The following is a guest post by Ben Reaoch, pastor of Three Rivers Grace Church in downtown Pittsburgh, PA.
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It started in the Garden. Adam said to God,
The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate. (Genesis 3:12)
The first man, caught in the first sin, turns to blame his wife. And he extends the blame to God as well! He implies that he would have remained innocent if God hadn’t put Eve in the garden with him.
The blame-shifting in the Garden continues today. Our proud hearts send us desperately looking for someone else to point to every time we’re confronted with our own sin. There must be someone else—our spouse, sibling, parent, boss, co-worker, pastor, friend, or God, himself.
We are so desperate to justify ourselves that we become irrational. Here are 12 examples.
I wouldn’t lose my temper if my co-workers were easier to get along with, or if my kids behaved better, or if my spouse were more considerate.
I would be a very patient person if it weren’t for traffic jams and long lines in the grocery store. If I didn’t have so many things to do, and if the people around me weren’t so slow, I would never become impatient!
I would have a pure mind if there weren’t so many sensual images in our culture.
I wouldn’t worry about the future if my life were just a little more secure—if I had more money, and no health problems.
5) Spiritual Apathy
My spiritual life would be so much more vibrant and I would struggle with sin less if my small group were more encouraging, or if Sunday school were more engaging, or if the music in the worship service were more lively, or if the sermons were better.
If my parents/bosses/elders were godly leaders, then I would joyfully follow them.
7) A Critical Spirit
It’s not my fault that the people around me are ignorant and inexperienced.
If you knew what that person did to me, you would understand my bitterness. How could I forgive something like that?
My wife/husband/roommate/friend is a wonderful cook! The things they make are impossible to resist.
It’s the people around me who start the conversations. There’s no way to avoid hearing what others happen to say. And when others ask me questions, I can’t avoid sharing what I know.
I’ll never be happy, because my marriage/family/job/ministry is so difficult.
I would be more generous if we had more money.
Making excuses like this is arrogant and foolish. It’s a proud way of trying to justify our actions and pacify our guilty consciences. And it keeps us from humbling ourselves before God to repent of our sins and seek his forgiveness.
Consider James 1:13-15, which leaves us with no way of escaping our own sin and guilt. We cannot blame God, for he “cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one.”
Instead, we have to accept the humbling truth that “each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.” This will end the blame game, and it will send us pleading for Christ’s mercy and grace.