You took a life. You murdered. Maybe you killed just one person, maybe you killed several, maybe you killed many. Maybe your victim was still in the womb and not even born. Maybe your victim was very young, very old, weak, or in some way defenseless. Maybe you assaulted them first. Maybe you tried to make them suffer as much as possible. Maybe you knew them and they trusted you. Maybe you killed to get accepted by someone or prove your courage or defend your country or get revenge or find peace or protect yourself or save your reputation or make some money. Maybe you told yourself it was okay to kill at the time because you were trying to be merciful, or because you were righting the scales of justice, or because you were just doing your duty. In this world, the circumstances and motives for murder vary widely. Some kill by accident, some kill intentionally. Some act on impulse, others carefully plan their movements far in advance. Some actually do the killing, while others play assisting roles. Whatever your particular role was in the murder you committed, the question now is: how do you get right with God? Does God forgive murder? Is there any way to get out from under the brick load of guilt, or have you fallen under some kind of Divine curse which will prevent you from ever experiencing soul peace and joy?
Of course God forgives murder. And if you find within yourself a sincere desire to be pleasing in God’s sight, then there is great hope for you. You are not lost, nor are you cursed. You are standing at a fork in the road, and there is a choice you need to make. One path leads to peace with God, the other leads to bitter despair. God is calling you down the road that leads to Him, and in this post, I’ll give you the information you need to respond to His call.
GOD’S ASSESSMENT OF YOU
Every murderer’s situation is unique, so the first step is to sort out where you are personally at with God. Let’s start with determining how He views the murder you committed. The common assumption among repentant murderers is that God considers their actions to be loathsome and therefore He currently hates them. Well, no, this logic simply doesn’t work. Actions alone aren’t enough to cause God to hate anyone. It is your soul’s attitude towards God, not your external actions, which determine how God judges you. To gain an accurate assessment of how God viewed your particular actions, we now need to talk about conviction.
Simply put, conviction is God communicating His will to you. The timing of conviction has a major impact on how God judges you, because God does not expect you to know things that He hasn’t told you. This brings us to a critical question: when did you realize that what you did was wrong?
A lot of women are taught that aborting unwanted babies is the smart thing to do. A lot of doctors who commit abortions were brainwashed into viewing that mass of cells as being less than human. A lot of soldiers are trained to believe that military killings are always justified. A lot of people believe murder is acceptable if you’re putting someone out of intense misery—especially if that someone is pleading with you to help them die. So when did you realize that you were wrong to take the life or lives that you took? Was it before or after you committed the deed? The answer to this question is very important because what gets you into trouble with God is something called spiritual rebellion. Spiritual rebellion is informed rebellion. It’s when you know what the rules are and you intentionally break them. You can’t intentionally break a rule that you didn’t even know existed.
Suppose you eat a cookie and then mom comes into the room and gets mad because she was saving those cookies for the church bazaar. If you’d known that, you wouldn’t have eaten them. You weren’t trying to make trouble, you just made an honest mistake. Is this you? Did you honestly think killing whoever you killed was a morally acceptable action at the time that you did it? If so, then guess what? God does not view your action as a case of willful rebellion because He knows that you honestly didn’t know better.
Or perhaps you killed by accident. You were texting in your car and you didn’t see that kid run out into the street until it was too late. Were you wrong to not be paying attention to the road? Yes, but does that make you guilty of willfully taking a life? Not hardly. If you know that you killed by accident or that you honestly didn’t know what you were doing was wrong—and that’s a lot of you—then I’m classifying you as a TYPE A killer. Why have types? Because murder is not the simplistic issue that your guilt makes it out to be. Motivations and the timing of conviction make a big difference in how you need to respond to your past actions in order to get into a good place with God. So all of you TYPE As remember your type and I’ll come back to you in a moment.
