Excuses for sin are as universal and as old as sin itself. When Adam and Eve sinned in the garden, they blamed one another and subtly blamed God. Thousands of years later, we spend immeasurable time, money, and energy to defend, justify, and deflect attention our spiritual and moral shortcomings. Even if we don’t intentionally think we’re creating excuses, we can easily fall into the trap of justifying our decisions quicker than we realize. In addition to sin itself, we can use excuses to keep us from gaining forgiveness of our sins through obedience to God’s will. There are three common excuses we use to keep us from being obedient to the Lord:
Sometime. James says in James 4:13-16, “Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit’—yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.’ As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.” One of Satan’s most successful weapons is “later” or “tomorrow.” But we’re not guaranteed either. Multitudes of people have stepped into eternity thinking they had a little more time in which repent of sin. Let’s stop living in sin immediately. Let’s come to the Lord in obedience today. “Sometime else” never comes.
Someone. In chapter one, James emphasizes that temptations to sin arise from within, not around us. “But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death” (1:14-15). The seeds of sin come from within our own hearts. When we choose our selfish desires over the will of God, we sin. When discussing our conflicts in 4:1-4, James uses a form of the word “you” 14 times. Though James makes it clear we are the source of our own sin, we do our best to turn the focus on how others. We argue that others cause us to sin; we say others hurt us in such a way to cause us to respond with sinful behavior; we expect others to fix themselves before we correct our sinfulness. Let’s stop minimizing our personal responsibility to our own sin. Let’s not use others as a crutch keeping us from living faithfully to the Lord.
Somewhat. One of James’ major themes in his letter on “practical faith” is “complete obedience.” At least seven passages emphasize the principle of obeying the Lord in every way. One such passage is 2:14-17, “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and filled’; without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” Faith is obviously a good thing; yet James is emphatic that faith alone isn’t enough to please God. There’s no room for somewhat believing, somewhat obeying, somewhat loving. Let’s stop thinking partial obedience is enough. Let’s obey the Lord totally.
Let’s commit to the Lord and His will. And to avoid using these and other excuses for sin.