By Charles F. Stanley
Few people willingly take responsibility for their temptations; it’s much easier to blame someone or something else. Passing the buck in this area is nothing new. When God asked Adam why he had eaten from the forbidden tree, he replied:
The man said, "The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate"
The very first time man was confronted by God about his sin, he pointed to someone else—his wife! Eve responded in a similar way:
The serpent deceived me, and I ate (Gen. 3:13).
But blaming someone or something else did not work in the beginning, and it will not work now. God still held Adam and Eve accountable for their actions and threw them out of the garden (Gen. 3:23-24).
Pointing your finger at someone or something else for a particular weakness appears to take the responsibility off your shoulders. However, until you are willing to honestly admit your failures, you will be unable to do anything about them. Let’s take a look at common ways people try to excuse their guilt.
“But that’s just the way I am.”
Many people blame their personality for their inability to deal with particular temptations. The implication is, “I have always been this way, and I always will be.” I hear this frequently from those with out-of-control tempers or people who refuse to talk openly in the midst of conflict. But God does not excuse poor behavior, and no one else should either.
Have you been using your personality as an excuse rather than trying to change? If you have, it is time to quit justifying yourself. To do otherwise is to rob yourself of the joy that comes with the freedom of putting bad habits behind you.
Another excuse people use is that of circumstances or environment. “If it weren’t for the people I work with (or my difficult home life, etc.) I wouldn’t have this problem.” Unmarried men and women are increasingly using their singleness as an excuse to engage in premarital sex. Blaming your habits on circumstances allows someone or something to control your destiny in that area. Certainly, there comes a time to change jobs, friends, or whatever is contributing to your problem. But first you must come to grips with the fact that you are responsible for your behavior.
“My parents are to blame.”
We know that parents make a huge impact on their children, and the effects—for better or worse—can last throughout life. Unfortunately, some people use this insight as an excuse rather than a tool to aid in the process of change. They shift the responsibility for their sins from themselves to their parents, with explanations like, “If my mom and dad hadn’t treated me the way they did, I wouldn’t have these problems.”
Your mother and father may have set you up for the challenges you face today. However, you are accountable before God to deal with the things in your life that need to change.
“The Devil made me do it.”
This is an excuse that has been around since the beginning (Gen. 3:13). Satan does have something to do with the temptation process, but we need to be aware that he cannot make us do anything. The only power the “father of lies” has over people is through manipulation and deceit (John 8:44). When the Devil dangles bait right in front of us, we become so attuned to our fleshly desires that we may feel as if he is drawing us towards evil. But in each case, we actually make the choice whether to sin. The Devil does not hold us down and force us to do wrong.
“Lord, how could You?”
Many believers blame God for their temptations. But Scripture is clear that the Lord does not entice us to sin:
Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone (James 1:13).
We live in an imperfect world, surrounded by people who make evil choices. The Lord is not to blame; man is. One day you and I will have to stand before Him and give an account of our deeds
(2 Cor. 5:9-10). Each of us must take responsibility for our unwillingness—and at times inability—to withstand temptation.
What about you?
Have you fallen into the trap of making excuses for the recurring sins in your life? Are you no longer convicted of transgressions that used to drive you to confession and repentance? Have you convinced yourself that God understands your particular situation and won’t hold you accountable?
If you answered yes to any of the above questions, you must make a decision. God didn’t accept Adam and Eve’s attempts to shift the blame. He doesn’t accept yours either. Who is to blame for your failure to deal successfully with temptation? You are. Face up to this fact, and you will take a giant step towards overcoming temptation.