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Glenn Berg wrote:

Hi, guys —

1 Timothy 1:13 says:

13 although I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man;
but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.

I read your response to this Scripture passage. I have sinned seriously for years, more years than I can count, while knowing Christianity is true and not following Jesus or being a Christian.

  • How could I not have committed the sin which Paul's words imply?

They seem to imply, had he known the truth and done what he did, he wouldn't have been forgiven. I, unlike, Paul did know the truth.

  • How have I not committed that sin?

Paul also says he is the ultimate example of the Mercy of God (1 Timothy 1:16) and that he didn't know the truth.

Well, I did, so that leaves me out of being forgiven.

Glenn Berg

  { Doesn't St. Paul's words in 1 Timothy 1:13 imply that my sins cannot be forgiven? }

Paul replied:

Dear Glenn,

First, St. Paul called himself ignorant because of his unbelief but did not elaborate on whether or not his ignorance was voluntary or involuntary.

Remaining ignorant of a truth purposefully is a sin in itself, and is something that he, and all of us, may have done.

  • Another thing to consider . . . even if St. Paul's lack of faith was not voluntary in any way, does that give him the moral right to persecute and condone the killings of innocent people?

Natural law, written in everyone's heart, condemns this. Therefore, I would say, St. Paul wasn't saying his ignorance of the faith kept him from guilt. If that were the case, he would need no mercy. God's abundant mercy would apply very much to you too.

It is especially the case when we know something is wrong, and we do it anyway, that God holds out His mercy and desires us to seek it through the Sacrament of Confession.

Look at the parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32). There is no sin or sins too great for God to forgive if one has a repentant heart. If we say there are such sins then we don't understand the infinite power of Mercy that the sacrifice of Christ has afforded us.

Thanks be to God His forgiveness awaits us in sacrament of Confession, which is available at Catholic churches each and every week.

Peace,

Paul

Bob replied:

Dear Glenn,

Just because your sins were deliberate does not make God's mercy any less.

Yes, your sins are more grave because you violated your conscience, but God's mercy is all the more abundant when you turn from sin. Every Christian has been taught the right way, yet we still fail and sin, deliberately. There would be no chance for our salvation if deliberate sins were unforgivable.

Thank God we have a merciful God; don't believe anything else; only God's enemies want you to believe He wouldn't forgive you.

That is their most potent tactic in spiritual warfare: to create despair. Don't buy it.

Peace,

Bob Kirby

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