It must have been a frightening experience for Paolo Gabriele, his wife and three children when the Vatican police arrived on their doorstep. Mr. Gabriele had been Pope Benedict XVI’s butler since 2006, but now he was the focus of a major internal criminal investigation. Someone was leaking very private details of life in the Vatican to outside sources, obviously having stolen some of the pope’s very personal papers. Paolo Gabriele was arrested. Eventually he was convicted and sentenced to 18 months in prison.
The human tendency when we have been wronged or our image capriciously damaged is to be secretly vindictive and intensely unforgiving. So it was newsworthy when Pope Benedict visited his ‘repentant’ former butler to tell him he personally forgave him and to grant him his request for a pardon.
To be released from all traces of wrong-doing and to have it removed from your record is a criminal’s dream come true. For Mr. Gabriele, it will probably go down as the best gift he ever received. Pardoned!
However, the remarkable pardon came with at least one major condition: Paolo Gabriele could no longer be a resident of the world’s smallest country – Vatican City. He had to leave the state and never return to his former occupation. It seems the Pope wished his former trusted aide well and then sent him away.
Human pardons are hugely different from God’s pardons. God does not say to the sinner: “You are forgiven and pardoned from your sins and that’s it! Stay away from Me and all that is Mine.” Rather, God says: “You are completely forgiven and pardoned for all your sins. You are welcomed with outstretched arms into My family forever. I claim you as one of my children and you now have access to all that is Mine for this life and forever!”
“…The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).
“But as many as received Him (Jesus), to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name” (John 1:12).
God is offering you forgiveness and a full pardon for all your sins, those you have forgotten and better still, those you cannot forget. This pardon is available to you today free of charge. To every honest sinner, God offers full forgiveness through the Lord Jesus Christ. But He goes far beyond the concept of a pardon. God also justifies the sinner.
Justification is a great Bible truth. Because of the satisfaction Christ brought to God when He answered for every one of our sins on the Cross, God is able to do something awesome for the sinner. He justifies the sinner. Not only does the saved sinner have a clear record before God, but God welcomes the sinner into His presence with a righteousness and perfection that can never be altered or lost. Because a sinner has embraced God’s Son as Saviour, God sees the justified sinner IN Christ and He can bestow upon the former sinner all the blessings of one totally accepted in Christ.
God’s forgiveness, pardon and justification goes far beyond any gracious act any human can do for another person. Only God can do for you what needs to be done. You will never have true peace until you are right with God. God is waiting for you to accept His gracious offer. Will you accept Christ today?
“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1).
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