Everyone sins, people know that they sin, they feel regret over having done so, and they seek forgiveness for their wrongdoing.
They seek, and they find.
Then, these same people go on with their lives, and they proceed to commit the same sin which they had first sought forgiveness for.
So they wonder if God might forgive them.
God will forgive you if you keep committing th same sin, but you must as for forgiveness. As scripture states, “Seek and ye shall find.” However, this search must be sincere, and a person who repeatedly sins lacks sincerity. Moreover, a sin is worse the second time than the first.
The question of God’s forgiveness toward repeated sins has been asked many times by many Christians over the last 2,000 years.
Yet people tend to presume that the answer has not yet been provided.
Below, we address the answer that one the the Church Fathers, Tertullian, provided when he confronted the question. It can be trusted as an authoritative and informed source.
On Repentance (Tertullian)
Many of the questions which often plague modern Christians were resolved centuries ago by Church Fathers who approached their religion much more seriously and thoughtfully than Christians do today. So we have answers to this question which come from reliable sources.
Of course, Protestants hate to hold themselves accountable to anything aside form their own interpretations of their handful of cherry-picked verses, so they like to reject these answers. This rejection effectively destroys all religious knowledge which has been constructed as a result of thinking abut the words in the Bible.
The conclusions which are drawn from thought about the Bible’s contents are not, themselves, in the Bible, so Protestants reject these as they like and replace them with their own self-serving opinions.
So the teachings of the Church Fathers are routinely urinated on.
The Protestant rejection of thought is a great shame, because our titular question has been soundly addressed by the Church Father Tertullian, aka, the Father of Western Theology, and his response is quite unambiguous.
It’s also stern and unpleasant to accept. Therefore, the common Protestant will tend to reject answers of this form in favor of something that feels more comfortable to say. The ones who do this cannot be called Christian, for they value comfort over truth and lie on that account.
Yet nobody may knowingly reject the truth and be a Christian, for Christ clearly told Pilate, “I am the Truth.”
What follows is Tertullian’s response to the question.
Chapter 5. Sin Never to Be Returned to After Repentance.
If one sins and asks forgiveness, receives it and then commits the sin again, then their guilt is greater in the second instance than in the first. For in the first case, they did had not yet received grace, but in the second case, they have.
Therefore, the second sin is greater because it includes a rejection of grace which was not present in the first instant.
Repentance is canceled by repeated sin
For what I say is this, that the repentance which, being shown us and commanded us through God’s grace, recalls us to grace with the Lord, when once learned and undertaken by us ought never afterward to be cancelled by repetition of sin.
Tertullian begins his writing by emphasizing the need to avoid sin especially after forgiveness has been extended.
We know, of course, that sin is to be disliked as a general rule.
We also know that to sin after receiving forgiveness for that sin is all-too heinous.
Yet the latter knowledge tends to exist only as a feeling, and people struggle to clearly articulate why this happens to be the case.
So the reader may find this list useful for understanding why sin must be avoided after forgiveness has been extended.
- Forgiveness is a gift, and to sin after receiving it is to throw it away. Yet gifts given out of love are to be valued.
- The one who sins after receiving forgiveness teaches others that forgiveness should not be extended to him again, for the sinner ignores it.
- A person who sins after being forgiven will be more likely to reject forgiveness in the future. They have begun to develop a habit of ingratitude.
- Those who observe a person sinning after receiving forgiveness will become disposed to doing the same, for people tend to copy what those around them are doing. So the problem of rejecting forgiveness begins to spread like a contagious disease.
You don’t get to say, “I didn’t know it was wrong!”
No pretext of ignorance now remains to plead on your behalf; in that, after acknowledging the Lord, and accepting His precepts — in short, after engaging in repentance of (past) sins— you again betake yourself to sins. Thus, in as far as you are removed from ignorance, in so far are you cemented to contumacy.
For if the ground on which you had repented of having sinned was that you had begun to fear the Lord, why have you preferred to rescind what you did for fear’s sake, except because you have ceased to fear?
How many times has the following excuse been given?
“Don’t blame me! I didn’t know what I was doing!”
I don’t know the answer to that question, but I do know that the number is far greater than it ought to be.
I am not the first person to notice this, and the reader will certainly recognize the truth in the above statement, for all people have undoubtedly done this at some point in their lives.
Christians are not to tell this excuse.
The Faithful, having been informed of the way the proper way of being through the example set by Christ, are meant to avoid all excuses for misbehavior, for Christ Himself never once told an excuse for wrongdoing of His own or on the part of anyone else.
What (is) Contumacy!(?)
For there is no other thing but contumacy which subverts fear.
Contumacy (n): a stubborn refusal to comply with an authority
I include this section to state the following:
Many ancient works were translated by Englishmen during the 18th and 19th centuries.
These translations are therefore filled with language that antiquated more than a century ago.
So reading them is often difficult, because a language gap exists not only between the members of different countries and cultures, but also of different time periods.
It is for this reason that we find obscure words such as contumacy within English translation.
In another century, these too will be indecipherable to the people who speak what will be called English.
To break the law after learning it is to show contempt for God
Since there is no exception which defends from liability to penalty even such as are ignorant of the Lord — because ignorance of God, openly as He is set before men, and comprehensible as He is even on the score of His heavenly benefits, is not possible — how perilous is it for Him to be despised when known?