Now let’s talk about those of you who knew that you weren’t supposed to do what you did, and you did it anyway. You are the intentional rule breakers. Mom told you to leave her cookies alone but you went and snuck one anyway because you were hungry or because you really liked them or because you just wanted to stick it to her. Either way, you did commit an act of willful rebellion because you knew that what you were doing was wrong and you did it anyhow. I’m going to call you TYPE B killers. Don’t be thinking that there’s less hope for you than there is for the TYPE As because that’s simply not true. There is hope for everyone, you just have different steps.
So what about quantity? Doesn’t it matter how many people you killed? When it comes to getting into a right place with God, no, it really doesn’t. Whether you killed 1 person or 1,000, the spiritual issues are the same. God judges you by your soul’s response to Him, and only by your soul’s response. How many people you killed, and how many people are currently alive on the planet who hate your guts is beside the point. How human authorities responded to your actions is also irrelevant. Some of you got caught, some of you didn’t. Some of you are currently on the run…and I’ll talk more about that later. First let’s deal with the main issue that’s keeping your soul in distress: the actual murder.
Suppose you break your friend’s watch. Whether you did it on purpose or not, she won’t forgive you until you replace it. Well, that involves a trip to the store or an online purchase, both of which take time. The point is this: reconciling with humans is often a process which requires time and resources. Often reconciliation simply isn’t possible because someone refuses to forgive you or you’re unable to meet their demands. If staying out of Hell was a matter of never being at odds with any other humans, we’d all be roasting. But happily, staying out of Hell is only a matter of being on the right side of God.
God is a infinitely easier to reconcile with than a human. He doesn’t require any props, gifts, or rituals on your part. And He couldn’t care less about how other humans are currently viewing you. Getting right with God is an internal thing: it’s something you do in the privacy of your own soul. It’s a simple matter of talking to God and choosing to embrace certain priorities. Reconciling with God is an instant thing. He isn’t going to withhold forgiveness from you until you go do some physical activity on earth. So if you want to be right with God today, you can be. Now let’s learn how.
GETTING RIGHT WITH GOD FOR TYPE Bs
Alright, all of you TYPE Bs: let’s deal with you first. God told you not to kill and you blew Him off and did it anyway. That’s called spiritual rebellion. As the Supreme Authority, God demands obedience from you, and you didn’t give it to Him. So what happens now? Well, first you need to own up to the fact that you defied God’s Authority. Maybe part of you feels that you were totally justified in doing what you did and that whoever you killed deserved to die. Fine, but we’re not talking about your opinion right now. We’re talking about the fact that God is the King, and what He says goes. You defied God’s Authority: that’s the issue. God says that it is never acceptable for you to defy His Authority, no matter how intensely you disagree with the calls He’s making. He infinitely outranks you, so what He says goes: period.
You now have two choices before you: submission or rebellion. You already rebelled once by intentionally doing what God was telling you not to do. Are you done with your defiance or are you still in brat mode? If you’re still in brat mode, you can stop reading this post, because it won’t help you. What you’re going to need is for God to nail you with some kind of discipline so that you will be motivated to respect Him once again.
Now for you TYPE Bs who sincerely want to get back into a good standing with God, let’s talk about repentance. Repentance is when your soul attitude goes from “Shove it, God, I don’t care what You say,” to “Wow, God, I was so wrong to defy You like I did. I am so sorry for having such a rotten attitude and trying to pull rank I don’t have. I really want to get back into a good place with You and to be pleasing in Your sight. Please have Your way in my life and help me to stay in alignment with You from now on. Thank You for being so incredibly gracious towards me and for being willing to accept me even after I’ve been such a punk.” This is repentance. Notice that you are expressing a desire to be in alignment with God. Alignment is when we go through life with an attitude of “God, have Your way in my life. Pleasing You is more important than pleasing myself.”
