Can a broken vow to God be forgiven?


I read your response to "What does God do if you make a deal with Him and don't keep it?" Question: When a broken promise has nothing to do with another person, does the Bible state anything about a person repenting for breaking a promise made specifically to God?  What are the consequences of breaking a promise made to God?  What if the broken promise was done one time, the person repented, fasted and prayed, and never broke the promise again?  How does Jesus intercede for the person who broke the promise?  Scripture references are appreciated.

Is this text referencing the unsaved person?

"But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death" (Revelation 21:8). God justly punishes those who make false promises.

Again, thank you for answering my questions.  I could only find topics on infidelity when I researched this question.


All sins can be forgiven, if the sinner is willing to meet the terms God has laid down. A broken vow is no different than any other sin.

  • You have to understand that what you did was wrong. "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being priest for Me; Because you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children" (Hosea 4:6).
  • You have to be sorry enough for what you did that you change your behavior. "Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing. For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death. For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication! In all things you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter" (II Corinthians 7:9-11).
  • You have to be humble enough to admit that you did wrong and ask for forgiveness. "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (I John 1:8-9).

It isn't as if what God requires is hard. "For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome" (I John 5:3). Even though they are simple things, people do find them very hard to do because what God asks of people hits at the core of whether they are truly willing to change.

What I listed above are the requirements God placed on His children. Many people call themselves Christians, yet because of ignorance never obeyed the simple requirements for becoming a child of God. See "Things that Accompany Salvation" for a list of those things.

I assume that in regards to Revelation 21:8 you are asking if it only applied to non-Christians when you say "unsaved." Technically anyone going to the second death (hell) is unsaved. It doesn't matter if they had become a Christian or not. Being a Christian isn't a guarantee that the person will remain faithful to God. That is what Paul warned about in I Corinthians 10:1-12. See "Being a Christian Will Not Save You" for details.

The sins listed in Revelation 21:8 are just a sample; they are not a complete list. All these sins can be forgiven. The point being made is that sins for which a person does not seek forgiveness will cause them to end up in hell -- not because that is what God wants, but because that is what the person has chosen by remaining in his sins.

Thank you for your quick response and additional clarity to my question. I have a couple more questions on this topic:

  1. Please explain why some Christians are quick to say that another Christian has a reprobate mind (Roman 1:28) if they find out that a sin has been committed without knowing if the person has asked God's forgiveness. How do folks condemn a person to a reprobate mind without paying attention to Matthew 6:14-15?
  2. Is a Christian, who commits a sin, considered a sinner at the time he is committing the sin? Is salvation restored once repentance is made?

Thank you so much for answering my questions.

I can't answer for other Christians as I'm not a mind reader. In the passage you cited, "And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting" (Romans 1:28), Paul is recounting how the Greek society had reached its level of moral decay. This verse discusses the fourth stage. Stage one was a rejection of God and the establishment of false substitutes (Romans 1:18-23). Stage two was sexual immorality and worldliness (Romans 1:24-25). Stage three was corrupted sex (homosexuality) (Romans 1:26-27). The final stage was a break down of all morality and society (Romans 1:28-32).

A debased or reprobate mind is translating the Greek word adokimos, which means "not passing the test," "incompetent" or "unqualified." According to The Complete Biblical Library, "No single English equivalent adequately translates adokimos since the central idea behind adokimos is something that has been proved false, worthless, or useless as a result of testing."

The word would be accurately applied to someone who despite efforts to bring to the truth and seeing his life fall apart, moves deeper and deeper into sin. It would not apply to a person who has left sin, no matter how grave the sin, or who is just starting done the road of sin.

You are correct that when a person has repented of his sins, Christians are required to forgive him. "Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, 'I repent,' you shall forgive him" (Luke 17:3-4).

When you talk about a person being saved, have you considered from what he is being saved? "This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief" (I Timothy 1:15). God offers us salvation from our sins.

When a person becomes a Christian, he is freed from the bondage of his past sins. "Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin" (Romans 6:3-7). But in this new life, it does not mean the Christian might not occasionally slip back into old habits. "Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall" (I Corinthians 10:12). If a Christian remains in his sins, then yes he has lost is salvation.

It would be much like a man rescued from the sea, but who then later falls back in. You would hope that for most it was accidental or due to carelessness. Once in, he would once again strive to get out. There are some who decide they rather be in the sea than on the ship.

"For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame" (Hebrews 6:4-6).

This passage is directed to those who are trying to rescue such a person. When a person knows what it is like to be saved from sin, but purposely chooses sin over salvation, there is nothing that the rest of us can do for him to convince him to leave his sins. He has to choose to reject sin, and sadly for many in this condition, they never make that choice. It is one of the hardest things to see and accept. I hope it is obvious that a person choosing to stay in sin is a sinner.

But happily, not everyone stays in sin. "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us. My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous" (I John 1:8-2:1). The goal is not to sin, but God through Jesus Christ has provided a way out of sin when the Christian falls.

Thank you for breaking down the Word for me; you're all right with me. Have a wonderful rest of the week!