It’s one thing to see evil in someone’s past and say, “Christ has forgiven this person.” But it’s something else to see someone committing evil and say, “Christ can—and will—forgive this person if he or she would only accept His gift of salvation.”
Except for the fact that it isn’t. While it may be more difficult for us to forgive, Christ’s offer of salvation is unwavering, regardless of the timing of the offenses. He forgives sinners who repent and turn to Him, always.
Prior to his conversion, the apostle Paul was a self-described blasphemer, persecutor, and violent aggressor. The worst of all, he says. But even he found mercy in Christ, proving that no one is too evil to be saved (1 Tim. 1:12-17).
In his message “Persecuted,” Dr. Stanley explains the importance of loving and praying for our enemies:
This is perhaps the most difficult assignment, yet it’s what Christ commands (Matt. 5:44). We’re to pray that Jesus might be made known to our enemies through our responses to mistreatment. Unbelievers can’t understand why Christians exhibit strength, love, and forgiveness in the midst of ill treatment. Wherever the church has endured persecution, it has grown because people see how believers respond, and want that kind of life as well.
The worst way to react to persecution is to stop talking about Jesus for fear of upsetting people. However, we need to unsettle them by courageously and clearly sharing the truth because without Christ, they’re on their way to everlasting separation from God. One day all their enjoyments and pursuits will vanish, and they’ll have to stand before a holy, righteous God. We want them to know the only One who can change their lives—both now and for all eternity.
If there is ever going to be peace and respite from evil prior to Christ’s return, it will be because of His power to change hearts. Let us not only pray for freedom for the oppressed, but also for the release of sin’s hold on their oppressors, and for the courage to do our part.
Learn more about how God turns what was meant for evil into good in Dr. Stanley’s message “Persecuted.”