So it turns out that as a Christian I still struggle with sin. Or to put it another way, I still sin. Unfortunately, this will continue as long as I am in this mortal body. But as one pastor has famously said, “as Christians we will not be sinless, but we should sin less.” Each one of us is particularly susceptible to certain sins or patterns of temptation. Partly for my own purposes, but also because it may be helpful to some of you, I have listed below some of the excuses I still come up with for giving into temptation, as well as God’s response in his Word to the 10,000 ways I justify my sin.
Other Christians do it.
“Be perfect . . . as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). You will always compare yourself favorably with others. Our target is Christlikeness.
He makes less than me and spends more on his hobbies.
“ . . . in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:3-4). This attitude, like many of my temptations, comes from selfishness. Philippians 2 is all about the selflessness of Christ.
I’m not hurting anyone
“Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight” (Psalm 51:4). All sin is rebellion against God, and there are always interpersonal consequences we don’t realize.
I’m tired. I’m depressed. I’m anxious.
“‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty” (Zechariah 4:6). God will supply physically/spiritually/emotionally what we need to say no to temptation, if we depend on him.
I’m still doing better than ___________.
“Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, for each one should carry his own load” (Galatians 6:4-5). As already mentioned, we need to strive to be like Christ, not compare ourselves with others. In our hearts we all know how far we fall from the mark.
It is just easier to lie in this situation.
“Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread” (Proverbs 30:8). Lying comes from not trusting that God will provide in a given situation. If we trust God for our daily bread, we can be confident to always speak the truth.
Giving in to this temptation will help take the edge off
“A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life” (Galatians 6:7b-8). Sinful indulgence may feel good in the moment, but whenever we sin we are feeding a habit of destruction that will make it harder to say no the next time. Likewise, whenever we choose to obey the Spirit, we are making it easier to obey him next time.
I can’t get by without it
“And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19). And God provides far above what we could ask or imagine!
God knows that when I am tempted by this particular sin, I can’t say no
“No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it” (I Corinthians 10:13). You can say no!
Nobody else has it as hard as me/works as hard as me; I deserve a little indulgence
“Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did” (I Corinthians 10:6). This passage is about the Israelites who grumbled against God after he brought them out of Egypt. They thought they deserved better than the wilderness, although they had the presence of God himself. Be careful about demanding what you “deserve.” We all deserve death because of our sin!
I was trying to do it God’s way when this came along
“ . . . each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed” (James 1:14). Sometimes I seem to blame God when temptation comes along, instead of looking within.
God will forgive me
“Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?” (Romans 6:2). Enough said.
Like a child trying to get into a cookie jar, if I can’t justify sin one way I will often find another, because my evil desires come from within. May God grant me the grace to have new desires. May I learn to delight myself in the Lord, and taste and see that the Lord is good (Psalm 37:4, 34:8). May God grant you this grace also.