There are people whose sense of guilt and shame persuade them that they cannot ever be saved. They believe their sin is so great that God could never love them nor forgive them. They, in effect, elevate their sin above the power and love of God, convinced that they are doomed to eternal destruction.
Indeed there are people who have done terrible things, but there is no one whom God cannot save. Think about some examples of people who did terrible things whom God forgave and then used them to do some very amazing things in service to Him.
• Saul of Tarsus persecuted the early Christians, hunted them down, put them in prison and even participated in killing some of them. (Acts 8:1-3). But he became Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles and spread the gospel all around the Roman world of the first century. He had – and has – a profound impact on world history even to this day.
• David committed adultery with another man’s wife, got her pregnant and to cover up the affair he had the husband murdered. (2 Samuel 11). Yet is was said of him that he was a man after God’s own heart. David was always aware of how great his sin was, but also was always profoundly grateful to God for His mercy and grace in forgiving him. (Psalm 51:3).
• There was the Samaritan woman at the well who had had five husbands and was living with a man who wasn’t her husband. Jesus told her to go and sin no more. She went and began telling others about how she had met the Messiah. (John 4).
• Rahab, a common prostitute, was used by God, and because of her compassion and obedience to Him she and her family were the only in people in the city of Jericho to be saved. (Joshua 2).
Look at how Paul thought of his life after the Lord saved him…
“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20 ESV).
Paul was keenly aware of both the depth of his own sin and the price Christ paid to redeem him. He knew that because the price of redemption was so great he could no longer live as he once did. He now owed a debt that he could not repay. The only thing he could do was to live from that moment on as though it was Christ living instead of himself because he had so completely given himself to his Lord. It was now His will he sought above his own. He wanted to so live that when people looked at him they would see Jesus.
The same price was paid for you and me. Peter said…
“…you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.” (1 Pet. 1:18-19).
How will you respond to this unexcelled gift? Will you be “crucified” with Him in order that you may live for Him? How do you do that?
First you must believe that Jesus is the Son of God – which means that you recognize Him as the Lord of your life, entitled to rule over all of your life.
“I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins.” (John 8:24).
Obviously, one must turn away from sin or repent. When the people who heard Peter on the day of Pentecost proclaim Jesus as Lord, they cried out, “Brothers, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37). How can one respect the Lordship of Jesus and hold onto their sin?
Peter answered their request by telling them to “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins,” (Acts 2:38).
But why be baptized? Some object that baptism isn’t necessary for salvation – that baptism is a work and we would be earning our salvation. Peter, in this verse told the people that baptism was for (in order to obtain) the forgiveness of their sins. He again tells us what baptism is for…
“Baptism, which corresponds to this, (Noah’s salvation by water, mr), now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,” (1 Peter 3:21).
Remember what these people had been accused of doing. He said that they had “crucified and killed [the Son of God] by the hands of lawless men” (Acts 2:23). They had participated in the murder of the very one who had come to save them. By obeying Him and being baptized they were showing their subjection to Him as their King. They were bowing themselves to His authority. They were appealing to Him to give them a good conscience by receiving the salvation He offers. Even those people were not beyond the saving power of the blood of Jesus!
No, there is no sin too great for Him to forgive. If He could forgive even the people who cried out for His crucifixion – who stood by jeering as He died for them – He can forgive anything you or I have done. Truly His grace is greater than our sin!