Repentance is a change in soul attitude. It is an act of submission. Submission is when you yield to God’s Authority and accept His judgments even when you don’t agree with them. God said you would be wrong to kill whoever you killed. Clearly you disagreed with His view at the time, because you did it anyway. God isn’t saying that you now have to purge yourself of any joy you feel because your victim is dead. That isn’t possible in many cases. When we kill intentionally, the result is often a mix of emotions. Guilt, joy, relief, horror—you might be dealing with a blend of all of these feelings right now. You can’t control how you feel about something. The best you can do is control what kinds of choices your soul is making. If you choose to submit to God’s Authority and cooperate with His leading, God is going to mature you, and that may involve helping you deal with any issues you have towards your victim. Someone’s power over us seldom ends with their death. Often the memory of the person who tormented us in life continues to have a major impact on us after they are dead and we need God’s help to grow past these things. But first things first: you need to be submitting to God as the Supreme Authority in your life. You need to acknowledge to Him that you were wrong to defy His Authority and you need to ask Him to help you stay in alignment with Him.
Reconciling with God is a personal, private thing. Confessing your sins to other people is not going to change your standing with God. When you go around telling other people about how you did wrong, it’s like kicking your friend in the shin, and then apologizing to five strangers on the street. How is apologizing to other people going to get you back into a good place with your angry friend? He’s the one you kicked, and he’s the one you need to apologize to. This same principle applies in your relationship with God. Don’t go dragging other humans into the middle of your private business with God. When God convicts you that He has a problem with something you did, He’s the One you need to talk to, not your pastor or some other human. Triangulation gets us nowhere.
Okay, so at this point in time, you can look back on your life and see that you defied God’s Authority by committing murder because you knew at the time that He was telling you not to. How many times do you need to repent for your past sins? ONCE. But what if you killed fifty people—does that mean you need to repent fifty separate times? No. God is not a human, and He doesn’t need to see you grovel in the dirt before He can get over your past offenses. He much prefers to expedite these matters by having you use plural nouns when needed. “God I’m so sorry for all those times I defied You” is just as valid a prayer as “God, I’m so sorry for that time I defied You.” There’s no need to drag things out by hyper-focusing on each individual wrong. If you want a glass of water, do you want someone to fill it one drop at a time, or to tilt a pitcher and fill it within seconds? God wants you to reconcile with Him immediately. He doesn’t want to listen to you reciting some long list of all the ways you’ve messed up in the past. Such a list will never be close to complete, because as a human, you don’t even acknowledge most of the sins you commit. The goal of repentance is not to give God a history lesson, it’s to correct your current bad attitude towards Him.
God is sovereign, which means He is in absolute control, so it’s not like anything you did created some mess that He had to strain to clean up. No one dies until God wants them to die. God is not mad at you for prematurely snuffing someone’s life, because that’s simply not in your power to do. God’s problem with you is that you defied His Authority. But here’s where we come to another fabulous fact about God: He’s so easy to please.
As your Creator, God wants you to thrive with Him. Because He is good, He actually cares about you enjoying your own existence. Because God wants you to succeed with Him, He makes that very easy to do. As soon as you stop with the snarky attitude and start embracing a soul attitude of submission, God is all about moving forward and leaving the past in the past. While you might be having a very hard time forgiving yourself, God does not. This is largely due to the fact that God never has unreasonable expectations. You see, as a human, you have a certain view of yourself, and that view is very unrealistic. Before you became a murderer, you probably thought that that just wasn’t something you would ever sink to. If you murdered in a fit of rage, you were probably quite shocked to see what a monster you morphed into in the heat of that moment. Well, nothing about you ever surprises God because He made you and He gave you every impulse that you have. He defined the limits of your behavior and abilities. So while you might be having a hard time facing your own reflection, God’s love for you hasn’t faltered in the slightest. He wants a relationship with you now just as much as He did before you killed.
