Genesis 20: The Reality of Repeated Sin

History repeats itself. In Genesis 12, shortly after we are first introduced to the man Abram, we are told of a trip that he and Sarai took to Egypt seeking food. In order to protect his life, he told Sarai, who was a beautiful woman, to tell people she was his sister (since she was his half-sister, this was a half-truth). This plan turned around to bite him when the king’s eyes fell on her and he, thinking her to be the sister and not the wife of Abram, took her to be his own.

One would think Abram would have learned from this experience, but in Genesis 20, some 25 years later, the same thing happens again. To protect himself, they lead Abimelech, king of Gerer, to believe she was his solely his sister, and not his spouse. In both cases, not only did this sin show a lack of trust in God, but a lack of love for fellow man who suffered as a result of Abraham’s actions.

It is unfair, perhaps, to suggest that these two occasions imply Abraham had a big problem with the sin of lying. But, it does remind us of the reality of repeated sins—sins that seem to plague us or others.

It doesn’t take long in life for someone to disappoint, hurt or even sin against you. If you are part of a family, married, have children, or just interact with people from time to time, these things are going to happen. It is tempting to think when others sin against us repeatedly that they didn’t really mean it. But, this is not realistic, or fair. Maybe they were, but this is an area where they are weak. Our job is to forgive them (Matthew 18:22), even if their sin is repeated.

Don’t we hope and pray people are that understanding with us? Certainly it is when it comes to God. Have you not sinned, felt awful, asked for forgiveness, only a day, a week or month later to do the same thing? Don’t you want God to forgive you?

Finally, a personal note. It is discouraging to stumble with the same sin time after time, isn’t it? How often have you said, “Boy, I keep committing this same sin! I must not be serious about it.” Or, “I just can’t overcome this!” Repeated sin does not mean you are hopeless, it simply means you are weak and need strengthening. I’m not saying we should excuse ourselves of the severity of the sin, or make light of it in any way. I’ve heard people say, “This is my only vice.” Such an attitude in a child of God is unacceptable. The argument of Romans 6 is that sin in the life of the child of God is unacceptable. When we commit ourselves to purity, all sins are a danger to us and we must fight to overcome all sins—even those that show up as unwelcomed, but reoccuring guest. The good news is with God’s grace and our determination, those sins can eventually loose their hold on us. But, such a battle takes time, so don’t become discouraged.

Abraham was a man saved by faith, despite his weakness. What saved him was his love for God. The same things saves us today—so keep fighting and don’t give up!