Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Let's Play the "Blame Game"

What is it about human nature that causes individuals to shift both blame and responsibility for their actions upon alternate sources? Looking back to the book of Genesis in chapter 3 verses 1-19, we can recount the events of the fall from grace:

1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, "Indeed, has God said, `You shall not eat from any tree of the garden'?" 2 The woman said to the serpent, "From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; 3 but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, `You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.' " 4 The serpent said to the woman, "You surely will not die! 5 "For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." 6 When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings. 8 They heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. 9 Then the LORD God called to the man, and said to him, "Where are you?" 10 He said, "I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself." 11 And He said, "Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?" 12 The man said, "The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate." 13 Then the LORD God said to the woman, "What is this you have done?" And the woman said, "The serpent deceived me, and I ate." 14 The LORD God said to the serpent, "Because you have done this, Cursed are you more than all cattle, And more than every beast of the field; On your belly you will go, And dust you will eat All the days of your life; 15 And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel." 16 To the woman He said, "I will greatly multiply your pain in childbirth, in pain you will bring forth children; yet your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you." 17 Then to Adam He said, "Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, `You shall not eat from it'; Cursed is the ground because of you; In toil you will eat of it All the days of your life. 18 "Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you; And you will eat the plants of the field; 19 By the sweat of your face you will eat bread, Till you return to the ground, Because from it you were taken; For you are dust, And to dust you shall return."

If you’ll notice, in verses 12-13, man blames the woman for his actions, and woman blames the serpent for her actions. All (the serpent, the woman, and the man) are punished for their sin in verses 14-19, but it is interesting how neither the man nor the woman take responsibility for their disobedience, but rather begin the continued art of blame-shifting from original sin.

Most recently, I observed while on a police ride-a-long a woman who was stopped and arrested for drunk driving after traveling the wrong way down a one-way street. Being nearly double the legal drinking limit for the operation of a non-commercial motor vehicle (.13 or 13% BAC [Blood Alcohol Content]), the driver never once related her behavior to the irresponsibility of her choice to drink in excess and drive, but rather not having asked her friend better directions (having turned right into oncoming traffic rather than left in the correct direction). Sadly, this illustration of behavior coupled with the Scriptural example given from Genesis adequately relates the human condition in relation to sin: That our foolish pride, recognized or not, causes us to shift the responsibility of our own sinful actions rather than address the fact that we are all filthy sinners deserving of death and in need of God’s beautiful grace (Romans 3:23, 6:23; Ephesians 2:8-9).

Whether Adam and Eve in the Garden claiming, “It’s not my fault, ‘they’ made me do it!” or this poor drunken fool of a woman declaring, “It was the directions!” we all have the same response in the flesh to our individual sin. According to James 2:10, “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one {point,} he has become guilty of all." So while we are in our sin trying to shift blame from ourselves to an outside source, we are all lawbreakers and guilty before God. In fact, Isaiah 64:6 tells us, “For all of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment.” While our fleshly nature attempts to divert God’s attention to our sin away from ourselves and his attention to our “righteousness” to ourselves, the opposite occurs. He holds us responsible for our own sin (Romans 14:11-12) and counts our righteousness as filth (again, Isaiah 64:6).

Think of how much more of a glorious example this makes Christ in relation to our gross disobedience to the Law of God. In fact, apart from Christ as Lord, God does not receive our righteous deeds as righteous deeds at all (Ephesians 2:10). In closing, it is the imputed righteousness of Christ which allows us to glorify God, and to receive this capability, we must first surrender ourselves with a repentant and contrite heart to a Holy God through Jesus Christ.

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