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20 1-18 Why Do We Struggle With The Same Sins

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                                                  liberty bible church          1/20/08 P.M.

By Tom Zobrist

“Why do we struggle with the same sins?”

The Cause and Cure of Besetting Sins

Genesis 20:1-18


Illus. of “Don’t Let Them Get Away” Like a loving parent that would never abandon their child, so it is with besetting sins. They just won’t leave us alone. No matter how hard we try, we just can’t seem to shake them. When we think of these types of sins, most often we think of the big ones… alcohol or drugs, smoking, etc. But, these aren’t the sins that bog most Christians down. The majority of believers struggle more with Prov. 6:16-19; Gal. 5:19-21; 2 Tim. 3:1-7. How can we overcome the little, hidden, besetting sins that enslave us, that we hate, but that it is so hard to over come?

OPEN to passage.                                       


Prop. In this passage, we see a patriarch deal with the same old sin and the ramifications that follow and then see him overcome.    

Open in PRAYER.

PREVIEW the passage. Sodom and Gomorrah have been destroyed. Abraham and Lot are more distant now than they have ever been and Abraham may not even know if Lot is alive or not. So, with God’s promise of a son still in the offing, Abraham moves on. He relocates in the Promised Land and with that relocation comes a recurring problem. What do you do with a beautiful wife in a culture where pagans commonly build their harems with women whose husbands had been conquered? What does Abraham do? The same thing he did in Egypt.

  i. Abraham courts sin vs. 1-7

Illus. of white lies. Def.- A harmless lie; a lie not intended to harm, but told in order to avoid distress or embarrassment. Is there such a thing as a “harmless lie?” Abraham thought so and had repeated this one before.

a. Abraham tells a little white lie    

V 1      1. Abraham moves to the south about 50 miles from Hebron, about 12 miles south of Gaza.

V 2      2. Abraham repeats the same sin that he had in Egypt back in chapter 12. Cf. 12:10-13 Abraham’s sinfulness and weak faith lead to that problem and God preserved Sarah’s purity then and He would do it again. But it does say something about a person when God has to keep delivering them from the same sin over and over again. Abraham repeats the sin here. It’s interesting to note that his son Isaac will do the same thing when we get to chapter 26 with another Abimelech. We’ll see that later. But, often we do see sins repeated in families. It is not genetic. It is spiritual and habitual in nature. Anyway…

b. God protects Sarah again

V 3      1. This would be a nightmare of nightmares. When God tells you are a dead man, it’s usually over. But God’s grace and mercy are evident here. You also see the dreadful ramifications for adultery. “a man’s wife” is literally, “married to a husband.” God is serious about this sin that our world has become very flippant with. Under the law, it was disciplined with death. Under grace, it can be forgiven. But, God is very serious about our purity and protecting it.

V 4      2. Fortunately, God had kept Abimelech from committing this act of sin. He appeals to God’s righteousness, much as Abraham had done for Sodom. Already he had suffered. Cf. v 17-18

V 5      3. He appealed to God again for his innocence. He really didn’t know. So God communicates with him again.

V 6      4. God kept him from committing this act that would have destroyed him and would have put God’s promise to Abraham in jeopardy. Had Sarah’s purity been compromised, the promise may have been in jeopardy, since her marriage to Abraham would have been over. The promise was that Abraham and Sarah produce a Godly seed. They had to stay married. We see here how God opens and closes wombs and how much control he has over the actions of men. Mere mortals cannot thwart the plans and promises of God.

V 7a     5. This is the first time “prophet” is used in the Bible. Abraham was a spokesman for God. He could intervene for Abimelech and he would be saved.

V 7b    6. If not, he would die and so would all his family and servants. He needed the prayers of Abraham to be saved from certain death. This is not for eternal salvation, but to be saved from physical death because of the sin of adultery, which he would surely commit if Sarah is not returned.

Trans. ABRAHAM COURTS SIN and causes others to suffer. But, God bales him out of the same predicament he was in in Egypt. But, he doesn’t even know it yet. Next we see…

 ii. Abraham confronted for sin vs. 8-13

Illus. of Daniel Webster once said, “My greatest thought is my accountability to God.” No doubt, that was the thought of Abimelech and his household here in verse 8.

 a. Abimelech confronts Abraham

V 8      1. He recounts the dreams and the conversation with God. They had all been experiencing the barrenness of God’s judgment and so no doubt believed these words and were afraid that death would come to them all.

