Paul, also called Saul (Acts 13:9), was the scourge of early Christians in the years following the crucifixion. He was an accessory to murder (Acts 8:1), he persecuted and imprisoned many Christians (Acts 8:3, 9:1-2; Gal 1:13-14) and he was universally feared by all Christians (Acts 9:13-14, 21). He was saved by the grace of God after his experience on the road to Damascus. Nearly three years were required (Gal 1:18) for Paul to come to grips with his transformation from evil persecutor and murderer to a man saved by the grace of God. Paul survived to author at least 13 books of the New Testament.
John Newton was a slave ship commander who brutalized and murdered countless captives. He lived to write Amazing Grace after his conversion to Christianity.
These are two familiar examples out of millions. Without question, God offers the great gift of salvation to every person who will ever live regardless of the breadth and depth of sin. But what about the multitude of injured and broken lives left in the wake of our sinful behavior? After we ratify the sin nature as our own, at the age of accountability, damage begins to accumulate in the lives of those around us as we drag them into the muck of evil. Can damaged lives be repaired? Can wrecked lives be restored? We pray, “Almighty God, restore to wholeness whatever has been broken by my sin.” Unfortunately, most lives that are broken by our sin cannot be restored to wholeness. Sin can be forgiven by God and man, but the consequences stand!
In general, I cannot repair, reconstruct and restore lives damaged or broken by my sin. I can only confess my sin with remorse in my heart, ask forgiveness and move forward as an instrument of Jesus Christ.