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Will God Forgive Me?

Will God Forgive Me?

The Bible’s answer

 Yes, God will forgive your sins if you take the proper steps. The Bible says that God is “ready to forgive” and that he “will forgive in a large way.” (Nehemiah 9:​17; Psalm 86:5; Isaiah 55:7) When he forgives us, he does so completely. Our sins are “blotted out,” or erased. (Acts 3:​19) God also forgives permanently, for he says: “I will no longer remember their sin.” (Jeremiah 31:34) Once he forgives, he does not rehash our sins in order to accuse us or to punish us again and again.

 However, God’s forgiveness is not based on weakness or sentimentality. He never bends his righteous standards. For this reason, he refuses to forgive some sins.​—Joshua 24:19, 20.

Steps to gain God’s forgiveness

  1.   Acknowledge your sin as a violation of God’s standards. While others may have been hurt by what you did, you must first recognize that your sin is an offense against God.​—Psalm 51:​1, 4; Acts 24:16.

  2.   Confess to God in prayer.​—Psalm 32:5; 1 John 1:9.

  3.   Feel a deep sorrow for your sin. This “sadness in a godly way” leads to repentance, or a change of heart. (2 Corinthians 7:​10) It includes regret over the wrong steps that led to the sin.​—Matthew 5:​27, 28.

  4.   Change your course of action, that is, “turn around.” (Acts 3:​19) This could mean that you avoid repeating a single wrong action or practice, or it could mean that you may have to change your whole way of thinking and acting.​—Ephesians 4:​23, 24.

  5.   Take steps to right the wrong or to repair the damage done. (Matthew 5:​23, 24; 2 Corinthians 7:​11) Apologize to those who suffered because of what you did or failed to do, and make restitution to the extent possible.​—Luke 19:​7-​10.

  6.   Ask God in prayer for forgiveness on the basis of the ransom of Jesus. (Ephesians 1:7) For your prayer to be answered, you must forgive those who have sinned against you.​—Matthew 6:​14, 15.

  7.   If your sin is serious, speak to someone who is qualified to provide the spiritual help you need and who can pray in your behalf.​—James 5:​14-​16.

Misconceptions about gaining God’s forgiveness

 “I have sinned too much to be forgiven.”

God forgave David of adultery and murder

 As long as we follow the steps that God sets out in the Bible, we will be forgiven, since his capacity to forgive is greater than our sins. He can forgive serious sins as well as those that have been repeated many times.​—Isaiah 1:​18.

 For example, King David of Israel was forgiven of adultery and murder. (2 Samuel 12:​7-​13) The apostle Paul, who felt that he had been the world’s worst sinner, was also forgiven. (1 Timothy 1:​15, 16) Even the first-century Jews whom God held responsible for killing Jesus, the Messiah, were forgiven if they changed their ways.​—Acts 3:​15, 19.

 “If I confess to a priest or a minister, my sins are absolved.”

 No human is now authorized to forgive a fellow human for sins against God. Although confessing to another person can help a sinner to recover, only God can forgive sins.​—Ephesians 4:​32; 1 John 1:​7, 9.

 If that is so, then what did Jesus mean when he told the apostles: “If you forgive the sins of anyone, they are forgiven; if you retain those of anyone, they are retained”? (John 20:23) He was describing a unique authority that he would give to the apostles when they received the holy spirit.​—John 20:22.

 As promised, the apostles received this gift when the holy spirit was poured out in 33 C.E. (Acts 2:​1-4) The apostle Peter used this authority when judging the disciples Ananias and Sapphira. Peter miraculously knew about their deceptive scheme, and his judgment indicated that their sin would not be forgiven.​—Acts 5:​1-​11.

 That miraculous gift of the holy spirit, like other gifts such as healing and speaking in tongues, ceased after the death of the apostles. (1 Corinthians 13:​8-​10) Thus, no human today can absolve another person of sin.