Pardon Me!

Pardon Me

What would you say of a man on death row in prison, who received a full pardon from the governor’s office and turned it down? You might say, “Pardon me, but that man is a fool!”

Nevertheless, that is what happened in 1830. A man named George Wilson was convicted of killing a government employee while robbing the U.S. Mail. He was tried and sentenced to be hanged. Andrew Jackson, then President of the United States, issued a pardon for Wilson, but Wilson did a strange thing: he refused to accept the pardon and no one knew what to do next.

The matter went all the way to the Supreme Court. Chief Justice Marshall concluded that Wilson must be executed. “A pardon is a slip of paper,” wrote Marshall, “the value of which is determined by the acceptance of the person to be pardoned. If it is refused, there is no pardon. George Wilson must be hanged.” And he was.

Many in that day said, "What a fool!" Perhaps they were right, but there are millions of people today who continually refuse God’s offer of a pardon from eternal death. Consequently, they foolishly remain condemned.

There is a vast difference between the law of man and the Law of God. The law of man says that a man is innocent until he is found guilty. God’s law says that ALL are guilty, and need to be found innocent.

Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God

"ALL" takes in everybody, including those we consider good and those we consider bad. The good news is God has a Way to make both the “good” and the “bad” innocent.

The glory of God is the beauty of His Spirit. It is not an aesthetic beauty or a material beauty, but it is the beauty that emanates from His character, from all that He is. That is what we fall short of because God is the standard. Furthermore, God’s wrath (as part of His character) is part of God’s glory. If we look at the cross and don’t see the wrath of God against sin, we are not seeing the love of God there either.

Ephesians 2:1-10 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Christian, do you think you are not a sinner? Pardon me! 1 John 1:8-10 says, “If we say 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 we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.”

According to God’s Word, if we break any part of the Law, we have broken the entire Law and the penalty is the same—death.

James 2:10 For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it.

No mention is made in God’s Law of degrees of sin. The person who breaks one commandment has broken all the Law. The liar is as guilty as the murderer. The woman who takes God’s name in vain is just as guilty as the harlot. The man who doesn’t love his neighbor might as well not love God, for he is just as guilty as if it were so.

On top of that, the penalty for breaking the Law is eternal death.

Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Millions of people are sitting on death row. However, God has offered a pardon and a free gift of eternal life to all mankind through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ. This pardon and gift comes wrapped up in a short statement, "Jesus is going to die instead of you."

Romans 5:6-8 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

We also read in 1 John 2:2, “And he (Jesus) is the propitiation for our sins: and not for our sins only, but also for the sins of the whole world.”

A propitiation is something or someone who appeases or secures a favorable outcome for you. Jesus has appeased God’s wrath by shedding His Blood on the cross and suffering our death penalty. He secured a pardon for everyone who believes in Him as the Son of God and accepts the pardon in faith. The question for each individual is: Will you accept or reject your pardon?

In the Old Covenant, the sins of the people were placed on lambs and the lambs were slain. Their blood was shed to make an atonement for sins. God promised the people that if they just repented and believed in His Word they were forgiven and cleansed for one year.

In the New Covenant that we are under now, Jesus is the Lamb whose blood was shed for the atonement of our sin. God said that His sacrifice was our payment. His payment was made once for all of mankind. By faith we believe it, accept it, and live by it, as we refocus our purpose for living to serving Him and lifting up Jesus so He can save others, too!

One might think that people would run over the top of one another, like it was Black Friday, to accept the payment for their sin and a pardon for their guilt. On the contrary, most people are unconcerned about their sin. They either think Jesus’ atonement is a myth, or they think there is no such thing as life after death. Many consider themselves a good person who has earned a place in Heaven, if such a place exists. Because of the devil’s influence, men have ignored God and have forgotten that they are on death row.

