In 1829, George Wilson was arrested for robbing mail trains and endangering the life of a mail carrier. He was sentenced to die by hanging.
Wilson had powerful friends who convinced President Andrew Jackson to grant Wilson a reprieve from the gallows. The president issued a pardon in June 1830, but Wilson officially rejected the pardon in October of that same year. The case was taken to the Supreme Court, which ruled:
A pardon is a deed, to the validity of which delivery is essential, and delivery is not complete without acceptance. It may then be rejected by the person to whom it is tendered, and if it be rejected, we have discovered no power in a court to force it on him.
Wilson was duly executed.
I think back to the night that Jesus was arrested. Two of his disciples failed him in a big way. Judas betrayed Jesus, selling his Lord for a bag of silver. Peter denied him, calling down curses on himself as he lied about being a follower of Jesus.
Both of them felt terrible remorse after the fact. One of them, Peter, returned to Jesus and sought forgiveness. The other, Judas, fled from God and committed suicide. Peter found forgiveness and went on to become a great leader in the church. Judas refused to seek God's pardon and died a hopeless man.
Because a pardon that isn't accepted is no pardon at all.