There’s one more point that all of you TYPE B killers need to be clear on. Are you worse than TYPE As because you killed knowing it was wrong? No, you’re not, and such a question is irrelevant. Every human sins in countless ways. One fellow murders, another steals, another lies, another refuses to forgive. Are some sins more intentional than others? Sure. Is every sin equal in God’s eyes? Not at all. There are many factors which God uses to judge the seriousness of sin, and those factors are quite different than humans think. But even if we made a list of lesser and greater sins, guess what? Every human has committed so many of both kinds that our comparison games are a total waste of time. As a TYPE B killer, you need to not get stuck pondering where you rank in the lineup of heinous killers. God isn’t comparing you to other murderers, He is judging you based on how your soul is responding to Him. To be in a good place with the non-human Being who created you, you need to be sincerely respecting Him as the Supreme Authority that He is.
With God, it’s all about soul attitude. How pleased or displeased God is with you right now depends on what your soul attitude is. Do you sincerely want to be pleasing in His sight? Do you want Him to be having His way in your life? If so, then God is pleased with you. Yes, it is that simple. You see, God doesn’t play this stupid game we humans play of labeling people by one major mistake. When God looks at you, He doesn’t see a murderer. He doesn’t see an abortionist or a serial killer. He sees a soul who He dearly loves. He sees a creature who He made out of pure desire and He is excited about developing all of that fabulous potential that He built into you. So you’re not scum in God’s eyes, you’re dearly loved, and that is the label you need to embrace.
GETTING RIGHT WITH GOD FOR TYPE As
Okay, all of you TYPE As, it’s finally your turn. You’ve got a different challenge in front of you than the TYPE Bs because yours is not a situation of willful defiance. You either killed by accident or you honestly didn’t realize that what you were doing was wrong at the time that you did it. The intense guilt you’re now experiencing is the result of not understanding how God’s conviction works.
Suppose you’re the father of a sweet little boy. This boy has his bratty moments, as all children do, but in general he is very compliant and eager to please. You love spending time with him and you especially love teaching him things and seeing his excitement as he learns. You’ve decided to homeschool him, and right now you’re in the process of teaching him how to read. For today’s session, you sit down on the couch, pull your son onto your lap, and you open up some nice little story about teddy bears on a picnic. The words are simple and made for early readers and you hold the book as your son starts sounding out the words. He’s making a fabulous effort, but he’s just a kid, and this is all new to him. You expect this process to take a very long time and that’s just fine with you, because you so thoroughly delight in teaching your son. So as he struggles to sound out each word, you’re patiently smiling and listening and cheering him on. But of course he’s not going to get every word right. In fact, he’s going to pronounce a lot of them wrong. This is par for the course for every new reader, so to you this is no big deal. But now suppose your son says a word wrong and when you correct him and tell him the right pronunciation he bursts into tears of devastation, shoves his way off your lap, runs to a corner of the room, curls up into a ball, and weeps bitterly over the fact that he’s totally lost your love from now on. As the father, what do you do? You get up and go over to him, of course, and you try to get him to see that he’s panicking over nothing. You’re not angry—you don’t expect him to pronounce every word perfectly. In fact, you’re very pleased with the fine progress he’s making. But suppose when you try to tell him these things, your son covers his ears and weeps even louder and insists that you must hate him. What then? Well, this is how you’re behaving with God right now when you insist that He must be furious with you for making an honest mistake.
You killed someone. You thought it was okay. Now you know it wasn’t. It’s called a learning experience. God is teaching you something new. He’s helping you understand His viewpoints a little better. He’s drawing you closer to Him. There’s simply no reason to conclude that God is furious with you for doing something that you didn’t know was wrong.
When you were born, you didn’t even know there was a God. Now you do. What changed? God educated you. God has been educating you your whole life and He thoroughly enjoys teaching you. It is God’s willingness to educate you that makes it possible for you to grow closer to Him. When He teaches you new things it is a reward, not a punishment. Do you think this murder issue is the last surprise He’s going to drop on you? You don’t begin to see reality the way He does, but He wants to keep educating you more and more about His point of view. It’s how you and He will form a richer bond, so you need to get up out of that corner and let God set you back onto His lap again. God is not mad at you for doing something that you didn’t know was wrong.
