Repeated Sinning and the Hope of Forgiveness

When we return to God in brokenness and in confidence that he has already provided forgiveness in the blood of Christ, we will make it our renewed aim to be well-pleasing to him.

God has redeemed us so that we would walk in paths of righteousness. Jesus died to both the guilt and the power of sin so that those for whom he died can walk in newness of life. “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people,” writes the apostle, “training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age” (Titus 2:11-12).

 

I recently asked a group of church members if they had ever struggled with assurance of salvation. There was an overwhelming affirmation that all had struggled in the quest for that sweet subjective assurance for which believers often long in their souls. This is not at all a strange thing in the history of the church. Many of the Reformers, Puritans, and other Reformed theologians wrote volumes to address the intricacies of this important subject.

For instance, John Owen’s The Forgiveness of Sin, William Guthrie’s The Christian’s Great Interest, John Colquhoun’s Spiritual Comfort, David Dickson and James Durham’s The Sum of Saving Knowledge, Gisbertus Voetius and Johannes Hoornbeeck’s Spiritual Desertion, and D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones’s Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Cure were all products of pastoral concern to help believers gain and maintain the assurance of salvation.

How can a true believer commit a particular sin—sometimes repeatedly—after he or she comes to Christ?

Many who have trusted in Christ struggle deeply in their consciences over their post-conversion sins. How can a true believer commit a particular sin—sometimes repeatedly—after he or she comes to Christ? How do I know whether I have really repented of my sin if I have committed it on a recurrent basis? Have I really and truly repented if I fall into it again?

How do we reconcile the fact that the apostle John says, “No one born of God makes a practice of sinning” (1 John 3:9) with the fact that the apostle James says, “We all stumble in many ways” (James 3:2)? These and a myriad of other questions are bound up with the issue of the subjective assurance of salvation.

God has redeemed us so that we would walk in paths of righteousness. Jesus died to both the guilt and the power of sin so that those for whom he died can walk in newness of life.

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