The Second (Or Third, Fourth, Fifth…) Time You Sin

One of the peskiest things I dealt with in middle and high school and college math was my penchant for making careless mistakes. I would always get tests or quizzes back with something circled wrong that was simply a mistake. I would add something wrong or divide instead of multiply, something like that. Granted, my math skills were and still are limited, but I remember one teacher in particular pulling me aside and saying, “Zach, you need to avoid careless errors. Take your time.”

Now that I’m older (and no longer taking math classes, thank goodness), I’m learning that certain sins in my life are like those careless errors in math; they just seem to come up again and again. Some people call them “besetting sins.”

Dictionary.com defines “besetting” as “constantly assailing or obsessing, as with temptation.” There are certain sins in my life that I could define as “besetting”: laziness, selfishness, lust, not trusting God and more.

So often, for me, it’s easy to get discouraged when those sins pop up again and again. I know there was grace the first time, but I struggle with receiving grace the second time. I think of verses like Romans 6:1-2,

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?

Yes, we should not take advantage of grace by sinning. We should be seeking obedience of our Father.

But we should not ignore grace.

I repeat, we should not ignore grace.

Grace is still as fresh to the repentant heart of a true believer the second, third, fourth and fifth time as it is after the first time. And if we forget that, we forget the foundation of our salvation. We first desired Christ, a desire drawn up by the Holy Spirit, because we knew we sinned again and again, and because of that, we found ourselves opposed to God and in need of a sacrifice, one that Jesus offered up on the cross.

If we sit in guilt of our sin and don’t let grace motivate us to seek repentance and obedience, we are claiming that we believe that our sin is greater than the grace that God gives freely to His children.

Think about the story of the Israelites. All throughout the Old Testament, you see the people of Israel obeying God, then doing what was evil in God’s sight, then seeing their need for forgiveness, then turning to God. Then they would repeat the cycle, over and over again. We’re the same way because, on earth, we will never be without sin.

But we must remember, that if we are in Christ, Romans 8:1 is true for us:

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

If you are saved, you are not condemned. Ever again.

So today, tonight, this afternoon, whatever it is, if you are a Christian and your besetting sin has got you down again, I beg you, do not forget the grace of your Father God. He desires for you to live in grace. He desires for you to have a contrite heart, convicted of your sin (I wrote about this in one of the first posts on this blog over two years ago), and to seek His grace and obedience in light of that.

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