There are probably things you feel are unforgivable. Does God feel that way? Is there a sin that is so bad God can’t forgive it? Or does God forgive all sins?
God is the One who tells us what sin is, and He wants us to know several important things about sin:
- Sin is breaking God’s laws (1 John 3:4; see “What Is Sin?”).
- Sin earns the eternal death penalty (Romans 6:23).
- Jesus Christ’s sacrifice made it possible for us to be forgiven of our sins and saved from the death penalty. (See “God’s Forgiveness.”)
But even those who know these biblical facts can have serious questions. Obviously, sin is important to God—so important that the sinless Christ had to die to pay for its penalty for others. We must not take it lightly.
So when we sin a terrible sin, or when we see someone else commit a sin that we don’t see how anyone could forgive, sometimes we wonder:
Is there a sin God can’t forgive? Does God forgive all sins?
Here are some common questions and their answers from the Bible.
Does God forgive murderers?
Yes, God forgives repentant murderers.
Consider the example of King David. The Bible clearly shows David’s guilt for the premeditated murder of his loyal soldier Uriah in his attempt to cover up his adultery with Uriah’s wife Bathsheba.
Could God forgive such a heinous sin?
When David came to deeply recognize the evil of his actions, he bitterly repented and beseeched God for forgiveness. His prayer of repentance in Psalm 51 can be instructive to all who have sinned against God. (See our article “How to Pray for Forgiveness.”)
And the Bible tells us God forgave him (2 Samuel 12:13).
David suffered terrible consequences because of his sins, but God removed the ultimate penalty of eternal death. God does forgive repentant murderers.
Does God forgive all sins if you repent?
God wants everyone to repent (2 Peter 3:9), and He even leads us to repentance (Romans 2:4).
As the apostle Peter said to those who had been cut to the heart by his sermon on Pentecost:
“Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38, English Standard Version).
Of course, to be forgiven, we must understand what the Bible means by repentance. It’s more than saying we’re sorry. It involves a deep change from the inside and a total change of direction. It’s a determination to stop sinning and not to sin in the future.
Study this further in our article “How to Repent.”
Does God forgive all sins, no matter how bad?
Does God clearly state He can forgive all sins?
“Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through this Man is preached to you the forgiveness of sins; and by Him everyone who believes is justified from all things” (Acts 13:38-39, emphasis added throughout).
Paul wrote that our great God and Savior Jesus Christ “gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed” (Titus 2:14).
And consider what Paul said to the Corinthians, residents of a city widely known for sinful and perverse lifestyles:
“Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10).
But Paul didn’t stop there. He continued: “And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God” (verse 11).
All of these sins can be forgiven.
All sins can be forgiven.
Does God forgive addiction?
Some sins are especially difficult to overcome because they involve addictions. Some Christians have repented often while failing to stop that cycle of sin. Sometimes it may take decades to overcome an addiction.
God understands our weaknesses and stands ready to help and to forgive each time we repent.
Study more about breaking free from sinful addictions in our article “Freedom From Addiction” and its related articles.
Does God forgive suicide?
(Note: If you or someone you know may be considering suicide, in the U.S. contact the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline by calling 988. For suicide hotlines in other countries, see suicide.org/international-suicide-hotlines.html.)
As our article “What Does the Bible Say About Suicide?” explains:
“Would God condemn someone for all eternity whose last act is a sin? We should not presume to make a judgment about one’s eternal destiny. Passing final judgment is God’s prerogative, which He has delegated to Jesus Christ (John 5:22), not to us. Certainly, we can make a judgment that suicide is the wrong way to deal with one’s problems, but we should leave eternal judgment up to God.
“Could God extend mercy, even to a believer who takes his or her life? After all, a believer certainly knows that suicide is wrong. Consider what the Psalms show about the character of God: ‘For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward those who fear Him’ (Psalm 103:11). The Bible even weighs mercy against judgment, concluding that ‘mercy triumphs over judgment’ (James 2:13).
“Thankfully, God judges each of us on our entire Christian life, rather than upon a single mistake.”
Does God forgive all sins past, present and future?
God does not forgive future sins. (In other words, you can’t ask God to forgive you in advance for a sin you are going to commit in the future.)
Paul explained that because of Jesus’ sacrifice, God passes over “the sins that were previously committed” (Romans 3:25).
Jesus told the woman caught in adultery, “Go and sin no more” (John 8:11).
Repentance is about regretting past sins and committing to change. It is about seeking God’s help to stop present sins and avoid future sins.
Christians are called to a lifetime of repentance and change. Whenever we sin, whenever we drift from God, we must repent and return to Him.To try to repent of something you will do in the future is not repentance at all. It’s an oxymoron—like saying, “I’m going to change, but not if I have to change.” We can’t get permission to sin in the future. God doesn’t want us to think, “God will understand.” He wants us to change.
Yet, we do sin. Everyone occasionally sins out of weakness or ignorance. Some people have habits or patterns of sin that they slip back into even though they’re trying to overcome. From what we read in Scripture, as long as we genuinely repent of any sin we may have committed, ask for forgiveness and make diligent effort to obey God, we can be confident that our sins will be forgiven.
As John assures us, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
What sins cannot be forgiven by God?
Yet the Bible gives a clear warning that some sinners won’t be forgiven. While God desires for all to be saved, we also read that some will reject His mercy.
There are passages that speak of unpardonable sin—blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, or falling away and sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth (Matthew 12:31-32; Hebrews 6:4-6; 10:26-27).
These are sobering thoughts indeed! Study what the Bible says about this in more detail in our article “What Is the Unpardonable Sin?”
How to avoid the unforgivable sin
So, does this mean there are sins that God does not forgive?
Yes, but if we put all of these passages together, we come to this conclusion: There is no sin that can’t be forgiven if and when it is repented of.
But when a sinner does not repent, God does not forgive. You could say that not repenting is not forgivable.
To avoid the unforgivable sin, we must repent! If we stray, we must return to a repentant frame of mind. Some have strayed for years, but when, like the prodigal son, they came to themselves and returned, our merciful and patient God welcomed them. He “is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).
However, we must not allow ourselves to get so hardened, so bitter, so neglectful, so prideful that we will not repent.
Generally, those who express fear that they have committed the unpardonable sin are showing they still desire to repent and be forgiven. They must follow up on the fear and that desire, and let God lead them to repentance (Romans 2:4).
Christians are called to a lifetime of repentance and change. Whenever we sin, whenever we drift from God, we must repent and return to Him.
He will never leave us or forsake us; He is our helper (Hebrews 13:5-6). He is always willing to forgive and give us help to change.
James summarized the approach we need:
“Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded . . . Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up” (James 4:7-8, 10).
Yes, God can forgive all sins—as long as we repent and genuinely seek and desire to change.
Study more about these important subjects of sin, repentance, forgiveness and the process of conversion in our concise booklet Change Your Life!