How (Not) To Overcome Sin

Not long ago, I had a theological conversation with one of my sons. We ended up talking about sin.

Out of nowhere he declared, “I believe you can so much that God will not let you into heaven.”

“Can you sin so much that God will stop loving you?” I asked.

“No. God will never stop loving you, but you can definitely sin enough that he’ll say you can’t come into heaven.” The matter-of-fact, God doesn’t make exceptions tone in which he said this was alarming.

“How much do you have to sin in order to kept out of heaven?” I asked.

“It depends,” he said. “Different sins have different point values.”

He went on to describe how some sins aren’t very bad and only worth one point. Other sins are really bad and worth up to 15 points. He had obviously given this some thought. Too much thought.

“How many points do you have to score on the sin-0-meter for God to decide you can’t come into heaven?” I asked.

He said, “That’s totally up to God. He gets to decide the point total.”

“So you live your whole life wondering if you’ve crossed the line and sinned too much?” I asked.

“That’s the way it works,” he said.

I recognized this as both a teachable moment and heartbreaking evidence he had paying about as much attention in church as I did growing up.

“What if because God loves us, he wants us to be in heaven with him, even though we’ve scored too many sin points?” I asked. “How can God overcome our sin so we can live with him forever?”

He thought for a moment, genuinely puzzled, and then gasped, “I TOTALLY FORGOT ABOUT JESUS AND WHY HE DIED ON THE CROSS!”

Isn’t this what happens when we become preoccupied with defining, counting, ranking and comparing different sins?

When sin dominates the conversation, we tend to forget about Jesus.

This is tragic because we don’t overcome sin by focusing on sin–mine, yours, ours or theirs.

We overcome sin by following Jesus.


  1. lene davis says:

    Wow Wade…you are truly amazing…i really REALLY liked that conversation…as an many times do I think about my little and others BIG sins…and wonder if there will be grading on a curve…etc. You nailed that one…thanks for passing that story on….you rock

  2. I heard this on your sermon podcast this week on the way home from work on Monday and just had to share it with our teens at our devo that night. It was such a simple example yet so true to how we think about sin and salvation sometimes.

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