We don't like to think of God being a God of judgment (Eccl. 12:13-14) and wrath (Rom. 1:18). However, we need to keep in mind the reason for His exhibiting those particular characteristics - sin, unrighteousness, unfaithfulness, wickedness, evil - all of which are contrary to God's very nature and self-destructive to those who practice such. God is totally righteous, and He created us in His own image. He holds us accountable for living up to that image as best we can. While God condemns sin and warns us to abstain from it (1 Thess. 5:22), He is also merciful and eager to forgive when we repent and seek His forgiveness (Dan. 8:8-9).
God not only has the ability and willingness to forgive, He also wants to forgive. But forgiveness must be preceded by repentance (2 Pet. 3:9). Repentance is not just being sorry (2 Cor. 7:9). Repentance is a change of mind that leads to a change in behavior. It entails a turn around in practice that includes a turning away from sin.
When Jesus forgave the woman taken in adultery He told her to "sin no more" (Jn. 8:11); that's repentance. Jesus taught His disciples to forgive a brother who might sin against them, even if he should sin against them on a repeated basis and in the same day. The condition for the forgiveness, however, was that the brother repent (Lk. 17:3-4). Repentance is required in the process of conversion (Acts 3:19), preceding being baptized for the remission of one's sins (Acts 2:38).
All of us, in our walk through life, stumble and sin (Rom. 3:23). The consequence of sin is death (Rom. 6:23). But that same verse encourages us that God has a gift of eternal life. He wants to give us that gift. Obviously, forgiveness is available if we will repent and properly seek His forgiveness.
How can we know that God really wants to forgive us? How much does He want to forgive us? Both questions have the same answer - God sent Jesus to die on the cross to pay the price for the guilt of our sins (Rom. 5:6-10). God offered His Son as the ultimate sacrifice to bear our sins (Heb. 9:26, 28). No greater statement of desire to forgive, or of seriousness in that desire, could possibly be made.
God offers us forgiveness through Christ (Col. 1:13-14). We receive that forgiveness as we're baptized into Christ (Acts 2:38; 22:16) for the remission of our sins. God has emphatically demonstrated His desire to forgive. Now, we must take the initiative and seek His forgiveness, on His terms. How blessed we are, and how thankful we should be, to serve such a God, a God of forgiveness!...
Gary L. Hutchens