“He made me do it!” Is perhaps the number one kid excuse of all time! I mean is there a better excuse? Is there a better way to deflect responsibility for our sin than blaming our actions on someone else? “I got mad because my teacher didn’t recognize me.” I snatched a cookie because you wouldn’t let me have a snack.” I.e. I sinned because of you!
Why It Doesn’t Work
The only problem with this thinking is that it is not biblical. God never holds other people responsible for our sin. Not even parents are judged for the sins of their kids (Ezk. 18:20). God holds us responsible for our actions. Regardless of the circumstances, our actions are always just that, our actions. We don’t sin because of someone else. We don’t sin because someone triggered all our defense mechanisms with one rude comment. As Pastor Brad Bigney said, “That button was already there – the pressure only revealed it.” (p.151). We sin because we want to, because we love something more than God! Notice what James 1:14 says, “But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.”
Understanding The Real Problem
The very first of God’s ten commandments says, “You shall have no other God’s before me (Ex. 20:3). To really understand how to only worship one God, we need to take a look at the very last commandment: “You shall not covet.” These two commandments bookend the other 8 because the first one shows us what God requires of us and the last shows us how to achieve it. To worship God and God alone, we have to treasure him above all else. We can’t have idols in our heart. We can’t covet.
The reason we sin, the reason we snap when we don’t get our way is that we are coveting. We are worshiping something more than God. According to Colossians 3:5, covetousness is idolatry. Covetousness creates idols in our heart that replace God. We look at the nude girl on the screen, we scream at our kids when they get too loud, and we rant on Facebook about our job because we are worshiping something other than God. We lust because we covet human companionship more than God. We scream because we covet a quiet house more than God. And, we rant because we love our success more than God. Spiritual idols are not just limited to the generic category of sports, money, and fame. They are the daily things we want more than God. They are the things we sin to get or sin when we don’t get them. As Bigney says, “An idol is anything or anyone that captures our hearts, minds, and affections more than God.”(p.41).
The Covetousness Cure
To not covet, we have to love God. And to love God, we have to avoid coveting. This is how we overcome sin. We daily focus upon worshiping God. And, we daily do battle in our hearts. We daily worship God and we daily abandon our idols. This is how we find the strength through the power of the Holy Spirit to obey God and our parents. This is how we avoid lying, stealing, and murder. To grow in Christ, we must actively pursue the things of God. We must actively uproot out our idols
The next time your child tells you that they sinned because of what some teacher, some (crazy) children’s pastor, or some little kid did, challenge them on it. Remind them that they are in trouble not because of what the other person did but because of what they thought, said, and did. They are in trouble because their actions revealed that they loved something more than God. Help your kids to start asking themselves why they sin. For example, show them that cheating to get a good grade means they love the approval of men more than God. Expose their hearts to the reality of sin, Then, point them towards the God of the universe!