Will God forgive a murderer?

Published 8:44 am Friday, December 8, 2017

QUESTION: Several years ago, I committed a murder; as I grow older I become more and more concerned with my salvation. My question is, can I still go to heaven, will God forgive me?
To answer your question, I want us to focus not on what men may think of you and the actions you have taken in the past but rather on what God says concerning sin and the forgiveness of it. Jesus said, “He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad. Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come” (Mat 12:31-32 KJV). Jesus teaches that all sins except for blasphemy of the Holy Spirit are sins that are forgivable.
In Ezekiel 18 we learn that when one turns from his wickedness, regardless of what it is, that he saves himself from his previous sins. (Eze. 18:27-28 KJV) – Again, when the wicked man turneth away from his wickedness that he hath committed, and doeth that which is lawful and right, he shall save his soul alive. Because he considereth and turneth away from all his transgressions that he hath committed, he shall surely live, he shall not die.” According to Ezekiel sins are forgiven when one turns from them and then is obedient to God.
The inspired writer James agrees with Ezekiel and Jesus. James said, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. (8) Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded” (James 4:7-8 KJV).
From 2 Samuel 12, we learn that King David caused the murder of Uriah the Hittite. David was trying to cover up his adulterous affair with Bathsheba and her pregnancy. When the prophet of God, Nathan, came to David we see that God accused David of the murder as if he had delivered the death blow himself. Nathan said, “Thou hast killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword, and hast taken his wife to be thy wife, and hast slain him with the sword of the children of Ammon. Upon David’s repentance, God forgave him of his sin. And Nathan said to David, “The LORD also has put away your sin; you shall not die. However, because by this deed you have given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child also who is born to you shall surely die” (2 Samuel 12:13-14).
In the New Testament, we read of the apostle Paul and his life prior to becoming a child of God. His story is yet another of God’s forgiveness of penitent man. Before his obedience to God, Paul was known as Saul and we only need to read a few passages to see that he was involved in the murder of God’s people. He was involved in Stephen’s death (Acts 7:54-8:1). Early in his life he made persecuting, imprisoning and murdering Christians his goal. Luke wrote, “As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison” (Acts 8:3). Paul described his actions in (Acts 26:10-11 KJV), “Which thing I also did in Jerusalem: and many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them. (11) And I punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities.
Even in the case of Saul, we see that our God is forgiving to those who will repent an obey His Word (1 Tim. 1:12-15). Paul described it in this manner, “This I also did in Jerusalem, and many of the saints I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I cast my vote against them. And I punished them often in every synagogue and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly enraged against them, I persecuted them even to foreign cities” (Acts 26:10-11). After all his sin, Jesus sought out Saul and salvation was offered to this murderer of Christians. “I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry, although I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man; but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. And the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant, with faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. 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” (I Tim. 1:12-16). In his letter to Timothy, in 2 Tim. 4:7-8 Paul said, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give to me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love His appearing”.
It is easy to see and understand that God will forgive any man that is willing to repent and turn to Him in obedience, relying on his mercy and judgment (2Peter 3:9, Ezekiel 18:27-32).
(Tony Hoss is minister at the the Centerview Church of Christ .To submit a question or for information or study, contact him at (423-737-2287) or e-mail: CenterviewCOC@comcast.net)

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