President’s Day is always observed on the third Monday in February. While it was originally instituted to honor George Washington, it has evolved into a holiday to commemorate all of the individuals who have held our nation’s highest office.
One of the unique powers that our president possesses is the ability to grant pardons. This privilege is enumerated in Article II of our Constitution and presidential pardons cannot be reversed by Congress or any court. This power is limited, however, to federal crimes and cannot be granted for impeachment. Furthermore, no president can pardon an individual for future crimes or charges not yet brought.
Former President Trump pardoned 237 individuals while Bill Clinton pardoned nearly twice that many at 459. Barack Obama issued 1,927 but President Franklin Delano Roosevelt granted the most pardons at 3,786.
A presidential pardon is a great gift and absolves the pardoned of all legal responsibility. In some cases it frees an individual from incarceration while in others it eliminates monetary judgments. It gives a person the chance to start over in life as if their crime had not been committed.
Presidential pardons do not mean, however, that the person is, in fact, innocent. In situations where an individual has already been convicted, it means just the opposite. It means that the person is guilty but released from punishment.
The power of presidents to grant clemency reminds us of the power held by our Heavenly Father. Since He is the Supreme Ruler, His ability to grant pardons is not restricted by any document or statute. It is, however, restricted by His justice.
God is perfectly just and will ultimately hold all accountable for our actions. Since Romans 3:23 tells us that we have all sinned and since Romans 6:23 tells us that the wages of sin is death, we have a great problem. Our guilt guarantees our physical and spiritual deaths.
However, in God’s great grace, He arranged a way for His justice to be satisfied while still pardoning us. Because of His measureless love, He became a human being and died in our place to pay for all our sins. And in the greatest victory of all, He rose from the dead granting freedom from death’s incarceration.
Unlike the president whose powers are limited to certain jurisdictions and situations, God can and does pardon all sin. The only sins exempted are the ones we refuse to confess and seek His forgiveness for.
In addition, God is capable of forgiving future sins we will yet commit. Although presidents can’t do this, God can and does. This doesn’t give us carte blanche to ignore His Commandments and teachings, and if we have genuinely received His pardon, His grace will certainly motivate us to love and obey Him. But it does allow us to live free of shame and guilt.
God’s pardon does not mean that we are not guilty. We are. It just means that Jesus assumed our guilt and was punished in our place. Unlike a pardon that erases all punishment, Jesus was punished for us and paid our fine, did our time, and suffered our execution. This sobering fact should constrain us from taking advantage of such mercy by willful disobedience.
So too, God’s pardons cannot be overturned. Even though Satan may try, even though our consciences may protest, and even though others may judge, none of these can ever reverse our innocence before God.
The only stipulation is that we apply for and accept God’s clemency. He doesn’t force His pardons on anyone but offers them freely to everyone. To apply and accept, we must admit and confess our sin to God and ask for His pardon that Jesus died to provide. If we are sincere, He will not withhold His forgiveness. If you never have, apply for and receive God’s full pardon today.