Humanity, from the beginning of time, is stuck in a Sin, Repent, Repeat cycle. 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 also recognize this Sin, Repent, Repeat cycle in my own life – Maybe you see it in yours.
In Romans, chapters 1 and 3, Paul puts forth the case that no one in the world is righteous. It’s a horribly ugly picture. The prosecution 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 (starting in chapter 3) 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 here – there are many wonderful devotionals and books that can lead you through Romans more in depth.
What I offer is a brief step-by-step summarization of the process to rid your life of sin followed by the specific references from Paul’s best Letter. I am no Paul, but I write this as Paul did – to remind myself and others that we may become “an acceptable offering to God, made holy by the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:14-16). I pray that my summarization fits with Paul’s intent. Let’s dig in.
Have Faith – SStart by imitating Abraham’s Faith (Genesis 15) and believe in God.
20 Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God. 21 He was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever he promises. 22 And because of Abraham’s faith, God counted him as righteous. 23 And when God counted him as righteous, it wasn’t just for Abraham’s benefit. It was recorded 24 for our benefit, too, assuring us that God will also count us as righteous if we believe in him, the one who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. 25 He was handed over to die because of our sins, and he was raised to life to make us right with God.
– Romans 4:20-25
Trust and Have Peace and Joy – Trust in the deliverance from our sin because of what Jesus Christ did for us.
1 Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. 2 Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.
– Romans 5:1-2
Rejoice in our Hope – Know that the Holy Spirit is with us when we are struggling through sin.
3 We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. 4 And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. 5 And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.
– Romans 5:3-5
Acknowledge your Sin and God’s Grace – Sin entered the world and we STILL participate in it; Grace entered the world through Christ and we can receive it.
20 God’s law was given so that all people could see how sinful they were. But as people sinned more and more, God’s wonderful grace became more abundant. 21 So just as sin ruled over all people and brought them to death, now God’s wonderful grace rules instead, giving us right standing with God and resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
– Romans 5:20-21
Sin’s Power Over us is Broken – We used to be powerless to stop sinning; That is no longer the case.
1 Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace? 2 Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it?
– Romans 6:1-2
6 We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin.
– Romans 6:6
Break the Sin, Repent, Repeat Cycle – Choose to no longer be a slave to sin, but to live in God’s righteousness.
15 Well then, since God’s grace has set us free from the law, does that mean we can go on sinning? Of course not! 16 Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey? You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living. 17 Thank God! Once you were slaves of sin, but now you wholeheartedly obey this teaching we have given you. 18 Now you are free from your slavery to sin, and you have become slaves to righteous living.
– Romans 6:15-18
Never Forget – Do not turn back, because if you do, the result is terminal, but perseverance is eternal.
23 the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.
– Romans 6:23
So, that is a vastly simplified version of Paul’s best work. I could have added many more headings and put entire chapters under each, but I tried to just grab the essentials. Go back and read through Romans and I know you will see even more than I have written. The Hebrew writer does a great job of summarizing even more than I did.
1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. 2 We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. .
– Hebrews 12:1-2