Even though we sin daily, God freely forgives us time after time, and he gives us the strength to live for him again.
“I’m so sorry. I won’t do it again. I promise.”
For the teenage daughter of an alcoholic father, these words have come to mean little to nothing. It’s been a long ten-year journey for my entire family. Through it all, God was there, holding me up when I could not stand and sheltering me with his love as I walked through the trials he had given me.
Addicted to sin
When thinking about the words I so frequently heard coming from my father’s mouth, I realized that I had been guilty of doing the exact same thing. No, I have never had to apologize for drinking. Rather, we believers apologize in this way to God for our sins. We are to God, in a sense, alcoholics that he loves dearly. But instead of being addicted to alcohol, we are hopelessly addicted to sin.
Every time we tell God we are sorry and promise we will never do “something like that” again. Each time we go back on our promises. We fail. We fail miserably and frequently. We may be sincere about our resolve to avoid sin, but, like addicts, we fail to do as we want. And just like the alcoholic’s false promises hurt those to whom they are made, so also do my false promises and failed attempts at holy living cause my heavenly Father sadness.
Forgiven and strengthened by our Father
From my mouth, I often forgave my father. But unlike the imperfect human forgiveness that I offered him, God offers all people his free, perfect, and complete forgiveness. God freely forgives us time after time, and he gives us the strength to live for him again. “The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love” (Psalm 103:8).
How do we cure ourselves from our addiction to sin? We can’t. Only God can do that. An alcoholic cannot quit by himself; he needs support to change his life. We too need support and can find unwavering encouragement in God’s Word.
We do need to understand ourselves. The first thing they tell you in alcoholic recovery is that you will always be an alcoholic, but you can strive to be a recovering alcoholic. In the same way, we will always have a sinful craving for what is evil as long as we breathe. In this world, we will always be sin addicts. Listening to God’s Word—hearing the message of Jesus and his forgiveness—can help us defeat our cravings more often and heal from our past mistakes.
My father may have failed in keeping his promises, and we may continue to fail in keeping our promises to God and to others. But God will always keep his promises. What a joy! What a shelter! What security we find in him. “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10:23).
Thank God for his limitless grace, free forgiveness, and sure promise of heaven. Only through him and his strength was I able to get through some of the darkest years of my life. To anyone struggling right now: Have faith. Trust him. Pray, because he is always listening.
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Romans 8:35,37).
Due to the personal nature of this article, the author’s name has been withheld.
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Volume 104, Number 2
Issue: February 2017
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