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This topic is adapted from the PursueGOD Video YouTube channel.

Sin a seemingly insurmountable challenge every Christian faces daily. While confronting sin is important, Christians also need to be aware of how they respond to sin. When sin rears its head, two paths are placed before each person. One road leads to more healthy responses after falling short, and the other to sinful responses to sin. Let’s break this down into ten different negative responses to sin.

[Related: The Difference Between Good Guilt and Bad Guilt]

Minimizing Sin

This is probably one of the most common sinful responses to sin. When sin occurs, nothing is easier than saying, “It’s no big deal.” It’s so much simpler to ignore immoral behavior by believing that the sin was so small that it didn’t really matter. Remember these tiny acts can stack up and become huge problems. Dismissing little sins can be a gateway to dismissing larger immoral acts or even forgetting that they even happen. Becoming numb or apathetic toward sin is spiritually dangerous.

Legitimizing Sin

It can be tempting to do something bad because you believe that something good will come of it. Don’t get caught thinking God will approve of sin just because it may have a positive outcome eventually. Doing the wrong thing for the right reason is still sin, and trying to legitimize sin can turn into a bad habit. The apostle Paul spoke about this in Romans 6:1-2, reminding us of our freedom from sin and warning us not to voluntarily submit to it again.

Rationalizing Sin

Have you ever told yourself that you had a good reason for what you did? Maybe you blew up at a friend or coworker but they deserved it for treating you poorly? You sinned a little, but you wouldn’t have done that if they hadn’t pushed you. Sound familiar?

Rationalizing sin is a dangerous game to play. It’s also a pretty easy one. Almost anything can be rationalized away if the human mind is determined to feel innocent. God has given us consciences for a reason, and the habit of explaining away our sin goes against it. When sin happens, own it. No one wins or becomes a better person unless sin is a catalyst for positive change.

[Related: Humanity Under Sin | Bible Basics for New Believers #5]

Blame-Shifting

“It’s not my fault. I didn’t do it. He made me. She made me.” Blame-shifting is as destructive as any response to sin.

Blame-shifting demonstrates a serious lack of responsibility for one’s actions. When Christians make mistakes, they are called to first and foremost confess and ask for forgiveness from the Lord. Secondly, Christians need to make amends with others if the situation warrants it. This can’t be done if responsibility for the sin is shifted elsewhere. Think about the story of Adam and Eve for a perfect picture of this scenario. Adam pointed at Eve, Eve pointed at the serpent, and no one took responsibility. (See Genesis 3:11-13.)

Diversionary Tactics

Creating a humorous environment after sin has occurred can seem like an innocent way to deflect a difficult situation. However, if sin always becomes a joke, than it is probably not being dealt with properly. Using humor or any tactic to divert attention away from your sin will never lead to a better you. Avoid diversionary tactics and deal with sin head on. You are never alone in the fight. God is your constant companion.

Partial Confession

Do you ever find yourself trying to do the right thing, but only doing 80% of the right thing? Or do you confess your sin while painting yourself in a positive light? Christians don’t grow or heal from partial confession. Confessing a portion of your sin may alleviate some guilt, but it won’t bring you closer to God. Only a full and honest confession can bring about true restoration.

Worldly Grief

God doesn’t grieve the same way the world does. Apologies are a dime a dozen, but genuine grief over what someone has done is rare. Worldly grief is first of all self-serving and second of all ingenuine. If you express grief because you got caught, that’s not godly grief. Regretting an action because it had negative consequences is not the same as expressing grief at having sinned at all. True biblical grief leads you away from sin. (2 Corinthians 7:10.)

Victimization

For some, sin becomes a pattern accompanied by a victim mentality. They believe they can’t help it and it’s just how they are. Many Christians entangle themselves in this victim mentality, granting undue authority to their sin. Stating aloud that you can’t help doing something is essentially letting your sin control you. There are times when our sin does truly feel impossible to overcome. In these times of doubt and desperation, look to Jesus for strength and do not become a victim of sin.

Mere Confession

Merely confessing to wrongdoing isn’t enough. A part of God’s plan for restoration and healing, but there is more to it. First confess, then turn away from that sin. Christians can confess and ask for forgiveness all day long, but this needs to be followed by the desire and will to turn the other way. Being truly repentant and sorry for wrong behavior will lead away from sin, not into repeating it.

[Related: Don’t Lose Your Reward | Warning Signs #7]

Codifying Sin

To codify sin means to give it a name and assign it power over you. This could be calling it a disease or giving your sin some identity that you can claim you have no ability to control. With God, nothing holds ultimate authority over you but God. This is not to say we won’t struggle or suffer. But we can’t give in to the mentality that our sin is okay because it’s habitual, socially normalized, or an unfortunate, constant companion.

[Related: Situational Good vs. Ultimate Good]

The frequency and pervasiveness of sin can be overwhelming to any Christian. While we may never be able to stop sinning from time-to-time, we can control our responses to sin and more and more give our lives over to Jesus Christ and the power of his Holy Spirit.

Written content for this topic by Jesse Price.

[Related Category: Addiction]

Discussion Questions:

  1. Watch the video together or invite someone to summarize the topic.
  2. What is your initial reaction to this video? Do you disagree with any of it? What jumped out at you?
  3. Which of these ten responses have you seen in others? Explain.
  4. Read Romans 6:1-2. Have you ever tried to legitimize your sin? What was the result?
  5. Read Genesis 3:11-13. Who did the blame-shifting here, and what was the result?
  6. Read 2 Corinthians 7:10. What is the difference between “worldly grief” and “godly grief?”
  7. Which of these ten responses do you need to watch out for in your life? Explain.
  8. Write a personal action step based on this conversation.

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