A Couple of Reasons to Look at the Excuses You Are Making More Carefully

25 May

When convicted or confronted, it is very tempting to defend yourself. And there’s no question that sometimes people who confront you about something actually are wrong and sometimes even your own conscience is off. I was reading Jonathan Edwards this morning though and I think he gives several good reasons to at least slow yourself down before you totally ignore what others have to say or shut your conscience down altogether:

1. Sin is great at lying to you. One of the descriptions of the sinful lifestyle in Ephesians is that of darkness. The first thing sin does when it enters your heart is try to turn out the lights and we all know that it is much more difficult to see something when it is dark out. The way sin wins in your heart is by getting you to like it and when we like someone or something, we usually can find ways to make arguments for it. Think of a friend. If a friend does something questionable, what do you do? You usually find ways to excuse what he did. Sin wants you to think it is your friend, because it knows if you think it is your friend you will more easily ignore the way it is destroying you.

To paraphrase Jonathan Edwards just a little, this is why many men live in ways that are at odds with God’s Word even when they know God’s Word. So a man may know that it is wrong to gossip about someone, but the same lust that leads them to gossip, blinds them to their gossip. The more a man hates his neighbor, the more he will find like he has good reason for gossiping about him and that it is not actually gossip what he is doing.

When men really want to sin, they can find all kinds of arguments excusing that sin and in fact, the louder their conscience shouts at them that what they are doing is sin, the harder they work at finding excuses and justifications for that sin. Instead of bringing our practices to biblical principles and evaluating them, we bring our principles to our practice and try to find a way to make our principles conform to our practices.

2. Satan is great at lying to you. For thousands of years Satan has been trying to sell sin to people and he’s obviously had a lot of practice in making what is terrible look pretty good.

3. Sometimes it is hard to see what you are doing as wrong because you are so used to doing it. When you have been doing the same wrong thing for a long time, it can feel right not because it is right but just because it is such a habit. You can see this sometimes when you start watching television. At first the show you are watching seems awful, but then after a while, you don’t really even notice how terrible it is, because you have watched it so long, what they are doing seems normal.

4. Sometimes it is hard to see what you are doing is wrong because so many other people are doing it. I wonder if you have ever gone to a different culture and you have seen people doing things that you would be totally embarrassed to do, but no one there seems to even notice. Why? Because it is so normal. The more the people around you do something the more you are tempted to do it as well, and what’s more think nothing of doing it.

5. Sometimes it is hard to see what you are doing is wrong because some of what you are doing is right. We don’t always take the time to think about our whole duty. We stop at the surface of what God is calling us to do and feel like if we are taking care of the surface, that’s all there is to it. We go to church and we listen to good sermons and we are nice to people that we like and we don’t go to dirty movies and we think, well that’s pretty much what being a Christian is all about. Quoting Jonathan Edwards again, “Perhaps their thoughts will be wholly taken up about religious duties, such as prayer in secret, reading the Scriptures and other good books, going to public worship and giving diligent attention, keeping the sabbath, and serious meditation. They seem to regard these things, as though they comprised their duty in its full extent, and as if this were their whole work; and moral duties towards their neighbours, their duties in the relations in which they stand, their duties as husbands or wives, as brethren or sisters, or their duties as neighbours, seem not to be considered by them.”

I wonder sometimes if the more we are tempted to excuse a sin, the harder we ought to look at whether or not it really is sin. Not every confrontation is one we need to heed, obviously; but certainly knowing what we know about our own hearts and the nature of sin and temptation, every confrontation does give us an opportunity to look once again and examine whether or not we are living in a way that is truly pleasing to the Lord.

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