Luke 23:39-43, MSG “One criminal hanging alongside cursed him: Some Messiah you are! Save yourself! Save us!” But the other one made him shut up: Have you no fear of God? You’re getting the same as him. We deserve this, but not him—he did nothing to deserve this. Then he said, Jesus, remember me when you enter your kingdom. He said, “Don’t worry, I will. Today you will join me in paradise.”
Does this mean the person went to heaven after living a life of crime? The answer is yes. Why did God forgive him? First, the repentant thief was alive, and second, he was truly sorry for his crimes, which he spoke so eloquently to the non-repentant thief as he chastised him. Here is the real meaning of forgiveness—a repentant heart and fear of God simultaneously. You cannot fool God. He perceives your heart, and that will never change because He made us, and He comprehends everything about us.
If a person states he is sorry but does not express it in their heart, they are only fooling themselves because man cannot deceive God. “Don’t be misled: You can never make a fool out of God. Whatever you plant is what you’ll harvest (Galatians 6:7, MSG).” The original translation states: “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatever a man sows, that shall he also reap.” (Gal 6:7, KJV) Many people try to fool themselves into believing they can bargain or slip under God’s watchful eyes, pretend to repent, and then go back to sin with no consequences. However, God knows everything. And in His divine wisdom, He is waiting for them to repent because He loves them, but if they don’t repent, they will go to their earthly father, who will torment them for an eternity.
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