then they cast him out of the city and stoned him. and the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named saul. and as they were stoning stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” and falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” and when he had said this, he fell asleep. and saul approved of his execution.
and there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of judea and samaria, except the apostles. devout men buried stephen and made great lamentation over him. but saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison. [acts 7:58-8:3]
paul would later call himself “the worst of sinners” and we get to see that here.
if God can forgive paul for overseeing the murder of early christians, then what could he not forgive? and if God can forgive anything, why do we still try to hide our sin? murder repented from cannot keep you from relationship with God, but even the “smallest” sins hidden and unrepented from will sow death and destruction. if you have hidden sin, do not hesitate! the power of the cross is sufficient for you, no matter your situation. you are only ever one step away from right relationship with God; repent, and He will do His work!
that is at the core of who we are as christians: we are not the people who don’t sin anymore, we are the people who humbly repent.
~ stephen hall