Back to Square One

A Common Phrase

The phrase “back to square one” has become a commonly used expression meaning “to go back to the beginning.” There are several claimed origins of this phrase such as: board games (like Snakes and Ladders) or other children’s games (like Hopscotch). Whatever the origin, the meaning describes a situation where one has to start over completely in whatever task.

Reality of Life

There are many situations in life where such an unfortunate occurrence may exist. For example, this could be a project of great complexity (such as building a house) where the dimension of an original plan is incorrect. Many times when this befalls man, he must not only make the effort to redo what has already been done, but also to remove the fruits of his labors to that point.

For the Christian, it is possible to develop this kind of an attitude toward one’s spiritual walk. For some, the inevitable reality of failure can lead to the belief that one must spiritually go “back to square one.” Any progress made by the Christian down the path of light is seen as inconsequential due to the failing of sin. This attitude, however, is wrong for two important reasons:

No expectation of perfection

God does not have an expectation of perfection for the Christian. While the intention toward perfection is a goal, it is not an actual possibility for an imperfect human being. Those who would claim such for themselves or expect such of others are deceiving themselves (1 John 1:8). They embrace a lie of their own creation, and, by extension, call God a liar as well (1 John 1:10).

A continuous blessing

The forgiveness of sins afforded by Christ is not an occasional benefit, but a continuous one. The cleansing of sin continues as we journey down the path, not once we return to where we started from (1 John 1:7). To fit the idea of a game board, our sins are forgiven at Square One, Square Twelve, and even Square 1,437. What matters is that when we step off the path, we acknowledge and repent of our sin and as to be restored once again. When our foot returns, it returns back to where we left the path so to continue the journey.

Stuck at ‘Square One’

The reality is that if every sin committed by the Christian sent him or her “back to square one,” there would be no Christians ever walking much past that “square.” It is the grace of God through the blood of Christ that allows us to journey at all. We journey this walk of light not through actual perfection, but despite our imperfection. How else would we ever grow spiritually?

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