Monday, November 23, 2015

Can a Terrorist Be Forgiven

Devotion VIDEO here

Seek the Lord while you can find him.
    Call on him now while he is near.
Let the wicked change their ways
    and banish the very thought of doing wrong.
Let them turn to the Lord that he may have mercy on them.
    Yes, turn to our God, for he will forgive generously.
“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord.
    “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.
For just as the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so my ways are higher than your ways
    and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.  Isaiah 55:6-9
This passage speaks very clearly that the forgiveness of God, while admittedly beyond human understanding, is available to even the worst criminal; even more astounding, His forgiveness is available to me.  When we are willing to turn from our wickedness, in both thought and deed, turning instead to God…He forgives; no qualifiers!

But does that extend to the terrorists of Paris?

Somehow the thought of the thugs who wrecked such unthinkable atrocities in Paris just ten days ago finding forgiveness – well it just goes against decency.  It rubs this cat in all the wrong directions.

But that’s just the point – God’s ways are much higher, so different, and far beyond the imagination of this cat.  I have so little idea what God can do.

I have been asked many times WHY God does that; why does He forgive such awful people? 

The reminder that I usually supply is that God forgives anyone who truly repents – repentance meaning a heartfelt turn from what I have done, admitting it is wrong, and a willingness (with God’s help) to forsake that kind of thought and deed in the future.

But absent of repentance, there is no forgiveness. 

And, absent of forgiveness, there IS punishment for sin:

 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.  Romans 6:23(NLT)

There are those who suppose that, in the end, God will just give everyone a “do-over” – that somehow “love wins” means the grace will cover every sin and even the unrepentant suicide bomber will receive a Get-Out-of-Jail-Free card.  Well, that’s a much longer discussion, but simply put:  if that’s so, we are wasting our time proclaiming the Gospel…let’s go have a drink, do some heroin, and go shoot up the town, because sin and terrorism don’t matter.

But it does matter; and what matters more, is that even if a person’s life has been filled with monstrous deeds, like Hitler or Osama bin Laden, repentance – unqualified true turning from the heart to the mercy of God– means the grace of forgiveness changes everything.

How can God do that for terrorists?  

A greater question might be:  if He has forgiven any sin at all, how could He not forgive the confessed sin of all?

For You Today

Here’s a verse to dwell on today:

But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.  1 John 1:9(NLT)

Think about that out on the Rocky Road today…and have a great day!

[1] Title image:  By English: Hamid Mir, via Wikimedia Commons

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