over and over

December 4, 2014

praying mom

We all struggle with recurring sins. They’re like a piece of furniture that you keep hitting your shin against. At some point, you would think you would learn to avoid it. But when it’s been a while and you aren’t thinking about it–Whack! You do it again.

 

Genesis 20 shows us Abraham, the father of faith, whacking his shin on the same piece of furniture. He does the same stupid thing here that he did in chapter 12: He claims that Sarah is his sister, and she is taken into the harem of a king. Liberal critics argue that these two accounts (and chapter 26, where Isaac does the same thing) are really the same story, which a not-too-smart editor mistakenly put in several places. But there are a number of obvious differences between the three accounts, and there is no reason to doubt their historicity. They are true to life and show us that certain sins plague us throughout life, and that they are often passed on to our children.

 

After the high point of Abraham’s fellowship and prayer (chap. 18), you wouldn’t think that this could happen. If the Bible was a fairy tale, it wouldn’t. But the Bible is a realistic book that shows us the humanness of all its heroes. Abraham’s weak areas show us the struggles in the life of faith and give us hope for ourselves. If God could work with a sinner like Abraham, then He can work with me!

 

There are two main themes in this chapter: the failure of Abraham; and, the faithfulness of God. Yes, Abraham sinned, but God didn’t cast him off. He dealt with His erring child and followed it up by fulfilling the long-awaited promise of a son (chap. 21). That’s grace! The chapter shows that …

 

While we are prone to besetting sins, God is marked by holiness and grace.

 

There’s a fine balance here. If the text only portrayed Abraham’s sin and God’s grace, we might be inclined toward license: “Don’t worry about your sin, because God is gracious.” But the chapter won’t allow that wrong application. God’s holiness and the damage our sin causes is balanced with His grace, so that we won’t take our sin lightly.

 

I don’t mean that we can’t experience consistent victory over them. By God’s grace and power, we can. But I do mean that there will never be a time when we’re so strong spiritually that we don’t have to be on guard against them. If you ever get to thinking, “I’ve finally got that problem licked once and for all,” look out! “Let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Cor. 10:12). Abraham had walked with God for years, but he fell into the same sin that had defeated him twenty years before.

 

Some branches of Christianity teach that we can reach a state of sinless perfection in this life. How I wish it were so! The Bible teaches that we can have consistent victory over sin, but it also teaches that even the strongest saints are always vulnerable to temptation. As long as we remember that we’re weak, so that we walk in the Spirit, we’ll be strong in His strength. But the minute we forget it, or start thinking we’re strong in ourselves, we’re in trouble.

 

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

Pray for Richard and his Alzheimer’s, Carolyn who fell and broke her hip, Jessica who is fighting drug addiction, Roberta and shoplifting, she is facing some serious court time and fines. And Andrew who is battling sexual addiction.

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