The Beginning of Atonement

The beginning of atonement is the sense of its necessity. --Lord Byron


I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninetynine righteous persons who do not need to repent. (Luke 15:6-8)

Quite a few years ago, Governor Neff of the State of Texas received an invitation to speak at one of the penitentiaries in that state. He spoke to the assembled prisoners, and afterward said that he would be around for a while to listen to anything any of the convicts might wish to tell him. He would take as much time as they wanted, and anything they would tell him would be kept in confidence.

The convicts began to come, one at a time. One after another told him a story of how they had been unjustly sentenced, were innocent, and wished to get out. Finally one man came through who said to him, "Governor Neff, I do not want to take much of your time. I only want to say that I really did what they convicted me of. But I have been here a number of years. I believe I have paid my debt to society, and that, if I were to be released, I would be able to live an upright life and show myself worthy of your mercy."
This was the man whom Governor Neff pardoned.

It is very easy to justify our sins, but in order to be forgiven we have to be sorry for all the things we have done to hurt God, and the only way we can be truly contrite is by acknowledging our sins. 
 

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