Given how heinous some of the behaviors in this world really are, it’s no wonder that one of the biggest questions on the minds of both believers and nonbelievers alike is: does God forgive all sins?
Forgiveness is one of the central themes in the Bible, and God is a forgiving being. We do not have to live in fear of our sins.
Let me clarify that because it’s important not to misinterpret that concept.
Doesn’t the Bible say we should fear God?
Yes, actually it does. But fearing God is different than fearing that our sins won’t be forgiven.
Here’s how that works…
Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning.”Exodus 20:20
Wait, that sounds contradicting, doesn’t it? In one sentence, Moses says “do not be afraid.” But in the next sentence, he says “the fear of God” keeps you from sinning.
Which one is it? To fear, or not to fear?
When Moses says not to be afraid, he’s referring to being on the wrong side of the epic battle of good versus evil. He’s saying that God is for us and we are not to fear the enemy — which is to say, all that is evil.
If God is for us, who can be against us?Romans 8:31
When you have the creator of everything on your side, what can possibly defeat you?
The Lord is my light and my salvation–whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life–of whom shall I be afraid?Psalm 27:1
Again, when the all-powerful God is in your ring corner, what exactly is there to fear?
“…no weapon forged against you will prevail, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and this is their vindication from me,” declares the Lord.Isaiah 54:17
Ah, light bulb! Did you catch the fine print in your metaphorical contract with God?
He’s on your side and will protect you, but you are to obey him and live your life as a servant to the Lord.
But what does fear of God have to do with forgiveness of sins?
Now that we know that God has our backs, the question is why must we fear him? If he’s on our side, why couldn’t we just run amok and commit any sin we wanted as if we had a “get out of jail free” card in our back pockets?
Because God’s protection is “the heritage of his servants”, as Isaiah 54:17 points out. And how do we become servants of the Lord? By doing his will and fleeing from sin.
That takes us back to what Moses said in Exodus 20:20: “the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning.”
The book of Proverbs adds to that principle.
The fear of the Lord adds length to life, but the years of the wicked are cut short.Proverbs 10:27
The fear of the Lord leads to life; then one rests content, untouched by trouble.Proverbs 19:23
What does the Bible mean by “adding length to life”, or “leading to life?”
Well, eternal life, of course.
And how do we get eternal life? Through grace and forgiveness by God. Grace that cannot be earned by our works, but that can be demonstrated by our faith and trust in our Savior Jesus Christ.
But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.1 John 1:7
It still might be a difficult concept for some to grasp that God would forgive all sins, even some that are so reprehensible to our common civic morality.
But to God, there is no scale in the size of sin. A sin is a sin and all sins are punishable by death.
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.Romans 6:23
As you can see, it’s not the “size” of the sin that God uses as a determinant of whether to forgive someone or not — because sin size does not exist.
It’s whether a person is truly repentant for his or her sins and where his or her heart lies that God uses as a basis for forgiveness.
And how does one prove where his heart lies? By confessing.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.1 John 1:9
Does God forgive all sins? Of course he does. And the equation is simple, yet not always easy: Fear God, love Jesus, and confess when you have sinned against him.