“I was just fine until he said that, and I unloaded on him!”
“She made me so angry I couldn’t sleep!”
“What do you mean by that look? You are making me mad!”
“I don’t love you any more, you make me unhappy.”
“That stupid clerk made me curse…”
“When you leave your things on the floor it makes me furious!”
“They made me hate them. It was not my fault. I didn’t do anything wrong.”
Have you ever heard any of these statements? Ever said them? These and tens of thousands more are as common as the morning sun. And, there is no marked difference between people who are not people of faith and those who are regarding this type of excuse. If you question that statement, talk to a minister who counsels couples with marriage difficulties, or a Christian psychologist, you will find that they hear this sort of victim mentality routinely.
One of the earliest tactics children learn is to blame someone or something for their mistakes or wrongful acts. Every person who reads this knows without having to be convinced that this is true. Even the sweetest child will often blame a sibling for spilling cereal on the floor, or writing on the wall with an ink pen. My grandsons often exclaim when I correct one for hitting the other, “He made me do it!” or “It’s not my fault…bla bla bla…”
The preferred methodology of psychologists is to delve into the past of people who behave terribly to try to learn what external stimuli shaped them into such rotten characters. Surely culture, family atmosphere, religious training (or the lack of it), and many other things contribute to making us the people we become as adults. That fact is not in question. However, those things are not the end of the story.
So, almost all counselors, psychiatrists, and psychologists dig into the client’s past with a view of providing information and new stimuli with a view of correcting destructive, disruptive, and sometimes criminal behavior. This is the solution humanism offers even if couched in “Christian” terms or offered by a “Christian” professional.
It might shock you to learn that Jesus had a different view of human failings. This is what He said.
And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.” (Mark 7:20-23)
Jesus was certainly not alone in his appraisal of the human condition. Consider these passages. They speak the same truth.
And when the LORD smelled the pleasing aroma, the LORD said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth.
“The heart is deceitful above all things,
and desperately sick;
who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9)
SIN is original equipment.
Today I saw a young woman on TV who had taken a plea deal offered by the D.A.’s office to two counts of 2nd degree murder to avoid the possibility of the death penalty. This calm, innocent appearing young woman killed her two small children intentionally and on purpose. I am positive that when she was a toddler her parents never thought that their baby girl had the potential to be a murderer of their grand babies and be sentenced to two consecutive life sentences. According to Jesus “murder” is one of those sins that resides deep in the innermost depths (heart) of a human being.
In another place, a mother whose daughter committed the same crime could only use as an excuse for her daughters crime “she was distraught”.
The Proverbs passage quoted above says in part “the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth”. Most of my friends do not believe this and they will tell you quickly they don’t. But, it is true without regard for who believes it. Ugly but true!
That our problems are SIN is really good news!
Much of our Christian ministry is humanism wrapped up in “church terms”. What we desperately seek is to permanently modify the behavior of husbands who have fits of anger and slap their wives around, meth heads who will do almost anything to fuel their addiction, and bitter house wives who are miserable with their marriages and life in general. Most of what we do is no more effective than treating cancer with a band aid. Even if the symptoms are negated, the problem still lurks in the darkness and is very likely to rear it’s ugly head in the future. SIN is not cured by humanistic methodology.
SIN is our problem and Jesus came to cure sin. What is needed is to drastically change the condition of the human heart, that part of a man that stores up ungodliness and contempt for the things of God.
The Bible is so wonderfully simplistic on difficult problems that we often overlook life saving truths. Christians need not tolerate SIN.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)
This is a tremendous promise for the believer. If we will only agree with God about our SINS, see them as He sees them, He will forgive and cleanse. Many will protest, “That is just too simple!” It is not too simple.
Let’s think through this. Jesus died for “all” of our sins. The fact is that when He died the death you and I deserved “all” of our sins were future. “All” of our sins were put on Him, He became sin “for us” so that we could be “made righteous” through Him. So, we who are faith followers of Jesus have been saved from the penalty of sin. It is a done deal!
Now it is God’s intention to sanctify us, that is to set us apart for him by a process of shaping us into people who more closely resemble Jesus in thoughts, intentions, attitudes, and daily living. A way we participate in this theological process called “sanctification” is “walking in the Spirit”. The one who is “walking in the Spirit” quickly repents when he becomes aware of SIN in his life and claims God’s forgiveness. He moves on listening carefully to that still small voice that continually points him towards God’s best for him.
Modify or Mortify?
Husband “A” has a violent temper. Without warning, his wife and children are the objects of his anger. A word, a radio that is too loud, a wife a few minutes late, etc. are triggers for unbridled rage. His dad was very much the same and so was his grandfather.
Humanism says lets learn some ways to “modify” the behavior. After all, isn’t how he acts the problem? If the professional, or the minister, or the caring friend can help Mr. “A” change his actions everything will be OK. Or will it? This method is often labeled, “Anger Management”.
The Bible says lets call SIN SIN and deal with it the Scriptural way. Husband “A” recognizes his simmering anger as SIN. He agrees with God that it is SIN and accepts God’s forgiveness. (Of course he seeks the forgiveness of those he has hurt as well). Not only does God forgive, but also cleanses him from “all unrighteousness”. (1 John 1:9) Now, he might find himself guilty of this sin again and when he does he repeats the process and as he is empowered by the Holy Spirit who lives in him, eventually he will experience mastery over the sin that is in him. By the power of the Holy Spirit we are to rule over sin, not the reverse.
I know some who read this will protest saying “This will not work!” Have you tried it God’s way? Unless the Bible is not true it will absolutely work.
You see SIN is the root of your problems. Your neighbor didn’t “make you angry”. Your ugly neighbor only exposed what was already in you. It is what comes out of you that defiles you. You had SIN in you before the neighbor ever came into view.
Once more, just so we don’t forget.
And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness.All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.” (Mark 7:20-23)
And, Paul wrote,
“Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these.”
“…but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members (flesh)” (Romans 7:23)
Paul, like Jesus, understood the nature and deceitfulness of sin. The pressing question then is this. Will we be satisfied with temporarily modifying unproductive behavior, which at best is a remedy, or do we want God’s cure? Only in the person and work of Jesus for you is there a cure.