Is there a point where someone becomes too wicked for God to redeem?

If Hitler had repented, would God have saved him regardless of all the death and darkness exhibited in his life?

I know the “right Christian” answer, but I pondered the question afresh the last couple of weeks as I’ve noticed an ever-increasing rise of evil and sin being promoted and celebrated around the world. Can God actually do something about all this? Can He change people’s lives so seeped in sin that it appears all is lost?

I found several encouragements…


If you asked me to name some of Judah’s worst and wicked kings, Manasseh would be on my shortlist. We are told that he became king at age 12 and reigned for 55 years (2 Chronicles 33:1).

His reign and life are summed up as: “And he did what was evil in the sight of Yahweh” (2 Chronicles 33:2).

Manasseh had a great dad but an evil grandfather. His grandfather Ahaz “did not do what was right in the sight of Yahweh” (2 Chronicles 28:1) and did countless evil deeds, including child sacrifice. But Ahaz’s son Hezekiah (the father of Manasseh) was a godly man and “he did what was right in the sight of Yahweh, according to all that David his father had done” (2 Chronicles 29:2). Hezekiah basically reversed everything Ahaz did; he repented, cleansed the Temple, tore down the pagan idols, and trusted Yahweh amidst extreme and difficult situations (just to name a few).

Yet, when Manasseh began to reign at age twelve, he rejected Yahweh and did innumerable acts of wickedness. His reign is recorded as:

“Indeed, he rebuilt the high places which Hezekiah his father had torn down; and he erected altars for the Baals and made Asherim, and worshiped all the host of heaven and served them. And he built altars in the house of Yahweh, of which Yahweh had said, ‘In Jerusalem My name shall be forever.’ Indeed, he built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of Yahweh. He even made his sons pass through the fire in the valley of Ben-hinnom; and he practiced soothsaying, interpreted omens, practiced sorcery, and dealt with mediums and spiritists. He did much that was evil in the sight of Yahweh, provoking Him to anger. Then he put the graven image of the idol, which he had made, in the house of God …” (2 Chronicles 33:3–7).

In summary, “Thus Manasseh led Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem astray in order to do more evil than the nations whom Yahweh destroyed before the sons of Israel” (2 Chronicles 33:9).

Evil indeed.

But God …

I have come to love the phrase “But God …” — it may be one of the greatest statements in all of Scripture. Paul wrote in Ephesians 2:1–5:

“And you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience, among whom we all also formerly conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, doing the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved…”

Despite OUR wickedness and sin, “but God!” Or as Paul said in Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” In rebellion and sin, I was shaking my fist in God’s face, yet in His love, He died for me so that I might have life. He took my sin so I could have His righteousness (see 2 Corinthians 5:21).

We see a shadow of this love and forgiveness with Manasseh. Later on in Manasseh’s ungodly reign, Yahweh allowed the Assyrians to come against Jerusalem and take Manasseh to Babylon with a hook in his nose and chains on his hands (see 2 Chronicles 33:11).

It was during his captivity in Babylon that “when he was in distress, he entreated Yahweh his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers. Then he prayed to Him, and He was moved by his entreaty and heard his supplication, and returned him back to Jerusalem to his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that Yahweh was God” (2 Chronicles 33:12–13).

Manasseh repented; one of Judah’s most evil kings humbled himself, repented, and turned back to Yahweh.

And God restored him to his throne in Jerusalem, where Manasseh “removed the foreign gods and the idol from the house of Yahweh, as well as all the altars which he had built on the mountain of the house of Yahweh and in Jerusalem, and he threw them outside the city. And he set up the altar of Yahweh and sacrificed peace offerings and thank offerings on it; and he said for Judah to serve Yahweh, the God of Israel” (2 Chronicles 33:15–16).

The Assyrians

One other quick illustration is found in the book of Jonah.

Though we typically focus on the fish (which isn’t the point of the book and only appears in three verses), the book is focused on the repentance of Assyria and the lack of repentance of Jonah. In short, it is about God’s lovingkindness (hesed) toward those who repent.

Yet, when you examine the culture of the Assyrians and their capital city (Nineveh), you discover that many historians consider Assyria to be the worst, most wicked, and cruelest nation to have ever existed. They weren’t just morally bad, they were vile and evil beyond description. They delighted in, celebrated, and propagated every form of sin, torture, and wickedness. They were, as an extreme (but realistic) description, a nation full of Hitlers; and they were proud of it.

They were as bad as bad can be.

But God …

God calls a reluctant prophet to go to Nineveh and declare that they need to repent.

When Jonah finally arrives, he gives an unenthusiastic message of five Hebrew words, translated: “Yet forty days and Nineveh will be overthrown” (Jonah 3:4). And while Jonah doesn’t want them to repent and rather be destroyed, this city full of people walking in wickedness and sin “believed in God; and they called a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest to the least of them” (Jonah 3:5).

So God showed them mercy, forgiveness, and lovingkindness (Jonah 3:10; 4:2).

The most wicked nation in history experienced forgiveness.

Seek and Save the Lost

Jesus summarized His ministry as “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10). And we see the pursuit of God to rescue, redeem, and restore all throughout Scripture—climaxing at the Cross.

As Corrie ten Boom often said, “There is no pit so deep, that God’s love is not deeper still.” 1

When a convicted criminal was dying upon a cross next to Jesus, even he had not fallen beyond reach; for when he turned to Christ and repented, Jesus said, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43).

So, is there a point where someone becomes too wicked for God to redeem?


God desires everyone to be saved and come to the full knowledge of the truth (see 1 Timothy 2:3–4). Will everyone be saved? No. But God desires that everyone would humble themselves and put their hope, faith, and trust in Him. For He so loved the world that Jesus came so that whoever would believe in Him would not perish but have eternal life (see John 3:16).

The incredible good news (Gospel) is that no one is out of God’s reach. So whether you have an unbeliving family member, a stubborn lost friend, know of a politician who promotes darkness, or look at the encroaching evil in our world and wonder if there is hope … yes there is, His name is Jesus.

And if God could forgive wicked Manasseh and show lovingkindness to evil Nineveh, then there is assuredly hope, in these days, for the unbelieving world. Will we allow God to use our lives and lips to declare this grand and glorious Gospel?

  1. This came from something her sister, Betsie, told her while they were in Ravensbruck: “We must tell them that there is no pit so deep that He is not deeper still.” [Corrie ten Boom, The Hiding Place (Grand Rapids, MI: Chosen Books, 1974, 1984), 227.] ↩︎

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