Mastering Sin

Why did he do it? That seems to be the question that’s asked when someone does something “out of character” or even horrific.

What led a man to kill 58 people in the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history? According to an article in this morning’s paper, investigators are working around the clock, looking for clues that would point to his motive. Authorities have resorted to putting up billboards seeking tips, and now scientists are preparing to do a microscopic study of his brain. Experts admit if disease or abnormalities are found, it would be false science to conclude they caused or even contributed to the massacre, but still they want to have an extensive look.

Looking for physical, or even psychological reasons behind sinful acts can, however, easily degenerate into excuse making, and open the door for the justification of sin. Our attempts to find reasons for sinful activity may have advanced technologically, but they actually began in the garden, and after the first act of violence in human history.

When confronted with their sin, Eve pointed to the snake, and Adam pointed both to his wife and to God Himself. Neither wanted to take personal responsibility for their sin. And when Cain killed Abel because he was angry that God had accepted his brother’s offering but not his, he refused to heed God’s instruction on how to deal with his emotions. God told him that if he would do what was right his depression would be lifted, and he would find acceptance with God. He also warned him that sin was crouching at his door, and told him that he had to master it.

Years ago, while in training to be a biblical counselor, I was warned about allowing psychological problems to be put into a medical model. That if we start looking for medical reasons for aberrant behavior we not only excuse it, we actually make the person the victim of something that is beyond their control, something they’re not responsible for, something that requires a professional to fix.

That’s not to deny that there can be contributing factors behind our behavior, and that understanding them may help us get a handle on our problems. But the bottom line is that God expects us to master sin, and He has given us the resources to do so.

God Bless, Rick

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