|What are the greatest obstacles in your ministry, marriage or just moving forward? It’s ironic, but when I pose that question to people, it’s not unusual for them to point the finger at circumstances, the past, other people or just family stress. The harder ministry, marriage or life becomes, the more we think about the causes of our problems through the actions or omissions of others. We don’t color ourselves into the picture. It’s a hard-wiring problem that goes back all the way back to the Garden of Eden.
When Adam and Eve bought Satan’s lies and bit the fruit, both were sinning; both were dead wrong. But they didn’t own their wrong before God. The gears of guilt shifted with no clutch. Sin introduced a device into creation called “blame-shifting”; a lever the heart pulls where we substitute others as the cause for why we do not obey God as we should. Adam pioneered its use by tossing the woman (and God!) under the bus, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit from the tree” (Gen. 3:12, emphasis mine).
The first man’s clever evasion shows us how sin scrambles to shift moral responsibility. When sin knocks, we see guilt everywhere except in the mirror. And our ultimate insanity is that we convince ourselves that we’re victims of God’s decisions. It’s like Adam was saying, “God, may I remind you that it was the woman you gave me. YOU created this mess!”
You see, sins insidious attack is not first on marriage or human unity, but upon “moral agency”. Sin erases it. Original sin seeks to relocate us in the world as passive victims, always being acted upon by other sinners. It seeks to convince us: Your biggest problem is not your sin. Your biggest problem is that you are sinned-against. By everyone! No one, in fact, treats you as you deserve. None love you the way you truly need love. You are not sinful like them. You are actually a victim.
Does that define you at all? Of course it does. It defines me too. None of us are exempt. It’s why we desperately need a Savior!
The Gospel Solves the Garden
Jesus did not die just because we have been sinned against. This is not to say God is ambivalent about it—more on that in a minute. But our primary problem—the fundamental issue that placed us at enmity with God—was not other people’s sin. This is why the good news of the gospel actually starts with bad news: We are loved by God but stuck in sin. And we can’t solve that problem. And our sin towards God is far worse than any way we have been sinned against. In fact, our sin is so bad, it took the blood of God to remove it.
Paul saw it. That’s why he wrote, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost” (1 Tim. 1:15).
God is not ambivalent about the ways we have been victimized. He is a Just God and there is a judgement coming. But if we want our life and leadership to be marked by gospel growth, we must first agree with how God’s Word defines us. Being sinned against is significant when it happens, but it is not the cause of our biggest problem. Our biggest problem remains sin. But our precious Redeemer shed his blood to provide the solution. Honestly facing this truth and owning it becomes a defining moment in moving forward in life.
Tenacious Tuesday Questions
As you face this day, where are you tempted to think of yourself as a passive victim being acted upon by others? When was the last time you were convicted of sin? How about the last time you confessed sin? Confessing sin is a great indication that we see ourselves in need of a Savior.
Lord, I too am the worst of sinners. Thank you for sending your son to atone for the sin that I committed. Help me to live aware today that I need you and to flee to you where I see myself as a sinner.failure and response, ask yourself, What good might God be doing in your heart through this?