Can someone truly repent, but still be tempted?

Say you’ve had one habit for several years, but then you realize that it’s wrong, and decide to change. Even if you repent, and with God’s help, strive to turn from that, will it still be a temptation at times?

Your question brings to mind Psalm 19:13 “Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me! Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression.” Let me point out some key thoughts from this passage.

Your servant: This person is a believer, a follower of God. This person has been saved already, and is striving to stay close to God in all things.

Keep back: This person is asking God’s help in this matter. This person knows that only through God’s strength can his petition be met.

Presumptuous sins: ‘assuming sins’. These are not surprise sins or unknown sins, those sins are covered in verse 12. These are sins that this person assumes that he will constantly commit. These are habitual sins that this person struggles with. These are sins that this believer is tempted with. Just like your question.

Let them not have dominion over me! These sins that easily entrap us have a power over us that can only be beaten through the power of God. They have the ability to have dominion (over ‘total control’) over us, even as repenting believers.

So… what is the answer to your question? YES! Yes, a Christian who has a habitual sin that they have repented from can still fall into temptation over that sin. Repentance means to decide to obey God rather than our own desires, and to turn away from sin. That doesn’t mean that God immediately removes the desire all of the time. Sometimes He does, sometimes He doesn’t. It is totally up to Him and His knowledge of who we are and what we can handle. If God knows that we cannot give up a sin (that our faith in Him is too weak at this point, or our spiritual maturity is too small), He will take that particular desire away from us when we repent. If God knows that, through His strength we have faith enough to overcome the desire, then He leaves the desire there as a test for our faith. Do we really believe that life in obedience to God is better than even fulfilling our own desires?

So… if there is a sin that you constantly seem tempted into, praise God! He is showing you that your faith is strong enough to beat this temptation by focusing solely on Him and He has a victory over this sin waiting for you.

Remember 1 Corinthians 10:13 “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” The promise of God is that, if you are tempted, you are only being tempted with a temptation that you can handle through obedience to Christ, and He will show you the way to defeat it. We will never know all of the temptations that He has saved us from, those temptations that we aren’t ready yet to stand up to in His strength. But if He is allowing us to be tempted in some area, He knows we can handle it by trusting in Him.

So don’t give up! You can handle any temptation that God allows you to go through, through His power working in your life!

Pastor Jeff


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