V 9      2. Abraham is sternly rebuked. It’s sad that the this pagan had more conviction about the sin than Abraham did.

V 10    3. “What were you thinking?” Why would Abraham do such a thing.

b. Abraham’s defense

V 11    1. A similar fear that he had in Egypt. He knew the promises of God. He knew the righteousness of God. He knew the power of God. Yet, he didn’t believe that he could protect him and fulfill His promise for Abraham and Sarah to have a son. Illus. of how all of us demonstrate a similar weakness when we practice besetting sins.

 V 12   2. He splits hairs here to try and not look so deceitful. The fact is… wife trumps half-sister every time.

V 13    3. It almost looks like he blames God for his wandering and having to make this decision. But, this defense does not hold water. There is a cost for sin and Abimelech was afraid that he would have to pay for this one. Fortunately, God protected him.

Trans. ABRAHAM COURTS SIN and causes others to suffer and then ABRAHAM IS CONFRONTED FOR THAT SIN. So, he must act.

iii. Abraham clears up the sin vs. 14-18

Illus. of I used to use Clearasil and it never really worked. I had to have them acne cut out. Here, Abraham clears up the sin by cutting it out. Drastic changes are made.

A.     Abimelech’s acts of repentance

V 14    1. Prov. 6:30-35 Why should Abraham accept recompense? Because the sin had not been committed and Abimelech repented to God and to Abraham and to Sarah.

V 15    2. Abimelech offers Abraham homesteading rights, even though Abraham already had it promised to him by God. He doesn’t appear to mention that.

V 16    3. “rebuked” means justified, so that everyone would know that she was still pure. No adultery had been committed and he took full responsibility for even compromising her reputation. Notice he calls Abraham her “brother” here, since that’s how she referred to him.

b. abraham’s intercession and restoration

V 17a   1. This is what God said needed and would happen if Abimelech did the right thing. God knew that if Abraham was confronted, he would do what is right; and he did.   

V 17b- 2. God took away the discipline that He had brought on Abimelech’s house. This was the sign that He was

        18            serious and death would come if he disobeyed. In verse 18, Sarah is Abraham’s wife, not sister.


ABRAHAM COURTS SIN, a sin he had struggled with before. ABRAHAM IS CONFRONTED FOR THAT SIN and ABRAHAM CLEARS UP THAT SIN. What can we learn here to help us with besetting sins?

1.      Only God can help us overcome besetting sins. GOSPEL God is gracious and merciful. He was to both Abraham and Abimelech.

2.      Accountability is a key element of overcoming besetting sins. Someone you trust to pray for you and ask the hard questions.

3.      Acts of repentance must be evident. Cf. 2 Cor. 7:8-11 Abimelech had them.

Illus. of “Don’t Go Too Far.”  

To overcome besetting sins, we’ve got to hate them. We can’t just want them gone when it is convenient. We must love God more than we love the sin. When we do, we will stop committing the same sins over and over again and we will be able to serve God as always wanted.



                                                  liberty bible church          1/20/08 P.M.

By Tom Zobrist

“Why do we struggle with the same sins?”

The Cause and Cure of Besetting Sins

Genesis 20:1-18


The majority of believers struggle more with Prov. 6:16-19; Gal. 5:19-21; 2 Tim. 3:1-7. How can we overcome the little, hidden, besetting sins that enslave us, that we hate, but that it is so hard to over come?

  i. Abraham _____________________________________ sin vs. 1-7

a. Abraham tells a little __________________________ ___________________   

            Cf. Gen. 12:10-13

b. God __________________________________ Sarah again

 ii. Abraham ________________________________________________ sin vs. 8-13

a. Abimelech __________________________________ Abraham

b. Abraham’s defense

iii. Abraham ________________________________________________ sin vs. 14-18

A.     Abimelech’s acts of _________________________________________

Cf. Prov. 6:30-35

b. abraham’s _____________________________ and _____________________________


What can we learn here to help us with besetting sins?




Cf. 2 Cor. 7:8-11



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