Do Circumstances Explain Our Sins?

Modern culture thinks everyone has an excuse for their sins. The Bible explains the real reason we sin.

Did Cain become a murderer because no one appreciated his farming skills?

Did Balaam turn against Israel because of past rejections and mistreatment?

Did King Saul turn from God because David's popularity damaged his self-esteem?


Cain killed Abel because his “actions were evil” (1 John 3:12). 

Balaam became Israel's enemy because he “loved the wages of wickedness” (2 Peter 2:15). 

King Saul was a bad king because he rejected the word of the LORD (1 Samuel 15:23). 

Our culture is always looking for scapegoats, blaming sinful actions on circumstances, parenting, childhood experiences, mistreatment, insecurities, etc. But Scripture blames sin on the sinner. Sin is always a personal choice.

That's why some people make godly choices despite their bad circumstances and some people make ungodly choices despite their good circumstances.

It's good to sympathize with people who've had difficulties in life (Romans 12:15), but we must never encourage ourselves or others to excuse or justify sin based on circumstances. Why? Because:

“Each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.” James 1:14-15

What God said to Cain applies to all of us:

"If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it." Genesis 4:7

For some additional thoughts on this subject, see Self-Defense and No Regrets.

💙 Beyond 1-minute for those who want to read a testimony relevant to this truth 💙

I received this email from a reader and I asked her permission to share it as an additional confirmation of this biblical truth:

Dear Gail, 

For most of my adult life, I was a professional victim, and worse I had a Ph.D. in Self Pity. 

The people you write about who stand firm in their beliefs about causes of sin are often social workers or those who work in "the system." It seems to me they have no understanding that they help perpetuate a "victim-poor-me" attitude in their "clients". Once that attitude has sunk in there is no way to help a person who gets stuck in a cycle (in my case) of start to get better, have a crisis, start to get better, have a crisis. Round and round it goes over and over again. 

What's more, if I was offered any suggestion I played a part in making this horrible life, I would become dumbfounded. Someone once tried to suggest I was "colluding with my own oppression" Huh??? How was that? I couldn't understand because I was just reacting to circumstances. The causes of which happened long ago and I was living out the effects of those causes. 

It wasn't until Jesus bought me to a rehab in London, about 70 miles from my hometown, that I was able to address my issues squarely and honestly. Without being infantalised by "causes". Causes can't be fought they happened forever ago and if you are subject to them you can never crawl out from the weight of them. The only real way forward is in forgiveness and acceptance of responsibility for your choices, good and bad. 

The rehab had mostly men who had been stuck in cycles of crime, prison, crime, prison. (Rather than poor me mental health) They often had a saying, "If you can't do the time, don't do the crime." It seemed to me they rather welcomed the chance to grow up too! 

All that to say thank you for your brilliant devotional. I really appreciate your wisdom. 

Every blessing 
From London 

Modern culture thinks everyone has an excuse for their sins. The Bible explains the real reason we sin.

Bible Love Notes

1 comment:

  1. All very well put. There are reasons people sin that morf into scapegoats. But the bottom line is that we have free will and are responcible for the choices we make.