God is Powerful Enough to Forgive Even You

I have heard many people say, “I could never make heaven my home because of the terrible life I have lived. I have done so many bad and sinful things in my life, God would never forgive me of my sins.” The individuals that make this claim have not studied God’s word enough. Some of the leading characters in the Bible engaged in some very sinful activites.

Abraham was chosen by God to be the father of a great nation and bless all the families of the earth in him. In Genesis 12:12-13 Abraham went down into Egypt. He was afraid Pharaoh would kill him to get his beautiful wife Sarah, so he said Sarah was his sister. He lied. We also see in Genesis 20:1-2 that Abraham went to Gerar where there was a king named Abimelech. Abraham again feared for his life and told King Abimelech that Sarah was his sister. He had a habit of not telling the truth.

Abraham and Sarah had a child in their old age, the child was named Isaac. Isaac also married a beautiful woman named Rebekah. In Genesis 26:6-7, Isaac, like his father, told the men in Gerar that Rebekah was his sister. He also was a liar.

Isaac and Rebekah had twin sons named Esau and Jacob. Esau was the oldest twin and therefore was supposed to receive the birthright and his father’s blessing. Jacob took advantage of Esau and was able to get Esau’s birthright for a bowl of pottage. Rebekah loved Jacob more that Esau. She overheard Isaac, her husband, telling Esau to go into the field and get some venison to make him a savory meat dish, and he would give him his blessing before he died. Rebekah devised a plan to deceive her aged husband who had lost most of his eye sight.  She had Jacob get a kid from the flock and kill it so she could make a savory meat dish. Because Esau was a hairy man, she took the animal’s skin and put it on Jacob’s arms so Isaac would think Jacob was Esau. When Jacob took the meat to Isaac, he asked are you Esau, and Jacob said yes he was and received his father blessing. This family continues to lie and deceive.

Another great Bible character was King David. In II Samuel 11 there is an account of David walking on the roof and saw a beautiful woman, Bathsheba, taking a bath. He lusted after her and sent one of his messengers to bring her to him. The Bible said he “lay with her” and the woman conceived and was with child. David tried to hide his sin by bringing her husband Uriah home from fighting the King’s battles. Uriah was a very loyal soldier and would not sleep with his wife because his fellow soldiers were sleeping in the fields. David then tried to get Uriah intoxicated thinking he would then go into his wife, this also failed. He sent Uriah back to the battle. David then sent word to Joab, his commander, to put Uriah on the front line and withdraw the troops. Joab followed David’s command resulting in Uriah’s death. David committed adultery and had a brave and loyal soldier murdered. God sent the prophet Nathan to confront David about his sin. Nathan did that and David, deeply grieved because of his sin, repented. In Psalm 32:5, David said,  “Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity, I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,’ and you forgave the guilt of my sins.    In Acts 13:22, Stephen quoted the Lord saying “I have found David the son of Jesse a man after my own heart.”

The great apostle Paul said in I Timothy 1:15, “This is a faithful saying and worthily of all acceptation that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.” In Romans 7:7-25, Paul was very frustrated and says over and over when he tried to do right he kept sinning and doing carnal things.

From these examples, it is quite apparent that many of the outstanding Bible characters did many sinful things, including lying, deceitful acts, adultery, and murder. When they repented God forgave and forgot their sins. If you think you have lived too sinful of a life for God to forgive you, realize you cannot limit the power of God to forgive. If God’s forgiveness was powerful enough to forgive these folks, it is powerful enough to forgive even you.

–Don Adair

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Psalm 51:5 Does Not Teach We are Born in Sin

Used with permission from Gilbert PhotoPsalm 51:5 says: “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me” (ESV).

This is a playground for Calvinists who desire to claim every person is born a sinful creature worthy of death even from conception because we all carry the sin of Adam within us or we all sinned in Adam. David is held to be the example. He was conceived in sin, so are we all. 

But is that really what David was saying? Was he really saying my little children were guilty of sin from the moment they were conceived? Or was he saying something entirely different?

The Calvinist makes one huge error when he yanks this verse out as his prooftext for the Total Depravity position. He forgets the genre of this passage. This is not a doctoral thesis on sin. It is not a doctrinal assertion about how sin works. This is a poem; it is filled with all the devices of ancient Hebrew poetry including the use of figurative language. Don’t balk here. I am not just waving the magic “It’s figurative” wand because I can do nothing else with the passage. In actuality, when we are done reading the passage we will note that the one who wants to take this verse literally needs to show why we should take this one verse out of all the others literally.

Consider a survey of this Psalm.

  1. Psalm 51:1 – “blot out my transgressions” — Do we seriously think God is going to take an ink pen and blot the ink down on David’s transgressions to get rid of them?
  2. Psalm 51:2 – “Wash me…cleanse me” — Is David saying he needs a bath in order to remove the guilt of his sin?
  3. Psalm 51:3 – “My sin is ever before me” — What is David saying here? Do we believe that literally his sin with Bathsheba is right in front of his face 24 hours a day?
  4. Psalm 51:4 – “Against you, you only, have I sinned” — Really? What about his sin against Uriah? What about the one against Bathsheba? What about his sin against his own body? What about his sin against the nation of which he was king? Do we believe that literally the only one sinned against in this story was God?
  5. Psalm 51:7 – “Purge me with hyssop…wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow” — Does David really mean for God to take the hyssop plant and get rid of his sins by bleaching him?
  6. Psalm 51:8 – “Let the bones you have broken rejoice” — Did God really break David’s bones?
  7. Psalm 51:10 – “Create in me a clean heart” — Was David looking for some kind of surgical procedure to dust off the old ticker?

This first half of the psalm is completely full of figurative language. Not to mention the two verses before the one in question make two huge exaggerations. We call those hyperboles. They are a great figurative device to arrest our attention and cause us to stop and think about what is being said. No, David was not literally looking at his sin with Bathsheba 24 hours a day. Rather, his sin was filling his mind. He was finding it hard to think about anything else. No, God was not the only victim of David’s sin. Rather, the fact that he sinned against God was so much more important than his sin against every one else that David wanted to highlight it.

The hyperbole continues in Psalm 51:5. David is not saying that he literally sinned at the point of conception. Rather, he is exaggerating the claim of how guilty he is to explain how deeply he feels his own guilt. It is as if there has been nothing but sin in his life from the very beginning.

Here is the challenge for everyone who wants to take this verse literally. In the midst of all this figure and hyperbole, prove this verse is to be taken literally. Feel free to comment and let us know why it should be taken literally. If you can’t prove this, then at the very least, remove this verse from your list of prooftexts for this doctrine.

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