It’s happened again. I’ve lost my temper, made a selfish choice that hurt someone else and let my eyes linger over something that brings corruption to the mind and the heart. When these things take place, does God give second chances?
It may sound counterintuitive, but I believe the answer to that question is no – and that this is a good thing! Now, we can all rest assured that God does provide forgiveness of sins for everyone who repents and places their faith in Christ. However, to speak of this in terms of “second chances” arguably understates the weight of our sin and, even more significantly, the richness of God’s grace.
When someone offers another person a second chance, it usually implies that they are willing to overlook a past mistake and that future loyalty will merit approval and reciprocated loyalty from the person offering the second chance. But our sin is not something that God overlooks or even can overlook. He is the holy one who cannot live in lasting fellowship with wickedness (Ps. 130:3; Hab. 1:13; Rev. 21:27). Furthermore, our future loyalty is sure to be imperfect and, indeed, cannot make up for our past sins. Accordingly, Paul writes in Romans 3 that there is none who does what is good and none who will be justified – declared righteous in God’s sight – by following the requirements of God’s law. This is why, as Paul says, God set forth Christ on the cross to bear the punishment of the sins of his people (Rom. 3:25-26).
What is more, in His abundant grace, God does not hang our acceptance with Him on our future good works. He simply provides mercy and forgiveness to all who trust in Christ as their Savior and confess and repent of their sin. He does not insist on making us promise that we will be perfect going forward. To be clear, He does call us to holiness – and growth in holiness is necessary evidence of our real faith in Christ.
Yet whenever we fail to live in holiness and love toward God and neighbor, God does not cut us off and sever his gracious relationship to us. Our justification remains in place, and God simply calls us back to repentance and further growth in godliness. In His rich grace, then, God does not offer us a cheap “second chance.” Instead, He drives home the weight of our sin on the cross and then He accepts us on the basis of what Christ has done and by our receiving of Christ in faith. He gives us ongoing assurance of salvation in Christ and a way forward to gradually keep maturing in Christ and producing fruit that shows how he is changing us – and that is good news!
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