Now, that man does despise Him, who, after attaining by His help to an understanding of things good and evil, often an affront to his own understanding — that is, to God’s gift — by resuming what he understands ought to be shunned, and what he has already shunned: he rejects the Giver in abandoning the gift; he denies the Benefactor in not honoring the benefit.
How can he be pleasing to Him, whose gift is displeasing to himself?
To reject the forgiveness which God has extended by sinning once more is a type of atheism.
If you believe that what is called sin truly is sin, and if you believe that forgiveness has been given, and if you believe that the forgiveness has been extended by the Almighty, then to reject it is to deny God. Yet nobody who knows of who God is and what He is capable of can affirm His existence, acknowledge His commandments, and actively go against Him.
This is because punishments for deviation and the rewards for obedience are both great enough, i.e., infinite, that a person who believes in them will not find any reason to deviate.
Good is good for the do-gooder, and he shows his ingratitude when he behaves badly
Thus he is shown to be not only contumacious toward the Lord, but likewise ungrateful. Besides, that man commits no light sin against the Lord, who, after he had by repentance renounced His rival the devil, and had under this appellation subjected him to the Lord, again upraises him by his own return (to the enemy), and makes himself a ground of exultation to him; so that the Evil One, with his prey recovered, rejoices anew against the Lord. Does he not — what is perilous even to say, but must be put forward with a view to edification — place the devil before the Lord?
People often struggle to discern between (1) things that are good for them, (2) things that feel good, and (3) things that are convenient.
The good for a person is that which allows them to exist and to improve over time, yet hedonism and utilitarianism are both at odds with one’s continued existence.
Hedonism destroys oneself because it compels one to search for pleasures which are always transient and that fade in intensity. This constant loss of stimulation then moves the pleasure-seeker int a ravenous state in whish it constantly looks for a newer and stronger feeling; this is analogous to a how a drug addict always strives to increase their dosage of whatever they might be on.
Meanwhile, the utilitarian ethic is inadequate, because it lacks a means for directing itself. A utilitarian values things according to their usefulness. Yet a thing is only useful in relation to something else, i.e. a car is useful for transportation, but it is useless for brushing one’s teeth. Therefore, a utilitarian ethic is always subordinate to something else, and for most people, that thing is their own hedonism.
To choose evil is to choose Satan
For he seems to have made the comparison who has known each; and to have judicially pronounced him to be the better whose (servant) he has preferred again to be.
Thus he who, through repentance for sins, had begun to make satisfaction to the Lord, will, through another repentance of his repentance, make satisfaction to the devil, and will be the more hateful to God in proportion as he will be the more acceptable to His rival.
A person may choose to act in a way that advances the interests of god, ro he may act in a way that advances the interests of Satan. A third option does not exist.
To act in accord with God is to assist in His creative and gathering capacities. To act in accord with Satan is to destroy these.
A person who rejects God’s grace and forgiveness by sinning repeatedly cannot serve God, so they must be a servant of Satan. The points addressed above explain why this must be the case.
Works are necessary but not sufficient
But some say that God is satisfied if He be looked up to with the heart and the mind, even if this be not done in outward act, and that thus they sin without damage to their fear and their faith.
For most of the history of Christianity, the idea that a person could could act in an utterly un-Christlike manner and still somehow be considered a Christian was a fringe idea subject to ridicule.
Yet in the world the Protestants have made, works have largely been divorced form the Christian life.
Consequently, hordes of people call themselves Christians, yet they never say or do anything which differentiates themselves form anyone else.
The rejection of the idea that faith does requires works has degraded the meaning of the word Christian to a mere statement.
“I say that I’m Christian. Therefore, I’m Christian. You don’t know what’s in my heart!”
Some musings on the Fear of God
That is, that they violate wedlock without damage to their chastity; they mingle poison for their parent without damage to their filial duty!
Thus, then, they will themselves withal be thrust down into hell without damage to their pardon, while they sin without damage to their fear!
Here is a primary example of perversity: they sin, because they fear!
I suppose, if they feared not, they would not sin!
One of the great tragedies which has befallen modern Christianity is its loss of sight on what the point of Christianity is.
Many people belief that the point of Christianity is to go to Heaven and to avoid Hell. It is for this reason that so many are obsessed with talking about their salvation and how they might obtain it.
They do not understand that the obsession with a reward is proof of one’s poor character.
If a thing is good, then you should pursue that thing because it si good. If a thing is bad, then you should avoid it because it is bad.
God is meant to be followed because God is inherently good. The presence or absence of a reward for doing so is irrelevant.
Modern Christians do not understand this. Their faith is entirely selfish and, therefore, not Christian at all. So they obsess with how Christianity might benefit them, and they leave whenever it becomes inconvenient.
This is why the church-hopping habit arose within the Protestant world.
So the belief in and fear of Hell are both necessary for keeping these deviants in line. the common person cannot be trusted to behave decently without being coerced by fear, for his moral reasoning and integrity are both in short supply.
The Soul of Western Theology
Let him, therefore, who would not have God offended not revere Him at all, if fear is the plea for offending.
But these dispositions have been wont to sprout from the seed of hypocrites, whose friendship with the devil is indivisible, whose repentance never faithful.
Here, Tertullian hints at a point which I will go ahead and state outright.
The people who believe in God and who feign obedience to Him solely so that they may avoid Hell are hypocrites. They are motivated by something other than a love for God, and this other is always an influence of a darker being.