Oh, Tara, Tara, Tara . . . how your posts speak to me. Sometimes you say the things I have long thought but for which I could never find the words. I love that about you!
There are many ways to hit this subject of forgiveness of habitual sin. Tara hits it head-on and very effectively. Of course she does! She uses the Scriptures and uses them accurately.
I find myself wanting to sit down with her and talk about this further. Or to dialogue about it with a circle of friends. Or even to have an online chat.
As I see the Scriptures, they (among other things in this area) stop the arguments of the people who are caught in habitual sin and think that no one should confront them at all.
We have probably all seen this scenario. Someone is comfortable with a sin, but is a good enough friend of ours that we feel genuinely called of God to sit down with her in private to tell her we don’t think that breaking God’s laws is going to end well.
The person offers an excuse instead of a repentant heart or summarily gives a general “apology.” But the sin goes right on. And now the person acts all touchy about anything further you say because “you forgave me for that sin already.”
Not quite. If a habitual liar is forgiven for one lie but keeps on lying, more intervention with that person is actually further evidence of your love for her and of God’s grace for her (to keep calling her from her stupor over her sin).
Of course, there is a limit to how many times we should intervene. My personal number is three times. I will forgive the person 70 x 7 times for the same action, but after I have clearly felt the Lord call me to challenge the person to give up the sinful activity three times, I have never, ever felt the call to say something a fourth time. Sometimes people are “dug in” with a besetting sin and nothing we are going to say is going to break through. You keep loving, but you stop confronting . . .
We stop confronting because we run the risk of making their problem our problem, of creating codependency, of making ourselves an idol in that person’s life (because only God can deal with her sin, even if He uses us here and there with a prophetic call).
This is the way the Scriptures are worked out practically in my own life. May not be the same for everyone.
Oh, and remember that it is only intervention guided by the Holy Spirit if you are talking about a real sin that is listed in the Bible (lying, stealing, sexual immorality, etc.). We can’t make up sins, then “confront” people about them, like going to a person habitually if she walks by us without saying “hi” (she might be nearsighted, for all we know). That kind of thing indicates more about our tendency to be easily offended than it does about the other person. And we need to stop that!
Let’s live in God’s grace. abundantly bestowed on us.