Question:

Dear minister,

I committed murder at the age of 19, and spent the next 21 years in prison. I was released several years ago. I have been trying to figure out if I can truly be forgiven for the murder that I committed, and if so, just how do I get forgiven, and attempt to go on with my life. I have been getting mixed replies on this subject. I am already depressed because not only do I feel that I am going to hell for this past crime, but I also can't seem to get a job, due to the fact that I have a record now. People talk about giving second chances, but no one really seems to truly live up to actually giving a second chance to someone like me. Please give me some insight into this email, if you have the time.

Thank you.


Answer:

"But if a wicked man turns from all his sins which he has committed, keeps all My statutes, and does what is lawful and right, he shall surely live; he shall not die. None of the transgressions which he has committed shall be remembered against him; because of the righteousness which he has done, he shall live. "Do I have any pleasure at all that the wicked should die?" says the Lord GOD, "and not that he should turn from his ways and live?"" (Ezekiel 18:21-23).

The question you have to ask yourself is: Have your changed your mind about what you did? Are you today a very different person than you were back then and that you know that taking another person's life is not right? If so, then you've repented of your past and that is an important step in becoming a Christian and being forgiven.

"So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Romans 10:17).

Most people understand that faith is important to salvation, but they don't always stop to think about what they are believing in. You can't really have faith if you don't know what you are claiming to believe. Therefore, an important step to being saved is learning a bit about what God said, and then trusting that what God said is true.

"But what does it say? "The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart" (that is, the word of faith which we preach): that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation" (Romans 10:8-10).

But a faith that is kept only to yourself is not much of a faith. You have to believe in Jesus as your Lord and believe that he was raised from the dead to the extent that you freely and willingly admit this to other people. God isn't looking for stealth Christians.

"In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses" (Colossians 2:11-13).

Baptism, a burial in water, then becomes the point in which we demonstrate our trust in God and His works, so that we are then forgiven of all our past sins. Can murder be forgiven? Well, the apostle Paul was a former murderer. "I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service, even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief; and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus" (I Timothy 1:12-14). All sins can be forgiven and yours are no exception.

The problem with sins is that they carry consequences, some natural, some created by men. We can grumble about the unfairness of how people treat a former sinner, but it won't change things. Thus, let's accept the fact that you're past has limited your future options. If you can't get hired, then it is time to start your own business. I'm not talking about some get rich quick scheme, but think about what you would like to do where you can basically be your own boss. I don't know what you like, so it may be farming, lawn care, carpentry, etc. You have an able body, so be willing to work and get yourself established, even if it means doing humble things for now to demonstrate your abilities. "But we urge you, brethren, to excel still more, and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we commanded you, so that you will behave properly toward outsiders and not be in any need" (I Thessalonians 4:10-12).