The Difference Between Reasons and Excuses

bible excuses reasons
1 John 1:8

There are always reasons why we sin, but there is never an excuse. In a day and age where everyone who attends high school is required to take a course in Psychology 101, where you can turn on the TV and watch Dr. Phil do a live counseling session, and where every behavioral problem in children is apparently linked back to a genetic problem solvable by medication, we are a society prone to look for the “root issue of the problem.”

It’s certainly not wrong to take a deeper look at how someone was raised, what genetic dispositions they may have, or how society has negatively shaped an individual. The Bible itself makes clear that bad actions (sin) are rooted not in the surface decisions being made but deeper, in the sinful nature (Galatians 5:17).

Paul goes as far to say that when we become a new creation in Christ and then sin, it is no longer the real us who sin but the sinful nature living in our bodies (Romans 7:18-20). Ephesians 2:1-3 and 2 Timothy 2:26 state that unbelievers are actually being held captive by Satan’s lies. Matthew 6:13 states that Satan has the power to tempt people, even believers. 1 John 2:15-17 and Proverbs 13:20 explain that the world we live in has a direct influence on the way we behave. The point is that the Bible gives many reasons for why sin happens.

Here’s the difference between what the world often does and what the Bible does: When the Bible explains the root issue of sins and problems, it is stating the reason why sin happened. When the world explains the root issue of sins and problems, it is pointing to these “deeper problems” as excuses for the sins.

A reason is identifying the cause and bringing to light an explanation for how things happened. An excuse is identifying the cause for how things happened with the hope of lessening the blame and consequences for one’s actions.

There is value in seeing the reason for a problem so you can then seek to stop it from happening again. Identifying the reasons for sin helps us to not sin again in the same way. For example, to realize that my sinful nature took over should cause me to spend more time seeking to be filled with Spirit so the Spirit is in control of my life. To realize you are more tempted late at night when you are tired should cause you to better fight sin by realizing the importance of getting rest in the Lord.

However, there is not value in making excuses for sins because when it comes to rebellion, God does not excuse it no matter what the reason for sin was. He either wipes it clean with the blood of Christ or he lets it remain and the sinner is responsible for paying the penalty.

Uzzah put out his hand to hold up the ark because it was falling over (2 Samuel 6:6), Adam ate the fruit because Eve gave him some (Genesis 3:12), and Eve ate the fruit because she was deceived by Satan (Genesis 3:13). These are reasons, not excuses. God did not excuse any of these people from their sin.

There’s always a reason, always a back story, always some unfortunate temptation that tripped us up; and while it’s important to recognize the reason why you sinned so you can better avoid it in the future through God’s grace, the reason why you sinned will never change the fact that you sinned.

God did not send Jesus to give us a Psychological diagnosis so we can all have a thorough understanding of everything in our childhoods and genes that make us sin. He sent Christ to pay for our sin and make us into a new creation with a new heart so we have the ability to follow Christ and reject sin.

We must find the reasons so we do not sin the same way again, we must repent, and we must fully rely on the blood of Christ to redeem us. But we must never make excuses.

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Mark Ballenger is the writing ministry of Mark Ballenger. To reach Mark, send him an email anytime:

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