Updated: Oct 11, 2019
I used to be a smoker. And I loved it. I developed the habit when I was a waitress, because the only way you got a break, was if you smoked! I decided I wanted a break so I picked up smoking. And eventually, it became a need instead of something I did to take a break from serving.
A lot of times in life, a small sin can grow into a habit without us realizing it.
And often, we may admit we need to change something, but we don’t want to admit that we may be the problem, or that we need help. So we use avoidance strategies. These include:
1. Self-reliance which says, “I don’t need to tell anyone about this, I will just overcome it myself”
2. Self-justification which says: “This is just how I am...”
These claims often involve excusing, minimizing, and eventually hiding sin.
If you open your Bible to Genesis, you see that the first sin began with doubting God’s word and desiring created things more than the Creator. We also see the “blame game” in action. Adam blamed Eve, Eve blamed the serpent (You can read this in Genesis 3:11-13).
Today, we still (if we are honest) try to pass the blame for our sin.
What this may look like:
Blaming people for what they have done:
“They provoked me… they irritated me…they started it…”
Blaming people for what they have not done:
“if you would just help me more.. if you would have been there for me… if you loved me better.”
Or blaming our circumstances-our context, our upbringing, personal history, or genetics.
Context: “He just made me so mad… it was so unfair… you would have done the same thing if you were in my shoes!
Upbringing: “I was raised this way, I take after my mother, she used to get so angry… She is the reason I have a temper.”
Personal History: “you’d be an angry person too if you have been through what I have.”
Genetics: “I was born this way… It’s just how I am.”
Don’t get me wrong, there are sooooo many truths in these explanations. Yes, external factors reinforce or trigger sin. They may even shape the form it takes place…
But none of these factors offer a full explanation of our sin. We cannot control what has happened to us, but we can choose how we respond to our circumstances. And often what determines those choices are the thoughts and desires in our hearts.
For example, if I don’t work on anger.. and someone makes me mad. I will assume my anger is just bound to happen, it is unavoidable, and appropriate. So I will explode and feel justified. But the truth is that my anger reveals my heart. And my heart has failed to build up scriptures like,
“Be angry and do not sin (Ephesians 4:26)… a soft answer turns away wrath (Proverbs 15:1)…etc.”
Someone wrote: “When I say I am defeated by some sin, I am unconsciously slipping out from under my responsibility. I am saying something outside of me has defeated me. But when I say I am disobedient, that places the responsibility for my sin squarely on me. We may, in fact, be defeated, but the reason we are defeated is because we have chosen to disobey.
All our blaming ends up on God’s doorstep. We point to other people, our circumstances, or our biology. But what we’re saying is that it’s God’s fault. He allowed these circumstances. He made me the way I am. But James says, “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God,’ for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire” (James 1:13–14). God isn’t out to get us. Nor does he put us in impossible situations in which we’re bound to sin. It’s our own evil desires that entice us. “It’s different for me,” we say. “My circumstances are worse than hers.”
In these justifications, we are limiting God’s transforming power that can occur in His word.
When it comes to bad habits, we have to humble ourselves enough to tremble at the Word of God when He sheds light on something we may be doing wrong. When did you last tremble at God’s Word? “This is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word” (Isaiah 66:2). If we minimize sin; we are not trembling before God.
Pride makes us deaf to God’s Word and cripples it’s ability to transform us.
Pride says, “I know that already, I just can’t do it. I have tried and failed” But what if we approached the word as needy sinners? What if we approached the word wanting to be broken and transformed by it? If we are not careful, pride will dismiss any conviction the word could potentially bring.
“It’s not my fault.” “It’s not a big deal.” “Overall I’m a good person.” These are ways people avoid taking responsibility for their sin.
Our response needs to be, “It is my fault. It is a big deal. I am bad person and that is precisely why I need Jesus and God’s word.
One writer said it best, “Increasingly in our culture, self-fulfillment has become the accepted priority. People claim, “My duty is to myself, to be the person I want to be or to accept the person I am.” So any talk of guilt is seen as an attack on “project me.” As a result, even when you highlight my guilt, I’m still the victim. You’ve just made me feel bad about myself.”
This post is not to make anyone feel bad about themselves. It is to make you aware of the joy of forgiveness and freedom. But the thing is, People reject this joy because they won’t admit they need a Savior. We’re not victimizing ourselves when we talk about sin. We’re stepping onto the road of forgiveness and freedom. We find forgiveness and freedom from sin when we repent of our sin and turn to God in faith. In fact, there’s no forgiveness and no freedom without repentance. And there’s no repentance without responsibility. We’re not repenting when we pass the blame or minimize our sin. There can be no “buts” in repentance. We can’t say, “I repent of my sin, but it’s not really my fault.” We can’t say, “I repent of my sin, but it wasn’t really that bad.”
So this week… My challenge is to pick a habit in your life and put aside your excuses. Find people in scripture who had to do the same, or verses that align with your goals.
If you cannot think of anything, pray, and ask someone close to you what they think a negative quality is that you could change. ***tread lightly with asking, and avoid getting defensive! Luke and I constantly ask, “What can I do to be a better husband? What can I do to be a better wife?” and honestly, it has helped us grow tremendously, but we had to put our
Write about it here in the comment section!
I look forward to hearing and growing with you.
I will go first:
Habit I need to fix:
Shutting down when I receive negative feedback or lack of encouragement. I often care way too much what people say to the point where it will throw me into a state of just giving up on a project I am working on (Like unpublishing a book because I got a negative comment).
I need to focus more on posting and writing despite getting discouraged instead of shutting down and quitting. I get really discouraged when members of the church will comment and encourage someone who posts a cat video or baby video, but stay silent or leave members in the church posting biblical videos hanging without encouragement.
A person in scripture who is helping me overcome this:
Paul: despite getting criticized by the church, being thrown in prison, amongst other things, he remained bold in his faith
Joshua: He had big shoes to fill when Moses failed to enter the promise land, but he did it and God reminded Him in chapter 1:9, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
Specific scripture to build in my heart:
“Let no one [a]despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, [b]in spirit, in faith, in purity.” 1 Timothy 4:12
I look forward to hearing from you!