As a pastor I regularly listened to people give all sorts of reasons and excuses for their sinful conduct. As a parent, I have listened to my children blame everyone else for their sin. In one sense, this is nothing new. Blame shifting first appeared in the Garden of Eden on the heels of Adam and Eve’s sin. Adam blamed God for giving him Eve: “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate” (Gen. 3:12). And Eve blamed the serpent: “The serpent deceive me, and I ate” (Gen. 3:13). When it comes to owning our sins, we are quick to look everywhere else except for the person staring us back in the mirror.
While others can certainly contribute to our sin, at the end of the day, we only have ourselves to blame. James explains the anatomy of sin in the following manner: “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God,’ for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one” (James 1:13). James quickly dismisses the attempt to blame God for our sins. Where does he locate the origin of our sin? James writes: “But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death” (James 1:14-15, emphasis added). James locates the origins of sin within our own hearts, not outside of us. We cannot blame anyone but ourselves for our sin, period. So what’s a person to do?
I’m serious when I say, the biggest threat to my sanctification is the person who stares back at me in the mirror. I regularly pray, “Oh Lord, please protect me from myself. Please sanctify my desires so they conform to your will, not my own.” Recognize that you are your own worst enemy. If you can acknowledge this truth, you’ll make greater progress in your growth in grace.