Day 11 – Jan 11 – Can a murderer go to heaven?

Today’s verse:
2 Corinthians 7: 10
For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.” (NKJV)

David Berkowitz killed six and injured seven people between July 1976 and July 1977 in New York. Known as the ‘Son of Sam’ or the ‘.44 Caliber Killer’, today he is serving his life sentence in the Sullivan Correctional Facility in Fallsburg, New York. In March 2002, Berkowitz sent a letter to New York Governor George Pataki asking that his parole hearing be canceled, stating: “In all honesty, I believe that I deserve to be in prison for the rest of my life. I have, with God’s help, long ago come to terms with my situation and I have accepted my punishment.” What happened in between? Why did David Berkowitz react this way to a possible chance to be free?

In 1987, Berkowitz became a born again Christian in prison because a fellow inmate loaned him a Gideon’s New Testament Bible. The Son of Sam became a son of God. A person involved in occult practices had turned away from the darkness to light.

David Berkowitz’s crimes cannot be condoned in anyway. He destroyed individuals and families. Lives were changed permanently because of this one man’s actions. But when Berkowitz met Jesus, he changed. God gives those chances. He gives those chances to the most unworthy in society. Actually, he gives it to everybody but it is important to note that the offer is valid even for rapists, killers, prostitutes, blackmailers, gangsters and robbers.

When writing to the church at Corinth, Paul was addressing a serious issue that needed immediate and direct intervention. He did not care if the people at the church felt offended by his words. He told them where they were wrong and he expected them to turn from their ways. “For even if I made you sorry with my letter, I do not regret it; though I did regret it. For I perceive that the same epistle made you sorry, though only for a while.” (2 Corinthians 7:8)

He also did not give up on them. He did not reprimand them and cast them out of the church. Paul’s correction to the Corinthians was in love. He wanted them to turn away from sin and do the right thing. It is important to note the church’s response. “Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing.” (2 Corinthians 7:9). The church at Corinth was not offended. They felt bad. Their sorrow turned them towards God, not away from Him. That is true repentance.

When you do something wrong, you have the choice of being sad and to move away from God thinking that He will never forgive you. Or you have the choice, from God, to say sorry and draw closer to him. There is really nothing you can do to make him stop loving you. You cannot do anything to make him forsake you or leave you. But you have the choice to turn back from your ways and look to him. To talk to him. To cry with him. To walk with him. That, really, is your choice.

When you do that, John Newton’s song makes sense –
“Amazing grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.”

Pray in your own words: Tell Him you are turning away from your sins. Tell Him you are coming back. Tell Him what’s on your heart. Tell Him you need Him.

Daily Bible Reading: Genesis 27-28 (Old Testament), Matthew 8: 18 – 34 (New Testament). (Click here to read)
(This plan is a yearly plan where you can read the full Bible in a single year.)


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