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Touch Fouls

All sin and fall short of the glory of God

Romans 3:23

The Lord has been teaching me about my utter weakness in the presence of temptation. I have grown significantly in knowledge, but I have not grown in grace and feel that I actually don’t have any more power over sin than when I was first converted.

Hannah Smith, The Christian’s Secret of a Holy Life (Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997).

Is Hannah Smith alluding to the fact that she is committing a growing number of hideous sins?  I doubt it.  Most likely, she has recognized that despite her best effort to be a faithful Christian, she still sins on a regular basis.  Her sins, rather than hideous and blatant, would be best described as touch fouls in a basketball game.

Touch fouls are those minor bumps between basketball players, while technically a foul, do not affect the play of the game.  This is why commentators refer to them as play on fouls – no harm, no whistle, keep playing.

Every Christian, no matter how devout, commits touch foul sins daily.  If we remember Romans 3:23, then we should not be surprised by them.  Neither should they frighten us.

Charles Spurgeon wrote: “Once saved, sin will never get the upper hand so as to be absolute monarch of our nature.”  (Morning and Evening: Daily Readings, Peabody, MA, Hendrickson Publishers, 2006)

If we are committing flagrant fouls over and over, then we should be alarmed that sin, not God, has dominion over us.

Hannah Smith is correct, we do not have power over sin.  But God does.  This is why Christians pray, “Lead us not into temptation.”  We deal with sin by calling upon God’s power, rather than relying upon our own.

If Jesus reigns in your heart, your sin is on-the-ropes.


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