It always amazes me that every evil deed has a good reason for it. Whether it’s a wayward husband who blames his wife for his violent behaviour, or a national tyrant, like Syria’s Assad, who massacres his own people ostensibly to maintain order. A good end apparently justifies any horrific means.
In reality everyone knows the husband is covering up his desire to maintain a perverse lifestyle, or Assad is rationalizing his determination to cling to power. It’s only the deranged and psychopath who take delight in violence and misery for its own sake.
The fact that the majority of evildoers must justify their actions, points to recognition of the depravity of their actions in the first place. This in turn suggests a universal moral code with which even the most wicked can identify.
The Bible indicates that God is aware of the difference between convenient excuses to justify sin and genuine remorse for it. Saul was full of reasons and excuses for his disobedience and prevarication, and it lost him the kingdom; worse still, he forfeited God’s forgiveness.
David sin’s of adultery and murder were greater than Saul’s wiliness, yet he received forgiveness. His repentance was real: “my sin is always before me,” David was haunted by conviction of his sin, making him aware of the sinfulness of his heart: “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me” (Psalm 51).
Repentance is a condition for forgiveness. Lip service to repentance won’t cut it, yet we practice it often: “Yes it was wrong, but . . .” as we rationalize our wrong behaviour. We feel justified, and the episode is soon and too easily forgotten.
On the other hand, genuine remorse maintains its grip on the sinner; for the Christian who sins against God, it is an agony—until His forgiveness sets him free. As David discovered: “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.”