One of the many issues that we humans struggle with is our ability to see the sin in our own eyes. In other words we all love to make excuses for our behavior. This has profound implications for not only the person doing the wrong, but also for all those individuals who are affected by the excuses. We see this played out time and time again in the Scriptures.
The first time this occurs is in the book of Genesis with the story of Adam and Eve. God told the first family to not eat of the tree in the middle of the garden. But as most of us know the devil in the form of a serpent convinces the woman that this was not such a bad thing. She gives in to the temptation, eats of the fruit, and then gives the tasty delight to her husband, who also eats of the forbidden delicacy.
Now for one minute I don’t think this surprises God. Upon Adam and Eve’s action, God comes first to Adam to ask him if he ate the forbidden fruit. Adam does admit it, but ultimately blames it on his wife and by subtle implication God as well. Then God goes to the woman and asks the same question. She immediately says that the devil deceived her and that is why she ate.
The interesting thing is that both Adam and Eve are recounting the facts of the matter, but not the heart of the matter. The ultimate reason they ate was because they wanted to eat of the fruit and actually didn’t believe God. By any other name, this is an excuse.
The second Biblical story illustrating this issue is found in Exodus 32. Moses had gone up Mt. Sinai to receive the Law and the 10 Commandments and left his brother Aaron in charge of the people. Remember this is the same Aaron who was with Moses confronting Pharaoh and seeing all the miracles that God performed.
In time the people are getting anxious as to what happened to Moses. They plead with Aaron to make them some gods who can lead them. Aaron tells them to bring all their gold jewelry, which he melted down and formed a detestable gold calf. What is significant to me is in verse 5 where it says that Aaron sees the excitement of the people and as a result builds an altar in front of the calf for worship.
Eventually Moses comes down from the mountain, confronts the people and his brother and destroys the golden calf. Moses demands Aaron tell him what could have made him do such an awful thing. Aaron says that you know how wicked the people are. He said because Moses was gone so long that at his suggestion the people gave him their gold jewelry which he throws into the fire, out pops the golden calf. Out pops the golden calf!!! Aaron takes zero responsibility for letting the people get out of control and his complicity in the sin.
Saul, the first king of Israel, several times not only disobeyed the clear instructions of the Lord, but constantly made excuses for his behavior, even to the point of justifying what he did. Such an example was when he was told to utterly destroy all the Amalekites, every last living thing. Saul destroyed most of them, but didn’t kill the Amalekite king or the best of the sheep and cattle.
When confronted by the prophet Samuel about his disobedience, Saul declared that he did obey the Lord. He then says the reason for not destroying all the animals is so they could be sacrificed to the Lord. Wow, talk about excuses and then to justify it on top of it all.
There is a very famous verse, 1 John 1:9, that simply says if we confess (admit) our sins then God will forgive us and cleanse us. We all sin (do wrong), but God wants us to own up to it, admit it openly to Him and to any we have wronged, and with His help do better.
Watching what is going on these days in our political arenas, our business world, and yes even in our churches, wouldn’t it be refreshing, even liberating to see people say I have done something wrong and am truly sorry and need help to change. Rather than it be something to condemn, we would recognize it for what it is: but for the grace of God, go I.