If You Are Sure It's Not Your Fault
A little boy is caught stealing a candy bar. "My big brother said he would beat me up if I didn't. He made me." Did he?
A teenager is arrested for drunken driving. Several other teens known for their delinquency are with him. "My Billie wouldn't have done that if he hadn't been with those other teens. It was their fault," say his parents. Was it?
Riots break out in Los Angeles after an apparently unfair jury verdict. Hundreds of innocent people are injured and property is vandalized. It's the fault of society, we hear. Is it?
A businessman is caught cheating on his income tax. He says it was the only way to survive. The system made him do it. Did it?
Who is responsible for our actions? Who controls the destiny of man? Are we pawns driven by other people, the system, or other forces to actions which are beyond our control?
The question is not an easy one. However, God's Word clearly presents several principles which help us come to an answer.
First, let's look at our original parents and the first blame-passing recorded in history. Adam and Eve were placed in a perfect garden created for their enjoyment. In the garden was a tree whose fruit they were told not to eat--one tree among many beautiful fruit trees from which they could eat. Satan tempted Eve with promises of power and advancement if only she would eat the forbidden fruit. She listened to the tempter, ate some, and gave to her husband who also ate.
Then God came on the scene. "Did you eat the forbidden fruit?" He asked Adam.
"The woman You put here, she gave me some and I ate it," Adam replied.
So God asked Eve, "What have you done?"
Eve said, "The serpent deceived me, and I ate it."
Although God punished the serpent, He clearly pointed out the responsibility of Adam and Eve in making a wrong choice and punished them accordingly.
We are individually responsible to God. "Every one of us shall give account of himself to God" (Romans 14:12). All of us must appear before God's judgment seat to receive what is due us (II Corinthians 5:10). God has made it very clear--we are responsible for our actions. Sin is a choice to violate God's law, and those who sin will suffer the consequences.
People can be influenced to sin. Although every person makes a choice when he or she sins, sometimes people sin because of pressure from others. Jesus said, "But whoso shall offend [influence to sin or lose faith in God] one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea" (Matthew 18:6). In the illustrations at the beginning, others, whether individually or corporately as a society, influenced someone to sin. God hates this and will judge it.
Nevertheless, the person doing the wrong is still responsible. All of us have to face difficult choices in our lives, even to the point of personal suffering or loss if we choose the right--but we still have a choice. If personal sin can be excused because of circumstances, all of us could find excuses because no one lives in a perfect environment.
God gives grace for every situation. God promises us in I Corinthians 10:13 that He will never allow us to be tempted to the point where we have no choice but to sin. He always will provide a way out.
2. Forgive those who wrong you. Jesus told us if we don't forgive those who sin against us, our Father in heaven will not forgive our sins against Him when we ask.
3. Help others take responsibility for their sins. Jesus said if someone sins against us, we should go and tell him his fault just between the two of us. This loving confrontation is not to pass on blame but to help the other person to a better relationship with God.
4. Leave revenge to God. In James 1:20, God tells us that man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. In Romans 12:19-21 God says it is His job to avenge evil. Our responsibility is to show love. If our enemy is hungry, we should feed him. If he is thirsty, we should give him a drink. In this way we will overcome evil with good instead of being overcome by evil.
To repent means to turn away from your sin in genuine sorrow. It is effective only when we realize we have sinned against a holy God.
"Thine own wickedness shall correct thee, and thy backslidings shall reprove thee: know therefore and see that it is an evil thing and bitter, that thou hast forsaken the Lord thy God, and that my fear is not in thee, saith the Lord God of hosts" (Jeremiah 2:19).
"Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out" (Acts 3:19).
To confess means to verbally acknowledge your sin and your need of Jesus as your Lord and Saviour.
The following verses will guide you:
"For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me" (Psalm 51:3).
"God be merciful to me a sinner" (Luke 18:13).
"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (I John 1:9).
"If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved" (Romans 10:9).
To believe means to completely accept what God has said, so that we act upon it.
"Without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him" (Hebrews 11:6).
"Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved" (Acts 16:31).
"For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also" (James 2:26).
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