We’re all in need of a pardon

Published 9:03 am Saturday, August 13, 2011

Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? (Matthew 19:16)

He did it. He wasn’t making any excuses either. He had gone to prison and served his time. He had paid his “debt to society” and had worked very hard to put his life and his family back together again. By everyone’s standards, he had been rehabilitated.

Although many years had passed, he was still suffering, however, the consequences of his crime. As each election came, he was prevented from voting. As a young boy he loved to hunt and looked forward to taking his sons hunting when they got older but his felony conviction prevented him from even being in possession of a gun. Even when he would apply for a job he knew he would be confronted with that same question on the job application form. …”Have you ever been convicted of a felony?”

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As he answered the questions “yes,” the looks, whispers and embarrassment would start all over again.

He wished he had never done it, but he did. He couldn’t change that as much as he wished he could. What he could do, however, was to get a pardon.

To get a pardon in most states, a convicted felon must apply to a Board of Pardons who reviews the applicant’s past and the seriousness of his crime. They also look at what changes the person has made in their lives. They basically determine if they have done enough good things to deserve a pardon. In other words, the Board of Pardons tries to determine if the applicant has earned a pardon. If they believe the applicant is worthy, the board recommends to the Governor that the person receive a pardon.

If the Governor grants a pardon (he doesn’t have to), the recipient is legally treated as if he/she had never committed a crime. All of the constitutional rights that were once lost are now restored. He/she is no longer a “felon.”

Unfortunately, a pardon from the Governor does not wipe away the memories of your family, friends and neighbors. Sometimes they never forget, and sometimes they don’t forgive either.

Spiritually speaking, all of us are like the person who has been convicted of a felony. Romans 3:23 tells us that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

In God’s eyes, we all start out as “convicted spiritual felons.” As a result, we too need a pardon. The kind we need, however, is a spiritual pardon.

How do you get a spiritual pardon? Well, it is not like getting a pardon from the Governor. To get a pardon from the Governor requires you to prove that you deserve and have earned the pardon. It is based upon your good works. In this case, you can’t earn nor can you deserve a spiritual pardon.

Romans 9:16 makes it perfectly clear that “it does not therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.” Thus, to get a spiritual pardon is merely a gift from God.

To get a spiritual pardon is actually quite easy. Romans 10:9 says that “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus Christ is Lord and you believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”

That is how you get your spiritual pardon. By putting your faith and trust in Jesus Christ. Nothing more, nothing less. Your sins are forgiven and whereas your friends never forget your past, the Bible tells us that God does!

Each person has to get his or her own spiritual pardon. You can’t buy it, put it on your credit card or have someone else get it for you. You don’t get it by attending a certain church, getting baptized or taking communion.

It is merely a gift you don’t deserve but that God wants you to take.