2 Corinthians 4:4 In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

But God is still concerned. God loves all people and is not willing that any should perish. Through the efforts of the Holy Spirit, the Lord is speaking, reminding, and warning people of their need. One way He does this is through us. We are God’s ambassadors through whom God makes His appeal to be reconciled to Him by faith in Jesus Christ. We are to be holy so others can see the Lord.

Hebrews 12:14 Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.

Mankind is condemned. But God has provided a full pardon. Now, the Lord is pleading with the hearts of men to believe and receive His gift of eternal life.

Isaiah 1:18-20 Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land; but if you refuse and rebel, you shall be eaten by the sword; for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.

Still, many people don’t seem to hear His pleading voice today. It’s not that God’s not still pleading, it’s that they cannot hear Him over all the commotion they have crowded their lives with. Unfortunately, it oftentimes takes something major to get their attention before they will hit bottom and look up and listen to the Lord! When that happens, we need to be there to direct them to their Savior, Jesus Christ. Hopefully, they will realize their sin and condemnation and cry out, “Pardon me, Lord!” Jesus will answer, for He is waiting for us to come to Him.

Matthew 11:28-30Come to me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Jesus has paid the price for our sin, providing us with a pardon. Based on Christ’s blood atonement, God has promised to give the gift of eternal life and salvation to all who will receive it through faith in His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Romans 10:13 For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

Now, you may be thinking, “that sounds too good to be true. Are there any strings attached? ” So, let’s consider what is and what is not contained in God’s pardon?

First, notice that a pardon is not making amends. Deciding to “turn over a new leaf”, or saying, "I’ll not do it anymore," will not get a prisoner pardoned. Many people are laying aside their evil deeds and striving to live better lives. They feel that good, moral living will atone for their past sins and get them through the gate of Heaven. They are deceived.

Romans 3:20-22 For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it—the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe.

Trying to reform, or trying to make up for sin by doing good will not earn you a pardon. Even if you paid all the bills of the church, God would not overlook your sins. Even if you serve in all the ministries and labor long, it will not earn a pardon for your evil acts. Jesus earned your pardon by taking your punishment. After accepting your pardon, you are given the righteousness of Christ and good works supernaturally follow as you obey the Holy Spirit in your life.

Titus 2:11-14 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

Secondly, notice that a pardon is not the same as a parole. The pardoned man is totally free, while the paroled man has limited freedom under certain conditions. If the man who is on parole gets into any trouble at all, he must go back to prison and serve the original sentence. To be pardoned suggests that all guilt is stricken from the record. A cloak of innocence and the righteousness of Jesus Christ is given to the pardoned person.

God’s pardon is eternal, and the person who receives it is set free, but not to continue living in sin. Instead, he no longer lives to please himself, but he lives for God, because of his thankfulness and love for His Savior. Furthermore, the guilty sinner is not just pardoned; he is given a new life, born of the Holy Spirit, and is continually transformed to be like Christ by the grace and power of the Holy Spirit as he trusts and obeys Jesus. If he is not born again and living this new life of the Spirit, he is not pardoned and cannot enter the Kingdom of God.

Thirdly, notice that a pardon is not a payment. When a man has served out his sentence and is released, no pardon is involved. If he pays his fine and goes free, there is no need for a pardon.

In our case, we do not have enough money to pay the fine nor the penalty for our sin. Our death sentence is eternal. Therefore, our only hope is a full pardon.

John 8:34-36 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

So I ask you, “Have you received your pardon and been set free, or are you still a slave to sin?” A pardon is available for you through faith in your Savior, Jesus Christ. Will you accept His pardon, or will you be a fool like George Wilson, who refused his pardon and went to his death?

To accept God’s pardon, believe that Jesus is the Messiah (Christ), the Son of God. Then repent of your sin and give your life to Jesus by following Him in baptism. You will be pardoned of your sin, set free to live a new life, born of the Holy Spirit, who will give you grace to obey God and power to be a witness for Jesus Christ.