Have you ever heard of the 10-20-life laws here in Florida? Those laws are set up for repeat offenders who commit a crime using a gun. The first time you’re caught you get ten years in prison. The second time you get twenty. Third time – life in prison. And all the statistics show that they seem to be effective in our state.
What if God did that with us? What if God’s grace towards us was based on how often we committed the same sins over and over again? Well, two things would happen. First of all, God’s grace would then be determined by our works and it would no longer be God’s grace. Secondly, we’d all be in a heap of trouble. We all have an area in our lives that we struggle to live consistently faithful in. We’re all repeat offenders against God’s law in one way or another.
Maybe you struggle with: pride, lust, lying, gluttony, laziness, gossip, unforgiveness, hatefulness, etc. And it’s frustrating. We want victory over sin, not bondage.
Well, Abraham had some areas of his life that he was a repeat offender in. Mainly his propensity to try and lie his way out of a tight spot. And what we see in Genesis chapter twenty is the cycle of sin that Abraham found himself in again. And hopefully as we look at Abraham’s sin-cycle, we can learn how to avoid this same cycle of sin in our own lives as well.
Abraham repeats his past sins
[Read Genesis 20:1-2.]
Abraham, what are you doing? Don’t you remember what happened the last time you decided to go out of Canaan.
[Read Genesis 12:9-10.]
The first time Abraham went south to Egypt he lost his wife for a time to a heathen king but saved his own life by lying about who she was. (God bailed them out of that mess.)
Now twenty five years later Abraham is traveling south towards Egypt and again looses his wife to a heathen king. (But saves his own skin by lying about who she was.) And hence we have the first part of the cycle of sin – going towards your weakness.
Now we don’t know why Abraham was going south, but the last time he did that he fell into sin because he couldn’t stand up to the threat of his own life. Now he’s going right back to the scene of the crime where the temptation to lie would still there. And obviously he wasn’t ready to stand up to that temptation.
This is the best place to stop the sin—cycle before it even begins. Surround yourself with that which is good, not that which corrupts.
[Listening to immoral rock-n-roll music example.]
[Read Philippians 4:8.]
We need to make sure we don’t go towards influences that will tempt us into sin. Abraham, unfortunately, went to where the temptation was just too much for Him.
But even though he had this weakness, we see how:
God faithfully protects His people
[Read Genesis 20:3-7.]
God again comes in and cleans up the mess that Abraham had made. God had a plan for Abraham and Sarah and would make sure it happened. And we must remember here, God’s using sinners to accomplish His will on the earth. They’re bound to mess up at times. And even though they sinned against God, they were still His children whom He loved and whom He’d continue to protect.
God was also protecting the covenant to bring forth Israel by keeping Sarah sexually pure. There would be no doubt that Isaac to come would be from Abraham and Sarah’s union. There’d be no opportunity for someone to say that maybe Sarah was made pregnant by a heathen king or that the nation of Israel was born from adultery.
God protects His people.
[My child who runs into street example.]
But just because He protects us doesn’t mean that our sin doesn’t get addressed. So the next thing we see is:
Abraham gets rebuked by a heathen king, again
[Read Genesis 20:8-9.]
Just like Pharaoh did twenty five years earlier, Abimelech rebuked Abraham for his dishonesty. This friend of God is being rightly rebuked by a heathen, enemy of God.
And it’s especially ironic since God called Abraham his prophet up in verse seven. This is the first time that term is used in the Old Testament. And what’s a prophet? Basically, it’s someone who speaks to the people for God. But God’s spokesperson gets caught using his words dishonestly. How shameful.
Now here’s an opportunity to get out of that sin-cycle. When you get caught, when you get confronted, when you get rebuked, take that that occasion to get humble and focused on doing right. It doesn’t even have to be God doing the talking – like here. But if by any means you realize that you’re doing wrong, that’s a signal from Almighty God to repent and do right.