How many times can you be forgiven for the same sin?

I don’t know.  If you tell me how many times you’ve sinned that sin yet again then I could.

This is for my Christian friends who struggle with habitual sin.  They do the same wrong thing over and over.  Late in the night, fresh from sin, they lay awake on their beds to wonder… What’s wrong with me?  Why can’t I stop?  Why won’t I stop?  They doubt their own sincerity.  They doubt God will forgive them… for the same sin sinned yet again. Such doubts cool the heart and silence the prayer.  Here is a broken-spirit, whether they remain in a pew or not, that has begun a slow, but sure descent into inky darkness.  They descend NOT because of the sin, BUT because, in their heart of hearts, they believe they’ve used up all the grace there was for that one sin sinned yet again.  Broken-spirit, find healing here.

We ask…

Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him?  Up to seven times?

Which equals 7.  Which equals a record of wrongs.

He replies…

Seventy times seven.

Which equals 490. Which equals no record of wrongs.

In every lesson, book and sermon I’ve digested – the traditional and progressive agree- 490 equals infinity.  Even those who wage war over whether Revelation is literal or figurative are at peace with the sum derived from our Lord’s use of multiplication.  70×7 = 490 = forgive your brother (or sister) as many times as he (or she) sins against you.

Granted- the sin is not specified.  The question isn’t, how often shall my brother sin the same sin against me and I forgive him?  The sin is general.  Tis true, there are many unique ways to sin-in-general against one another.  But consider ONE person.  The SAME person who sins against you repeatedly in the way of 70×7.  Over and over and over and over and over and over and over, and one more over on the very day you die.  Don’t you think in all of those sins sinned against you that there will be at least one or two you recognize?  That nonetheless require your forgiveness…yet again… for the same sin sinned against you yet again?  Myself?  I believe so.

My friend, as many sins as exist to be sinned it only seems reasonable that in the scope of one human relationship-  brother to brother- sister to sister- or brother to sister for that matter- that sooner or later one or the other is going to run out of original sins with which to sin against one or the other.  At some point there will be re-runs and repeats while new, original sins are on hiatus.

If you’ve been alive long enough to have any kind of long-term relationship with another human (pets and prized possessions don’t count) you know this is true.  The sin for which we seek redemption today, from the one we’ve hurt,  is often the same one for which we sought redemption yesterday.  And they’re to forgive us.  For the same sin. 70×7.  Which equals infinity.  Everyone agrees.

This is THE Word of God.  So, think about it.  If Jesus expects- commands- demands you to forgive someone until infinity- no matter the sin- no matter how many times that sin is sinned- then HOW MUCH MORE IS HE WILLING TO DO THE SAME THING FOR YOU?    Answer the question.  Is this the one example He will not set?  Answer the question.  Is Jesus – who turned those black words into red letters with blood- such the hypocrite He holds you to a standard He Himself refuses to practice?  Answer the question.  I’m serious.  Answer the question.  Right now!

Your heart for God won’t die for lack of grace.  It will die for lack of grace.  The first is a gift offered by Jesus.  The second is a gift you won’t accept.  Please accept it.  As you know, your guilt and disbelief always lead nowhere good.  So, please know, His Mercy always leads somewhere good.  Who knows?  When you arrive at that good place  perhaps you’ll realize you don’t know the last time you sinned that sin yet again. I hope that’s true.  But if it’s not…70×7.   Do the math.

How many times can you be forgiven for the same sin?  I don’t know.  That’s between you and Jesus. Unless you want to talk about it.  Which is always a good idea.  Especially if you can’t do the math for yourself.  Let me know if I can help.  My calculator is ready.



  1. Great views on life! I like how you can really make sense of everything and then help us to make sense of it as well. Thanks Craig!!

    Jeremy, I like how you can encourage me. Thank you for being my friend.

  2. Craig, this rocks. i’ts the answer to my prayers. I mean what a coincidence it is that you write about this, when in a group of friends we were having a bit of a study on Matthews 18:21-22. It’s defnitely good to start out with this. Many new Christians can feel like grace is a “License to sin” We take advantage of it.

    again, this is I’d say heaven-sent. Answer to my questions.

    thanks! merci beacoup (epic fail at french here!)

    Thanks for saying Suzel. Sometimes I wonder if anyone else finds value in these thoughts. Your comment encourages me to keep writing. Thanks for blessing me.

  3. Thank you so much for your encouragement. I have been struggling with masturbation for over 20 years now…I don’t even want to do the math. I’ve had some very bad seasons where I would do it several times a day and feel so guilty afterward. Then I would have some good seasons where I wouldn’t do for over a month which is huge for me! I do it much less now but I still end up condemning myself for backsliding. I used to use God’s mercy as a license to do it as you mentioned above but I would still feel so guilty. For the past few months I’ve been studying Romans 8:5-8 which basically says that if I continue to live in my sinful nature the end result will be death instead of everlasting life. Oh, and what about John 14:23-24, 1 Kings 8:56-61, John 14:15, and the one that really convicts me…Matt. 7:21 Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord.” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. I just want clarity. My heart says that I need to completely stop masturbating. I always ask for forgiveness but am I truly repenting if I go back and do it again? I have other sins but this one seems to be the most difficult to shake. Please help me understand! Thank you and God Bless!

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