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Sometimes seeking forgiveness seems risky or even hopeless. Too often, people say they forgive you but continue to hold grudges. When that happens, resentment creeps in, and they may start questioning your motives and character. Their affection for you shrivels up, and they keep you at a distance. They find subtle ways to make you pay for what you’ve done. Then when you think you’ve moved forward, they take your mistakes and throw them in your face.

This is the type of baggage we bring into our relationship with God. But God doesn’t forgive half-heartedly or hold a grudge. He doesn’t enjoy stringing you along. He doesn’t need time or space to work through His hurt. He doesn’t withhold blessings out of spite. His love and affection for you don’t change because of your mistakes.

Whatever you have done, God is eager to forgive you. His forgiveness is a complete pardon of your guilt. Guilty is your legal status before God without His forgiveness. We are all guilty of breaking God’s holy standards. We owe restitution for the things we’ve done wrong, and we deserve punishment. But Jesus Christ with His death on the cross pays our debt and takes our punishment on Himself. Unlike human forgiveness, God’s forgiveness means that an actual legal settling of your account has taken place.

God’s forgiveness erases our guilt before Him. It’s over. We are like new snow, fresh and unblemished. Our record of wrongs has been blotted out. We are freed from sin’s power over us. God has cast our sins behind His back and into the sea to be thought of no more. And He will never change His mind—no fishing in the past. At every point, His forgiveness is complete and perfect.

Maybe you can’t believe God wants to forgive you in this way. You may think you’ve rejected Him too many times or fallen into a pattern of sin you just can’t seem to escape. You worry you’ll never measure up, and God will never be pleased with you.

If your sin seems bigger than God’s forgiveness, pray and ask God to help you see Him for who He really is.

Never once does the Bible tell us God won’t forgive us because we aren’t good enough. It tells us the opposite, that “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15). Every person has rejected God’s ways. Our very best efforts are tainted with self-love and willfulness. It’s this rejection of God, rather than kind or degree, that defines sin. Because all sin is a rejection of God, particular sins aren’t harder for God to forgive, and no sin disqualifies someone as a candidate for forgiveness.

We see God’s willingness to forgive all sin at the crucifixion itself. Jesus has been stripped, tortured, beaten, and nailed to a cross for all to see. Just the night before, beads of sweat and blood dripped from His forehead at the thought of what was to come. And yet Jesus forgave the very murderers responsible for putting him there. When God tells us to forgive others, He points to this radical forgiveness as our model and calls us to forgive “as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32).

God wants to forgive us, but within that feeling of not being good enough to be forgiven is a kernel of truth. It’s that sense of shame and remorse we have for our sins. The world tells us guilt is bad, but guilt is actually a gift. Like pain, it alerts us that something is wrong: Your hand is in the fire—move it. Guilt tells us we crossed the line and need to re-chart our course. It signals our need for God. Without it, consciences become hardened as people move farther from Him. But guilt is only where we’re meant to start, not where we’re meant to stay.

Guilt is meant to push us into God’s open, waiting arms. It’s as though you call to apologize, but the person you’ve hurt shows up on your doorstep while the phone is ringing with a picnic lunch to share. You’ve dialed the number thinking you’re making the first move, but the other person is already moving toward you in reconciliation. God is already moving toward you in reconciliation through Jesus’ death on the cross.

When we don’t believe God wants to forgive us, our sins become liabilities that we can never make right…so we hide them or deny them. Concealing our sins is the worst possible response. But to those who admit their sins and their need for Him, God promises mercy. When we confess, “He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

Asking for forgiveness is an act of faithful obedience. It requires faith because it can be hard to believe we’re forgiven and that God truly loves us. But trusting God means believing His promises more than our feelings. When we doubt, we must hold fast to His Word and ask for His help to make it real to us. We may pray that a hundred times a day for weeks before His forgiveness starts to feel real. On the other hand, it may feel real right away. Regardless, we know the reality. If He says it is finished, it is finished.

Additional Resources

Psalm 103:10–14
Isaiah 43:25
1 John 1:8–9
Gospel (one-page PDF)

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What is the essence of the Gospel message?

From the book of Genesis through the book of Revelation, the Bible shares a relational message. This message is called the Gospel (or Good News). The Good News of Jesus Christ is expressed in 6 basic statements.

  1. Humanity was created for relationship with God (Genesis 2–3; Leviticus 26:12).
  2. Our sin separated us from that relationship (Isaiah 59:2; Romans 3:23).
  3. There is nothing that we can do to reconcile this relationship on our own (Ephesians 2:1–9).
  4. Jesus died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sin (Romans 5:8–10; Ephesians 2:13–16; 1 John 4:9–10).
  5. Jesus rose from the dead that we might have life (1 Peter 1:3).
  6. Jesus offers eternal life (or a reconciled relationship) to those who will repent of their sin by placing faith in Jesus Christ (John 3:16; John 17:3; Acts 2:38).

How can you receive eternal life?

John 3:36 tells us that “He who believes in the Son has eternal life.” A person receives eternal life by placing faith in what Jesus has done for them. What did Jesus do for them? He died on the cross for their sins, He rose from the dead that they might have life, and He offers eternal life to anyone who will repent of their sin by placing faith in Christ.

Following Christ is a journey that never ends, but it can begin with a simple prayer. Use this prayer to guide you. “God, I know that I’ve sinned. I recognize that my sin has separated me from you. I believe that Jesus died on the cross for my sin, and He rose again on the third day. As best I know how, I turn from my sin by placing faith in what Jesus has done for me. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.”

If you have placed faith in Christ today, we encourage you to share this decision with others. For more resources on this new relationship with God, go to

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