Maybe by now you’ve aborted a thousand babies at your clinic. Maybe you’re a soldier who piloted the drone that killed people and you thought at the time that you were doing your patriotic duty, but you’ve since come to see that the whole mission was immoral in God’s eyes. Maybe you helped your wife commit suicide because she was depressed out of her mind and now God’s telling you that it’s not your place to decide when someone should be put out of their misery. Whatever your personal circumstances were, the far more important question is this: are you going to be teachable or not? Can God share new insights with you without you going into a meltdown and accusing Him of eternally damning you? Can God extend you an invitation to come closer in without you treating it like some shameful punishment? You see, the issue here isn’t what you did, it’s how you’re responding to God teaching you new things.
At this moment in time, we could fill a universe with all of the things you don’t know. There are a gazillion subjects that God would like to discuss with you, but if you aren’t willing to receive new information without shutting down on God, your relationship with Him is going to get permanently stalled. Condemnation is the obstacle that needs to be removed here, and you do that by identifying the lies about God which you are accepting without question.
God does not get mad at you for not knowing what He hasn’t told you. This is a critical principle that you need to ask Him to help you get a hold of. God isn’t going to say, “I can’t believe you aborted your baby!! You vile scum!! How dare you defy Me like that?!” That’s demons talking. You didn’t defy God because you didn’t know what His feelings on abortion were. When God educates you, He’s going to say, “I actually don’t approve of abortions like the one you had. You did it to make your life more convenient—that is an unacceptable reason to kill someone.” God isn’t going to rage at you. He is going to gently inform you. But one nanosecond after He finishes talking, demons will add their two cents, and they will definitely rage and toss in a bunch of accusations which will build the case for why God currently hates you. But He doesn’t hate you, He’s simply educating you, and once you understand more about how good He is, you’ll learn how to separate His Voice from that of demons.
Now for all of you TYPE As who committed accidental killings—you are in a similar situation. You didn’t mean to kill someone. You didn’t realize the food you served was poisonous. You didn’t hear your nephew fall into the pool or you would have saved him before he drowned. You didn’t see that girl who was chasing after her ball until it was too late to brake. You didn’t mean to send the wrong type of blood up to surgery and now the patient is dead because of the transfusion. Maybe you’re a cop and you shot a guy because it looked like he was reaching for his gun, but it turned out he was just taking out his wallet. Certainly you can replay the sequence of events in your mind over and over again. You can keep beating yourself up over the fact that you should have been paying more attention or been in less of a hurry or thought of those other factors, but guess what? God didn’t want you to be perfect in that moment. He wanted things to go exactly as they went, because no one dies on this earth ahead of schedule.
When it comes to cases of accidental, unintentional killings, the simple explanation is this: God used you to kill someone. He didn’t need to involve you, but He chose to because there are positive lessons He wants to bring out of this whole experience which will draw you closer to Him. One of those lessons is gaining a more accurate view of how God judges you and what He expects of you. He doesn’t expect perfection. He expects you to have plenty of moments in which you are tired, stumbling, sloppy, distracted, lazy, and so absorbed in your own concerns that you just don’t care about anyone else. This is called being human.
No human is perfect, and if it weren’t for God constantly protecting us from each other, we’d all have killed each other off a long time ago. So I’m now going to ask you the same question that I asked the TYPE As who killed intentionally yet didn’t realize their actions were wrong at the time: are you going to be teachable? Are you going to be receptive to the fact that God does not share your need to beat you up over this from now on? It was a mistake. You weren’t trying to hurt anyone, so let’s stop turning this into something it’s not and deal with the real issue at hand. This whole experience has revealed where you’ve got some serious holes in your understanding about how good and gracious God is and how easy He is to succeed with. These are far more important issues than pondering what kind of life your victim would have had if they hadn’t been killed by you. No one dies prematurely in God’s universe. You didn’t cheat your victim out of anything: they lived out all of the days that God had allotted to them. So now it’s time to move forward and stop letting your own life be put on hold.
