Why Do We Sin? – L.O. Sanderson

L.O. Sanderson

A careful study of the Scriptures relative to sin will reveal that it is any thought or desire, word or action, digression or transgression, by commission or omission, that is contrary to the will of God. We cannot determine the degree of guilt, nor which sin may be greater, for God does not judge in harmony with the attitudes and standards of men. We may state confidently, however, that the little sins, so called, will undoubtedly be our greater barriers to eternal salvation, since so many are guilty of them. Still, our problem is not to prove that all men “have sinned, and come short of the glory of God,” nor that the “wages of sin is death,” for these are indisputable truths; rather, Why do we sin? If, as in medical science, we may determine the cause, we may not only control it, but also remove it far from us.

May we first examine what does not cause sin?

God does not cause us to sin. The very character of God, his opposition to sin, and his merciful efforts to blot it from remembrance, make it unreasonable to charge him with cause. Even in the days of Mosaic principles, when Israel had committed divers sins, petty and otherwise, God made known through Jeremiah that they could not even think that Jehovah delivered them unto such (Jer. 7:9,10). It may be urged that God tests his children, and that such trials were made of Abraham and others, but there is a vast difference between trial and temptation—God may try, but he never tempts to sin. “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man” (Jas. 1:13). In fact, every evil appeal is traceable to the world itself and not to God. “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but of the world” (1 John 2:15-16).

Temptation is not the direct cause of sin. Jesus Christ demonstrated this fact. He was “in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Heb. 4:15). Our temptations are common, and the extent of their influence is not permitted beyond our ability to withstand.

There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (1 Cor. 10:13).

These bounds, of course, are not the will of the evil one—in fact, Satan chaffed under the restrictions respecting job. God is the creator of the “hedge”; while he wills that we shall be free moral agents, serving whom we choose, he leads us beside still waters and suffers no temptation beyond our powers to bear.

It is Satan who tempts to sin. Satan is altogether evil, and desires that all shall walk in darkness. To make men fall from the grace of God is his delight. Why should not sin be attributed to him? This evil one “stood up against Israel” (cf. 1 Chron. 21:1). It was he who “desired to have” Peter that he might “sift” him as wheat (Luke 22:31). He appears “as an angel of light” (2 Cor. 11:14), as a “wolf in sheep’s clothing” (cf. Matt. 7:15), as a subtle “serpent” (2 Cor. 11:3), or as a “roaring lion” seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8). In every case he is the promoter of the influence that leads men away from God. It is he that plans the temptation and directs its effects. He is the source of evil. He tempts to sin.

However, Satan is not wholly responsible. While Satan tempts to sin, he cannot force the response. Christ was tempted in all points even as we, and yet without sin—a positive proof of Satanic bounds. Our temptations are common— the unusual is lacking; an escape is always possible. If we “resist the devil, he will flee” from us. If we meet him with the word of God, as did Christ, ours shall be victory over him. Satan may hinder, but a crown awaits the faithful.

We are responsible for our sins. We may love “the praise of men more than the praise of God,” and we are chargeable for that false love. We may love darkness because our deeds are evil, but we are not forced to evil deeds. Every persuasion is against them. We “eat the bread of wickedness, and drink the wine of violence” because we prefer such. God leads away from sin; Satan can only go so far in temptation; and the only reason that we sin is that we respond to it while we are still able to bear! And who is to blame for our response? “Every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death” (Jas. 1:14-15).

Thus the real responsibility is not with the tempter, it is with us! The cause is not in Satan; it is in us! We are “drawn away” and “enticed”—not so much by the cunning subtlety and skill of the evil one, but because of our own unregulated, intemperate desire, the ambition of our own wisdom, the vanity of our own pride, the lusts of our own ill-controlled hearts, and the blindness of our own souls to the inevitable results. The power or temptation to promote response lies more particularly in some weakness on our part of which the prince of this world takes advantage. It is but the case of history repeating itself—a sensual spark, quickened by some apparent external advantage or trifling pleasure, is flamed into a blaze of longing after that which is forbidden, and which, though forbidden, we stretch forth to acquire. The desire for power, for position, for gold, for fleshly joys, will, when encouraged or even permitted, often translate us into hypocritical politicians, social egotists, selfish ingrates and carnal reprobates.

Do not be lured as a bird to a trap. Human impulses, though weak at first, grow stronger even with toleration; and, if created or courted, will result in acts of ungodliness; and “the wages of sin is death”! The very fact that wages are paid for sin is indicative of personal responsibility. Human laws reckon man accountable for his transgressions, and mete out discipline in harmony with estimated guilt. Nature inflicts suffering on those who violate the laws of health. God holds man responsible for his sins, else punishment for sin is unjust.

Let us feel keenly the responsibility that we be not overtaken in a fault, and that we resist the tempter always, for he cannot tempt us beyond our own power to resist. By this we shall control the cause of sin, and therefore remove its bitterness from us. Through the blood of Christ and our own response, at least all else will be forgiven.

   Send article as PDF   

Author: Editor

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *