Tonight is devoted to answering pre-submitted questions. If you
would like to have your questions answered, feel free to submit
them in writing in the appropriate box in the foyer outside of my
office or via e-mail. I do not have all the answers, however,
Godís word does. If I say anything that is not supported by
Godís word or if you believe I am misrepresenting the scriptures
in any way, let me know. I would love to study Godís word with
you at any time. Our questions tonight, though submitted by
different people all deal with temptation and sin.
Does each and every person sin daily?
This is actually a difficult question. Because there is no
biblical answer for it. The scripture never explains how often the
average person sins. Further, since each person is different, the
Bible certainly does not tell us how often each and every person
sins. What the Bible does clearly tell us is that each and every
person has sinned (Romans
Certainly, since Christianity is a growth process of
submitting ourselves to God as slaves of righteousness and
increasing our virtue and self-control (Romans
6:5-18; II Peter 1:5-8), we ought to be sinning less today
than we did when we became Christians. Further, since God provides
a way of escape from every sin (I
Corinthians 10:13), one would think a maturing Christian
ought to be able to make it through at least one day taking
Godís ways of escape.
At the same time I
John 1:8 demonstrates that any of us who might try to
claim we do not sin are liars. Of course, that passage does not
give any time constraints. It does not say anyone who claims they
did not sin within the last minute, last hour, last day or last
week is a liar.
Here is what we know about every person. We all have
sinned. We all sin. However, I do not have any idea how often any
of us sin. I know that each of us is supposed to grow in our
ability to overcome the tempter and therefore sin less. Thus, none
of us is allowed to say, ďOh well, we all sin every day, my sin
today did not matterĒ (Romans
6:23). At the same time, if we can really and truthfully
look at a period of time in which we did not sin, we have not done
anything amazing, we have only done what we should have been doing
all along (Luke
What is the limit of Satanís knowledge and ability to
tempt us? Does he know what is in our minds and use it against us?
Once again, this question is a difficult one to answer,
because God has chosen not to reveal to us the extent of Satanís
knowledge about us individually. While Satan is a fully spiritual
6:11-12), we can take comfort that Satan is not a divine
one. Whatever Satan was created to be, evidently he thought too
much of himself and fell into sin (I
Timothy 3:6). What we learn from this is Satan is limited.
However, at the same time, I need to keep in mind that he is not a
man and does not have the exact same limitations as men do.
Therefore I cannot necessarily apply I
Corinthians 2:11 to Satan.
Here is what we know about Satanís power. Satan certainly
does know how to tempt us. He certainly does know how to tempt
each of us effectively (Romans
3:23). Further, Satan is aggressive with his temptation.
He is like a roaring lion, who hopes to devour us (I
However, he can only do what God will allow as demonstrated
by his attack on Job in Job
1:12; 2:6. Gratefully, we know God will not allow him to
tempt us beyond what we are able to withstand (I
Corinthians 10:13). This is about all I can say to answer
How do we get forgiveness for sins of which we are unaware
or have forgotten?
The first key we must understand is that Christians are
saved by the blood of Christ, not by perfect confession of sins (I
Peter 3:18; Ephesians 2:5, 8-9). We will not stand before
God on Judgment Day and find out that we are not going to ďmake
the cutĒ because there was a sin somewhere that we forgot to
specifically mention in prayer. I believe we can take some comfort
from the example of the tax collector in Luke
18:13-14. He prayed, ďGod, be merciful to me the
sinner.Ē Jesus said he went away justified, even without
specifically listing all of his sins.
As we consider the two kinds of sins in this question, we
must ask how we can commit sins of which we are unaware. We do so
through ignorance. How will we be forgiven for these sins?
According to II
Peter 1:5-8, we must grow in faith, knowledge and virtue.
As we grow in Christ, we will learn more and more about what is
sinful and what is not. As we learn, we repent. As we repent, we
are forgiven. Considering this, we can take great comfort that God
does not want us to go to hell. II
Peter 3:9 says God is patient giving us all time to come
to repentance. God is not up in heaven waiting for us to slip into
some sin of ignorance so He can blast us into oblivion. He is
patient, guiding us by His word that we may learn how to overcome
Regarding the issue of a forgotten sin, consider this. If
somewhere along the line you committed a particular sin that you
have forgotten, you are clearly not continuing in some habit of
that sin. That being the case, while you may not have consciously
addressed every particular sin you committed, your general
knowledge of sin and repentance caused you to change and turn from
the sin. For instance, as a Christian you have learned that foul
language is a sin (Ephesians
4:29). You may not remember every case of foul language
you have ever used. In fact, if you had a bad habit of it at some
time, you may not have even noticed every case in which you used
foul language. However, as a Christian you have changed your
language. You have repented of the sin and turned from it. God
does not require a perfect accounting of every time you ever spoke
improperly. What He requires is an understanding that we are
sinners and then changing to come in line with His word. You have
done that, even if you forgot a particular situation and never
mentioned it specifically.
To what extent, if any, is restitution a part of
Clearly, under the Old Law, restitution was a part of
repentance. Consider one example in Numbers
5:6-7. The sinner was not only to offer his sacrifice, but
he was to make restitution. Not only was he to make restitution,
he was to give back 20% more. David indicated that restitution was
the natural way to deal with sin in II
Samuel 12:6. Additionally, note Proverbs
6:30-31. A thief was expected to make restitution when he
was discovered. However, Proverbs
6:32-35 demonstrated that there are some sins for which
restitution is impossible.
When we move into the New Testament, the great example of
Zacchaeus stands out. In Luke
19:8-9, Zacchaeus repented of his dishonesty in collecting
taxes. As part of his repentance, he made restitution, but not
just any restitution, he gave back fourfold.
However, have you noticed that restitution was always an
issue of man dealing with men regarding our sins against one
another? If we have committed some sin against someone which we
can set aright, repentance obligates us to restore the situation
to its rightful place to the extent that we can. Yet, it is not
exactly an obligation. If we have really rethought what we did and
realized how wrong it is, we will naturally want to set it aright.
Really this is just common sense. If I stole your car and then
repented, I would not continue driving your car, but give it back
to you. However, regarding sin and our relationship with God,
there is no way for us to make restitution. That is the reason
Jesus died. Our sins separated us from God (Isaiah
59:1-2) and placed us under the sentence of death (Ezekiel
18:20). The only way to restore that situation is through
our punishment by death. Of course, that is what we want to avoid.
Gratefully, God provided the restitution for our sins through
Jesusí death (I
While we cannot make repayment and restitution, we must
understand that repentance does mean making a change. For
4:28 says that the one who stole must steal no more.
However, it is not enough to stop stealing, he must also become a
laborer who gives to others to help them in their needs.
I hope these answers were helpful. Again, if you believe in
any way I have misrepresented Godís word regarding any of these
answers, feel free to talk to me about it. Letís study Godís
word together. If you have a question you would like answered,
fill out the question sheet and place it in the proper box outside
to God in the church by Christ Jesus
Church of Christ