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Take this for your comfort: God will never damn you for that sin which in the whole course of your life you used all possible means to subdue and destroy….Though the devil forces sin upon you, if you use all possible means to resist it the Lord will hold you guiltless.

It is not sinless which marks a Christian, but rather that one does not make a constant practice of sin. Thomas Brooks develops this point by using the imagery of “making a trade” – that is, turning something into a primary occupation, the principle means of life. This is an important point: I once heard a man claim that he must be a Christian, because he was so imperfect.  While all Christians are imperfect, imperfection is not the principle mark of the Christian. Sinless perfection will not be had, but the true Christian must wallow in sin without struggle:

That these saints did not make a trade of sin. They fell once or twice, and rose by repentance, that they might keep the closer to Christ for ever. They fell accidentally, occasionally, and with much reluctancy;2 and thou sinnest presumptuously, obstinately, readily, delightfully, and customarily. Thou hast, by thy making a trade of sin, contracted upon thy soul a kind of cursed necessity of sinning, that thou canst as well cease to be, or cease to live, as thou canst cease to sin. Sin is, by custom, become as another nature to thee, which thou canst not, which thou wilt not lay aside, though thou knowest that if thou dost not lay sin aside, God will lay thy soul aside for ever; though thou knowest that if sin and thy soul do not part, Christ and thy soul can never meet. If thou wilt make a trade of sin, and cry out, Did not David sin thus, and Noah sin thus, and Peter sin thus? &c. No; their hearts turned aside to folly one day, but thy heart turns aside to folly every day, 2 Peter 2:14, Prov. 4:16; and when they were fallen, they rise by repentance, and by the actings of faith upon a crucified Christ;3 but thou fallest, and hast no strength nor will to rise, but wallowest in sin, and wilt eternally die in thy sins, unless the Lord be the more merciful to thy soul. Dost thou think, O soul! this is good reasoning? Such a one tasted poison but once, and yet narrowly escaped; but I do daily drink poison, yet I shall escape. Yet such is the mad reasoning of vain souls. David and Peter, &c., sinned once foully and fearfully; they tasted poison but once, and were sick to death; but I taste it daily, and yet shall not taste of eternal death. Remember, O souls! that the day is at hand when self-flatterers will be found self-deceivers, yea, self-murderers. That these saints did not make a trade of sin. They fell once or twice, and rose by repentance, that they might keep the closer to Christ for ever. They fell accidentally, occasionally, and with much reluctancy;2 and thou sinnest presumptuously, obstinately, readily, delightfully, and customarily. Thou hast, by thy making a trade of sin, contracted upon thy soul a kind of cursed necessity of sinning, that thou canst as well cease to be, or cease to live, as thou canst cease to sin. Sin is, by custom, become as another nature to thee, which thou canst not, which thou wilt not lay aside, though thou knowest that if thou dost not lay sin aside, God will lay thy soul aside for ever; though thou knowest that if sin and thy soul do not part, Christ and thy soul can never meet. If thou wilt make a trade of sin, and cry out, Did not David sin thus, and Noah sin thus, and Peter sin thus? &c. No; their hearts turned aside to folly one day, but thy heart turns aside to folly every day, 2 Peter 2:14, Prov. 4:16; and when they were fallen, they rise by repentance, and by the actings of faith upon a crucified Christ;3 but thou fallest, and hast no strength nor will to rise, but wallowest in sin, and wilt eternally die in thy sins, unless the Lord be the more merciful to thy soul. Dost thou think, O soul! this is good reasoning? Such a one tasted poison but once, and yet narrowly escaped; but I do daily drink poison, yet I shall escape. Yet such is the mad reasoning of vain souls. David and Peter, &c., sinned once foully and fearfully; they tasted poison but once, and were sick to death; but I taste it daily, and yet shall not taste of eternal death. Remember, O souls! that the day is at hand when self-flatterers will be found self-deceivers, yea, self-murderers.

Thomas Brooks, The Complete Works of Thomas Brooks, Volume 1, ed. Alexander Balloch Grosart (Edinburgh; London; Dublin: James Nichol; James Nisbet and Co.; G. Herbert, 1866), 25.


2 The saints cannot sin (voluntate plena sed semi-plena) with a whole will, but, as it were, with a half will, an unwilling willingness; not with a full consent, but with a dissenting consent.

3 Though sin do (habitare) dwell in the regenerate, as Austin notes, yet it doth not (regnare) reign over the regenerate; they rise by repentance.