I am the queen of excuses. On occasion I will admit that I am wrong, but that admonition is often accompanied by an explanation. I never would have committed that sin if it weren’t for “blah blah blah”. The problem with this kind of attitude is that it makes change impossible. If my sin is the result of the actions of others, then all my effort has to be in controlling other people and other circumstances.
To attempt godliness, we become expert avoiders. If we are unsuccessful in avoiding a tempting situation, then the circumstances are to blame. The problem could never actually be my own. Paul addresses this in the Bible when he talks about what truly defiles a person. Is it those circumstances? Is it that alcohol? Is it that movie? Is it those corrupt people?
17 “Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? 18 But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. 20 These are what defile a person;
We want to control our actions, without letting God change our hearts. Our excuses are endless.“I got drunk, because there was alcohol at the restaurant.” “I lusted because that woman’s shirt was too revealing.” “I gossiped because I was on Facebook.” “I said those things, because of the bad music they play at work.”
Jesus tells us that those things are not to blame. The real problem is in our own hearts. No rules will protect us from the natural desires of the flesh. Jesus’ heart-changing grace is the only cure.
What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?
Of course, there is wisdom in considering what environment we put ourselves in. Staying away from our temptation is wise, however blaming the temptation for our sin not.
1 Corinthians 10:23
“I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive.