For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned, but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. (John 3:16-19, N.K.J.V.)
In late 1829, George Wilson and James Porter engaged in a series of mail train robberies. Ultimately, the two men were caught and charged with not only the robberies but also putting the life of a certain mail carrier, who had tried to stop them, in danger. The two were found guilty and sentenced to be hanged. The executions were to be carried out on July 2, 1830.
James Porter was executed as planned on that date, but by then Wilson’s influential friends had gone to President Andrew Jackson on his behalf and had asked for a pardon for him. Jackson had granted that pardon on June 14 under the condition that Wilson might still be eligible to serve a maximum of twenty years in prison for the series of crimes. Incredibly, however, Wilson refused the pardon!
At that point no one knew where Wilson stood legally, and so the case was taken up by the Supreme Court. Chief Justice John Marshall wrote the opinion of the court, an opinion that basically said that a pardon is just a slip of paper, the value of which is to be determined by the acceptance of the person to be pardoned. Therefore, since George Wilson refused his pardon, he was hanged.
A condemned person refusing a pardon? Whoever heard of such a thing, right? Oh, trust me, it’s not so uncommon. The fact is, the world is filled with lost people who have heard about the free pardon of sin offered to anyone who will place saving belief in Jesus, but these people have refused the offer.
Tell me, you aren’t one of these people are you? If you are, then I ask you, what is keeping you from accepting your pardon? Surely you don’t enjoy walking around condemned. And remember, when it comes to this type of condemnation, there is no relief even in death. This condemnation is eternal. Your physical death will officially begin it, not officially end it. That is a sobering reality, and it’s one that you would do well to avoid.