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My mother died when I was young and I suffered physical and mental abuse, which made me struggle to believe in a loving God. I want to know God now though. Can he forgive me for the life I have lived?
Thank you for your question. I am sorry to hear that you have had a difficult life with losing your mother and facing abuse from your other family. I pray that God will comfort you and drawn near to you.
The Good News of the Gospel is this:
If you genuinely call out to God for forgiveness through Jesus Christ, he WILL forgive you and give you eternal life. This is God's promise in the Bible:
Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved" (Romans 10:9-13).
This is one of my favourite passages of the Bible because there are no exceptions. If you believe that Jesus died for your sin and God raised him from the dead to give you new life... you are given new life. Consider another favourite passage of mine:
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:18-21)
And another verse:
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23).
Here are some other verses about going to heaven:
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16)
"Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life" (John 3:36)
"Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life" (John 5:24)
"For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day" (John 6:40)
For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. (Romans 6:5)
And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed (Acts 13:48)
There is no sin too great that Jesus can not forgive. While on earth he forgave murders, prostitutes, adulterers, thieves and all kinds of sinful people. The ultimate reason we can be forgiven is not about the wrong we have done, but who we belong to.
Before we turn to Christ we are 'in Adam'. This means that we are part of Adam's heritage. Adam sinned first and all have sinned since and therefore we all deserve to die. However, Jesus is known as the second Adam who did not sin yet bore the sin of his followers. When a believer turns to God through Jesus, God no longer sees our old life but the new life we have in Christ. We are then known as 'In Christ' instead of 'in Adam'. He has forgiven us because Jesus died to take the punishment that we deserve.
Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned— for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.
But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man's trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. And the free gift is not like the result of that one man's sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. For if, because of one man's trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.
Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man's obedience the many will be made righteous. Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 5:12-21).
We are called to ask for forgiveness and also forgive others, including ourselves. Ultimately if you are not forgiving yourself you are saying that the work of Jesus on the cross is not good enough. Of course it may take time for you to emotionally forgive and let go, but that is different to believing that it is true even if you do not feel emotionally like it is true. And if you are forgiven in God's eyes, does you being able or unable to accept that make any actual difference to what is true? If you trust in Christ you are forgiven, and there is nothing else to say.
We are then called to turn from our sin and follow Christ. This involves being baptised to show our old way has died and we rise to new life with Christ. We are also encouraged to attend meetings with other believers, pray, read the bible, share with others about God.
If you are not geographically close to a Church perhaps consider starting a simple Bible study in your home and inviting others, this is how the Church has grown over the years. Or with online resources you could be part of a Church community from miles away. You should not attempt the Christian life on your own.
Please use our Interactive Answer Matrix and feel free to ask another question. Our helpful staff are praying for you and waiting to try and answer to you from the Bible, and will be delighted to tell you more about Jesus Christ the Lord, the Saviour of the world.
*All Scripture references are taken From The English Standard Version of the Holy Bible unless stated otherwise
*If anything in this answer affects you directly, then please feel free to call our confidential prayer line in the UK on 0845 4567729, where trained Christian volunteers will take your call and pray both for you and with you. If you are outside of the UK then you may submit your request for prayer on line at www.ucb.co.uk/prayerline
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