
If it were up to me, I might say you deserve wrath and justice. But it’s not up to me. God is bigger than I am. And He’s better too! So let’s see what the Bible says about those who repent to Jesus only to save their skins.
The Thief On The Cross
First there was the thief on the cross. In both Matthew and Mark it says there were two robbers hung next to Jesus and both hurled curses at Him. But later one thief knowing he would soon be dead, said to Him “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Luke 23:42
And Jesus answered him with “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” So did Jesus forget who He was dealing with? Was Jesus unaware of the thief’s motives?
The Parable of The Prodigal Son
If you remember, this was the man who wanted his inheritance now. The son who couldn’t wait for his father to die! That was what he was saying by asking for it early. By ancient standards, this was an outrageous request. His father had every right to cut him off even for asking!
Worse, once he had his dad’s money, he did the unthinkable. He abandoned his father, moved to a far land, and then squandered it all on loose living and prostitutes. Finally, broke and starving, he turns back to his father expecting nothing but to be treated as a hired hand. And what does his father do? The father was so overjoyed to have him back, he reinstates him as a son!
Facts On Forgiveness-Why Jesus Told Us This Parable
No one is too bad for the Father to forgive. And the Father’s forgiveness is always for a greater purpose. Jesus told this parable to sinners. His audience were the common people of Judah. People who for centuries had defied God, and turned back to Him only in desperation.
So Consider The Following About The Son:
- The son disrespected the father by asking for the inheritance early. It was as if he were saying “Dad, I want what I want, so either die or give it to me now.”
- The son twice disrespected the father by abandoned him for wine women and song. He chose to leave him for immorality.
- The son thrice disrespected his father by squandering the father’s money on prostitutes. If he was to honor is father, he was to honor his father’s money.
- The son returned to the father because he was starving. Not because he felt guilty for his sins.
- The son had faith that even after all his wrongs, his father would still take care of him. (even if only as a lowly servant.)
So Consider The Following About The Father:
- The Father saw the son from a long way off and knew why he came back. The father would see his son’s threadbare clothes, his taut skin and his decrepit condition. The father would know he returned only because his son was broke and starving.
- The Father embraced him and clothed him in a robe, a ring and sandals.
- The Father reinstated him as his son! He was to be honored and protected.
- The Father chastised the older brother for lack of compassion, urging him to rejoice over the son who was dead but is now alive!
In short, the Father forgave the son, not because the son was good. But because the Father was good! And the son had the sense to turn back to him.
God Would Never Tell You To Do Something He Wouldn’t Do
On a final note, consider how many times we are asked to forgive one another? Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother who sins against me? Up to seven times?” And Jesus answered, “I tell you, not just seven times, but seventy-seven times!”
Would God ask you to do something He Himself wouldn’t do? Jesus did virtually everything so we would know how the father does things. Jesus washed others feet and forgave wrongs to show we should do the same.
So if He’s asking us to do it, you can bet the Lord will do even more, especially for those who cry out to Him. “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:11).
God’s Forgiveness is Free But It’s Not Cheap
I must leave you with this warning. Our Lord is a loving, wonderful, powerful God. But He is also a holy God. Our God is a God of standards. He has righteous anger. You can’t game the system. He knows what you are thinking even before you do!
For some, He allows them to forsake Him over and over again. Others, He takes them out in a flash! We may never know if Ananias and Sapphira were true believers. The scary thing is they could have been. And if so, we will see them in paradise.
But once they crossed the line, God took them out right then and there. So please don’t play with repentance. The line God draws in the sand is different for everyone. Play it safe. You can’t go wrong if you stay in relationship with Him!