How Can God Forgive a Murderer?

by BJ Rudge, Ph.D.

There are a few things to consider concerning God’s forgiveness.

First, His forgiveness does not remove moral responsibility and consequences for one’s actions.

Second, an outward profession does not always indicate an inner commitment to Jesus Christ. In other words, only God knows the heart of each of us to accurately determine whether or not one’s repentance and request for forgiveness is genuine.

Third, we are all sinners who fall short of God’s standards. So, while the actions of a murderer are of greater consequence than the actions of a liar, both violate God’s moral laws and are guilty. However, through the sacrificial death of Jesus, forgiveness is provided for all who believe and receive God’s unmerited grace.

From my perspective, the real question is not why would God save a murderer, but why does God save anyone – since we have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23)? The only answer is the depth of His love for all of us (John 3:16). Consider a parent who loves both the child who behaves and turns out good, and the child who struggles with poor decisions in life (drugs and other reckless behavior). The good child may experience more of the parent’s blessings than the reckless child. But the parent still loves them both and carries with them a hope that one day their reckless child will come home and experience the same blessings that they have provided for their other child.

The holiness and justice of God demands that all sin is punished. However, the mercy and grace of God provides forgiveness for our sins through the death and resurrection of Jesus. “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).