DEALING WITH HUMAN AUTHORITIES – ALL TYPES
The first priority for all of you is to get things cleared up between you and God. If you can be confident that you are in a good standing with Him, then you will have a basis for peace no matter where you’re at with human authorities. Some of you are on death row. Some of you are in jail. Some of you are on the run. Some of you are keeping guilty secrets that you know would get you into major trouble if you were found out. Some of you are letting someone else take the fall for what you did. Regardless of your situation, you need to take care of business between you and God first, because your relationship with Him is the most important one.
Now once you are in alignment with God, the next question for some of you is what to do about human authorities. This is something that you will each need to ask God about. God’s leading in these situations varies quite a bit. The priority for you is to remain in alignment with God by obeying His convictions.
TYPE Bs: you’ve been in rebellion before, and you don’t want to go back there. So if He tells you to turn yourself in, you need to do it. But there are many cases in which God’s leading will not be what you would expect, so you need to be asking Him and not just relying on what other people tell you.
A major challenge for some murderers is dealing with the guilt of feeling insufficiently punished by human law. Maybe you killed people but you got acquitted. Maybe your lawyer did some shady things to make that happen. Or maybe the family of your victim chose not to prosecute. Whatever the situation, the merciful acts of others can quickly compound your guilt, and if this is where you’re at, then you need to recognize it and take steps to address it before you spiral down into total despair. Once again, the key to gaining soul peace is found through making the right soul choices, not in trying to control other humans.
God is the Supreme Authority, and this means He is the Judge who trumps all other authorities. If God arranges for you to be let off the hook and not get the punishment that the law says you deserve, you need to be willing to submit to His Authority. To refuse God’s grace is just a form of domination. It’s not your place to tell God who He can and can’t be merciful to. No, you don’t deserve the grace you are receiving. But then again, none of us do. We’re all having abundant grace and mercy poured down onto our heads every day by God, and He wants us to humbly receive it, not stubbornly refuse it. If you’re thinking about using deception and trickery to get away with your crime, God is probably going to convict you to turn yourself in. But if God forces grace upon you, then you need to be willing to receive it.
Murder is not an unforgivable sin, and you’re not the first murderer God ever let off the hook. King David in the Bible murdered and he was a TYPE B killer. His murder of Bathsheba’s husband Uriah was premeditated and vicious. According to God’s law, David should have been executed by his fellow Israelites. At first, David tried to keep his crime a secret, which made him even more rebellious. It was only after God brought a prophet to get in David’s face with conviction that David finally repented. But though his repentance took a while to happen, it was totally sincere. How did God respond? With an immediate pardon and abundant mercy. God said David was not to be killed. Not only that, but after David was gone, guess how God summarized his life?
“…My servant David, who kept My commandments and who followed Me with all his heart, to do only that which was right in My sight.” (1 Ki. 14:8)
In other words, God said that this notorious, intentional murderer was perfect in His sight. Such is the generosity of God. He judges us according to our soul response to Him, and when He sees that we sincerely want to succeed with Him, He responds with overwhelming grace.
DEALING WITH OTHER PEOPLE
So what about the people who hate you today because of what you did in the past? What about the family members and friends of your victims? What about your own people who no longer want to associate with you because they think you’re some kind of scum? Can the hatred of others mess things up between you and God? No, it can’t. Even if the whole world hates you, God puts total success with Him well within your grasp.
God is the Judge whose rulings trump all others. As a murderer who wants to move on from the past, it is vital that you focus on your relationship with God first and foremost. With God, you are not some hated criminal, you are a dearly loved soul. You are not hopeless, you are full of potential. You are not lost, you are treasured. With God, there is always hope. With God, there is abundant mercy and a plethora of new beginnings. God created you for the purpose of having a personal relationship with Him, and the fact that you have taken a life on this earth has not altered His desire for you one iota. Ask God today to make you all that He wants you to be, and to help you to understand and accept His great love for you.