Will God forgive you if you keep repeating the same sin over and over again? This is a great question because, as I mentioned on our previous Little Lesson, none of us have reached perfection yet.
“We all stumble,” James said, “in many ways, and if anyone hasn’t stumbled in what he says,” there’s the biggest stumbling place right there, “he’s a perfect man, or woman, able to bridle the whole body as well.” (see James 3:2). And he goes on to elaborate about how the tongue is this unruly thing.
There’s an area that we can always probably use improvement on, “that no unwholesome word would proceed from our mouths, but only what is good for edification that it might give grace to those who hear it,” as Paul wrote to the Ephesians (see Ephesians 4:29).
Stumbling Accidentally, Not Intentionally, Into Sin
We’re still stumbling accidentally, not intentionally. No believer is willfully sinning. Every true believer, even when they do sin, has an inward resistance to that saying, “No, no, no, no, no.” And even if we yield to the temptation, the whole time it’s, “No, no, no.” After yielding to the temptation, there’s now a different feeling on the inside, “Oh, you shouldn’t have done that. You are guilty. You have sinned against God. You have disobeyed the Lord,” and it’s that feeling of conviction.
As we talked about on our previous Little Lesson, of course we’re supposed to confess our sins, and God promises that, when we do that, He will forgive our sins. Always, of course, there’s a purposing in our hearts to not repeat it. Of course you don’t want to repeat it. You didn’t want to do it the first time, and so, of course, when you confess it and you’ve gone through that process, then you’re thinking is all, “Man, I want to avoid this as much as possible. I don’t want to do this ever again.”
I did, one time, talk in a Little Lesson some time ago about how to get victory over sin and some Biblical principles there. But I want to talk, in this Little Lesson, about the question, “If I keep repeating the same sin over and over again, will God always forgive me?”
Will God Always Forgive Me If I Keep Repeating the Same Sin?
Well, that’s a great question, and no wonder we ask that question. We think, “Well, how much mercy does God have? If I do it too many times, it’ll expose that I must not really be sincere.”
But I think this is the place where the devil loves to get in and defeat us by condemning us, causing us to doubt the mercy of God and that he will keep his promise to forgive us if we confess our sins, to try to get us just to give up and say, “There’s no sense in even trying because I have out-sinned the grace of God.”
Well, Paul said, “God used me as an example to show everybody how merciful he is, because I was a persecutor of the church, and a blasphemer, and a violent aggressor, and yet God showed me mercy to set an example that He’d forgive the chief of sinners” (see 1 Timothy 1:12-17).
God’s Promise of Continual Forgiveness
So will God keep forgiving you? Yes, He will keep forgiving you. Another reason that we can believe that is because there was a time when the apostle Peter—whom I love so much because of his forthrightness and his transparency and his bumbling transparency, at times—one time he asked Jesus (almost you could imagine him with a bit of air of kind of superiority over his spirituality)…
Then Peter came and said to Him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times? – Matthew 18:21
As if, woo-hoo, Peter, impressive! He’s thinking Jesus is going to say, “Wow, Peter, seven? I was only thinking maybe two or three. But wow, Peter, you’re really merciful.” But no, that’s not what the Lord said.
Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven. – v. 22
So that’s 490 times if your brother comes and asks you to forgive him you are obligated to forgive him. 490 times. If the Lord expects that much forgiveness to come out of you and come out of me, well, that’s a pretty good indication that He’s going to at least come up to his own standards for us, right?
The Forgiveness God Expects of Us
I don’t really think that the Lord meant for us to be keeping one of those little counter clickers in our hands, and every time a brother or sister in Christ asks for our forgiveness we say, “Okay, that’s 1. You got 469 left, so be careful.” And then 7 years later, “Okay, that’s 422.”
No, I don’t think that’s what the Lord was saying. I think the Lord was saying just keep on forgiving as long as that brother or sister keeps on coming back to you, because it indicates some degree of sincerity.
Even though it becomes less believable every time they come, the Lord expects us to be that merciful. Boy, if you don’t forgive somebody that asks you to forgive them, you’re in big trouble according to Jesus. We’re taught to pray, in The Lord’s Prayer, “forgive us our sins or transgressions, as to the degree—to the extent—that we forgive others” (see Matthew 6:12). After that prayer, Jesus gave an explanation and said, “If you don’t forgive others, neither will your Father in Heaven forgive you.”
Now, of course, it is important to add the element of expecting people to come to us humbly and ask for forgiveness, and this is actually the next question that I want to cover on our next Little Lesson, “Do I have to forgive people who don’t ask for forgiveness?” I’m going to leave it as a cliffhanger, so I’ll get you tomorrow or whenever the next time is you have a chance to hear the answer to that question.
But yes, I mean just think about this for a moment. Don’t you have to ask forgiveness to get forgiveness from God? Does He automatically give it? Something to think about.
Not a License to Sin
In any case, I’m not offering anyone a license to sin. And there will be some mean people who will, no doubt, say, “Well, you’re just a greasy grace preacher telling people they can sin all they want, and all they have to do is just confess it.”
No. No true Christian is thinking, “How many times can I sin and get away with it,” or “How many times can I use that forgiveness thing?” No, true Christians want to please God. They are trying. And even those that are stumbling and falling a lot, God loves them. And if they confess their sins, He forgives them. Amen.
Okay? Hope to see you in the next Little Lesson. God bless you.