I am about half way through Genesis and I see a pattern emerging that I recognize from previous Bible readings – one that will continue throughout the rest of the Bible. Whether it is illustrated through the stories of Noah, Abraham or others, humanity’s ability to consistently sin in really horrific ways and then repent, trusting and loving the Lord only to repeat the cycle is incredible. I recognize this Sin, Repent, Repeat cycle in my own life – Maybe you see it in yours.
9b we have already shown that all people, whether Jews or Gentiles, are under the power of sin. 10 As the Scriptures say, “No one is righteous – not even one.”
– Romans 3:9-10
Now, I am not Noah. He loved and trusted the Lord so much that he spent over 50 years building a massive boat that would accommodate all of the animals in the world. He also convinced his family that God was going to destroy everything with a flood and got them to live in the home-built zoo for a year. Later in life, though, Noah created the concept of having “a glass” of wine with dinner. Later that night, He was also the first person to get blackout drunk and was involved with the first post-flood depravity that caused an entire people group and land area to be cursed by God. (Genesis, chapters 5-10)
Now, I am not Abraham, either. Hoping to get a blessing, Abraham forced his beautiful wife Sarah to tell the local king that she was his sister and not his wife – twice. The result of this sin was that the local king ended up taking Sarah for his wife – twice (once in the most sexual way possible). Keep in mind this is after the Lord directly promised that He would protect Abraham AND cause his barren wife to become pregnant in her old age AND that his ancestors would be as numerous as the stars AND that they would inherit the promised land. Abraham finally figured it out and trusted the Lord – so much so that he was credited with righteousness and was even willing to sacrifice his only son, Isaac, to God, knowing that God would deliver on his promises. (Genesis, chapters 12 – 22)
Now, I am not like these men of old – in good or bad ways. I am not robbing liquor stores or cursing the neighboring towns or parenting all of humanity or even fully trusting that the Lord will deliver on all of His promises, but I am stuck in this same sin/repent/repeat cycle – just like everyone else. Why do I say that everyone is stuck in this cycle? Because every non-Messianic person in the Bible, to varying degrees exhibits it. It is so prevalent in our lives that the Apostle Paul spends the book of Romans walking Bible readers through this cycle and most importantly, what to do about it.
In Romans, chapters 1 and 3, Paul puts forth the case that no one is righteous. In chapter 1 he goes deep on the sinfulness and unfaithfulness of all of humanity. It’s a horribly ugly picture. The prosecution’s case against humanity sums up the charges as follows:
28 Since they thought it foolish to acknowledge God, He abandoned them to their foolish thinking and let them do things that should never be done. 29 Their lives became full of every kind of wickedness, sin, greed, hate, envy, murder, quarreling, deception, malicious behavior, and gossip. 30 They are backstabbers, haters of God, insolent, proud, and boastful. They invent new ways of sinning, and they disobey their parents. 31 They refuse to understand, break their promises, are heartless, and have no mercy. 32 They know God’s justice requires that those who do these things deserve to die, yet they do them anyway. Worse yet, they encourage others to do them, too.
– Romans 1:28-32
It’s a pretty long and grave indictment, but so is the length and gravity of our sin and deceit against a continuously faithful and loving God.
So, what are we to do with the fact that we are born sinners? Paul continues throughout Romans to lay out an absolutely incredible response to this question. We could spend time looking at every single verse – his case is that good.
I am not going to do that now, though, this post is long enough already. But, in the next post I will provide a brief step-by-step summarization of Paul’s greatest work to remind myself and others so that we may become “an acceptable offering to God, made holy by the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:16)
The book of Romans is something Christians need to understand and it can be used as a process by which we all can begin to start to break this sin, repent, repeat cycle.