Subtraction is Better Than Addition

1 Samuel 12:19
“And all the people said unto Samuel, Pray for thy servants unto the LORD thy God, that we die not: for we have added unto all our sins this evil, to ask us a king.”

We often hear how we need to add to our Christian life, but one of the things that is so often ignored is the importance of subtracting from it. It is important to add what the Scriptures tell us to do to our Christian life, but it is as important to subtract those things that hinder us from serving the LORD. If you don’t subtract, the addition won’t equal what the LORD desires out of your life.

Israel never seemed to learn the value of subtraction. It seemed that they always did wrong, and afterwards asked for forgiveness. The verse above is a great example of Israel’s inability to quit adding to their sins. They realized after they asked for a king that they had “added unto all” their sins. There needed to be a point in their lives when they stopped adding and started subtracting from their evil ways.

Sadly, I find that many Christians fall into the same trap of asking forgiveness over and over again. Don’t get me wrong, I believe you should quickly repent of your sin once you do it, but don’t keep on going back and doing the same thing over again. At some point you need to mature as a Christian so that you are not constantly doing the same thing. You need to learn to subtract those sinful habits from your life. Let me make three statements concerning this truth.

First, forgiveness is not a crutch to sin. You have certainly heard the statement, “Forgiveness is easier to get than permission.” This statement is wrong in its core because the sincere Christian wouldn’t want to sin. If you truly desire to serve the LORD, you would not want to hurt your Saviour by doing wrong. Just because you know that God forgives doesn’t mean that you should sin. Yes, God forgives, but let me also remind you that God’s “…spirit shall not always strive with man…” Just because God showed mercy the last time doesn’t mean He is obligated to show it again.

Second, the best “I’m sorry” is doing right. You can say “I’m sorry” a hundred times, but God would rather you do right than to say that you are sorry continually. Certainly, you should be sorry for your sin, but God desires obedience. God says in 1 Samuel 15:22, “…Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.” Yes, you should apologize to the LORD, but let your next apology be the action of doing right.

Third, when in doubt, don’t. The best way to keep from continually doing wrong is not to do what you continually do. God has given you a brain to think, and you should use your brain to think before you act. If you are in doubt of whether something is right, don’t do it. God says in Romans 14:23, “And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.” My friend, doubt is the Devil’s greatest tool to deceive Christians. He used doubt against Eve to get her to sin, and he uses it against you to cause you to do wrong. The best rule to use to avoid sin is when you are in doubt of whether it is right to do, don’t do it.

There comes a point in your life when you need to subtract wrong actions. You will never enjoy victory in your Christian life until you learn to subtract them. If you just do right, you will learn that subtraction is not that hard to do.