Who Do We Blame?
As we look throughout the world we see sin everywhere. In every city, in every state, and in every country, there are people who are engaging in sinful activities. Sin is running rampant because people are openly rejecting God’s will and God’s word. Even within our lives, we struggle with sin on a daily basis.
The question which comes to mind is this: Who do we blame for sin within the world? Could we place blame on Adam? The apostle Paul wrote, “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned” (Romans 5:12). It is true the phrase “one man” is a reference to Adam. However, Paul clearly explains that “death” spreads to all men because all men sin. Adam did bring sin into the world through disobedience to God, but Adam’s sin does not cause men to sin.
If we cannot blame Adam, then could we blame Eve? The apostle Paul tells us that the serpent “deceived Eve by his craftiness” (2 Corinthians 11:3). Eve then “gave to her husband with her, and he ate” (Genesis 3:6). Although Eve was the first human to disobey God, the Bible does not portray Eve as the cause of mankind’s sins. As a matter of fact, Ezekiel places the responsibility of sin upon the individual who sins. Ezekiel writes, “The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself” (Ezekiel 18:20). In line with this truth, the apostle Paul writes, “But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written: ‘As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me, and every tongue shall confess to God.’ So then each of us shall give account of himself to God” (Romans 14:10-12). Can we blame Eve for the sin of the world? The answer is no. We cannot blame Eve for the sins of the world.
If we cannot blame Adam and Eve for our sins, then can we blame the devil? From certain passages, the devil looks to be the blame for mankind’s sin. From some passages we learn that the devil deceives people. As we showed earlier, the devil deceived Eve. According to the apostle Paul, sin took “occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it killed me” (Romans 7:11). The Hebrew writer warns against being “hardened through the deceitfulness of sin” (Hebrews 3:13). Satan deceives people using his “devices” and “wiles.” The apostle Paul warned the saints in Corinth, saying, “(L)est Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices” (2 Corinthians 2:11). To the church in Ephesus, the apostle Paul also wrote, “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11). Jesus, in two parables, appears to place some blame upon the devil. In the parable of the tares, Jesus said the enemy who sowed the tares was the devil. (Matthew 13:39) In the parable of the sower Jesus said, “Those by the wayside are the ones who hear; then the devil comes and takes away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved” (Luke 8:12). Let us not forget Peter’s warning, saying, “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8, ESV). The devil is always watchful, trying to devour us through the elements of the world, the lusts of the flesh, the lusts of the eyes, the vain glory of life as well as our own passions. (cf. 1 John 2:15-17)
While it is quite clear the devil plays a large part in the existence of sin within the world, other passages keep us from placing all the blame upon the devil.
Why can we not place all the blame for sin upon the devil? The answer is quite simple: No man sins without making the decision to sin. The choice to listen to a lie told by the devil or to listen to the truth of God’s word is a choice every individual must make. Consider the following passages which establish this truth.
- The apostle Paul told the brethren in Ephesus not to give place to the devil. (Ephesians 6:11) This command establishes the accountability of the person who willingly chooses to give place to the devil.
- James, through inspiration, teaches us to resist the devil. (James 4:7) The command to resist the devil is a command showing choice on our part. Either we can choose to walk with the devil in fulfilling his wishes and desires or resist the devil and draw near to God.
- In his letter to Timothy, Paul refers to young widows who had “already turned aside after Satan” (1 Timothy 5:15). These young windows made the choice to “cast off their first faith,” engage in idle behavior, gossip about other brethren and become busybodies in the affairs of other people. (cf. 1 Timothy 5:11-15)
- In his letter to the church in Rome, Paul clearly instructs the brethren to “make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts” (Romans 13:14). An individual’s choice is clearly seen in the phrase “make no provisions.” If a person makes the choice to “walk in the Spirit,” then he makes the choice to “not fulfill the lust of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16). The apostle Peter begged the brethren to “abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul” (1 Peter 2:11). The only way a Christian can overcome the lust of the flesh is to willingly choose not to fulfill those lusts.
- The apostle Paul, in the first chapter of the Roman letter observed there had been those who “did not like to retain God in their knowledge.” As a result, “God gave them over to a debased mind.” (Romans 1:28) These Gentiles had willfully chosen to reject the knowledge of God.
Just in case there may be doubt in a person’s mind regarding who is to blame for the sin in his life, consider the following inspired words of James: “But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren” (James 1:14-16). The process of sin begins when a person is drawn away from his godly life by some desire or temptation. When that person chooses to engage in the ungodly desire or temptation, he chooses to sin and becomes spiritually separated from God.
Sometimes we like to place blame for our sins on other people. We would like to think someone else is at fault when we give into temptation. However, when we choose to walk contrary to the word of God, we have no one else to blame but ourselves. While it is true there are direct and indirect influences within our lives working against our faith in God, we must always remember that, in the end, we sin because we choose to sin. If you want to overcome the sin within your life, then you must make the willful decision to say no to temptation and yes to following the Lord to eternity in heaven.