Quitting the Blame Game
I do a lot of marriage counseling. One thing that is a constant in marriage counseling is the blame game. She blames him for her bad feelings, he blames her for his anger. As people who are extremely selfish and self-centered, we are always looking for people to blame for our sin. We follow the pattern of our spiritual parents Adam and Eve and the example we see in Genesis 3 when God confronts Adam for his sin. Adam blames Eve and God, and Eve blames the serpent for their disobedience and fall. God does not want us to blame others or anything else for our sin. We are to accept responsibility for following our evil desires. James 1:13 – 15 makes it clear that we are tempted because we are tempt-able.
Spiritual Struggle of Temptation
Temptation is an issue of the heart. We wrongly believe we are too good to sin (which is pride) and so we must blame others for our actions. Our sin begins internally with our thoughts, beliefs, and desires. Sometimes it is provoked by some external stimuli but there is always an opportunity for us to take the way of escape (1 Corinthians 10 – 13) before we sin. These temptations are used by God to make us stronger (James 1:12) when we respond to them properly. Temptations are primarily a spiritual struggle that we experience in the body (Ephesians 6:12; 1 John 2:16).
Four Step Exit Strategy
One of my college professors, Dr. Bill Hines (who co-wrote an excellent book titled, Curing the Heart), provides an exit strategy for when we are tempted or tested. This exit strategy can apply to every temptation we face. I have outlined the strategy for you here: Step One is to pray and ask God to deliver us from the evil one (Matthew 6:13). That is a non-negotiable response. Prayer should always be the first response, but too often, it is the step of last resort. Step Two is to accept responsibility in stopping the temptation before it matures into full-blown sin (James 1:14). This takes place in your mind/heart. It is our responsibility to be renewed in our minds (Romans 12:2) to recognize sinful desires are present. Step Three is an outflow of a renewed mind, and is a proper response to temptation. Romans 12:14 – 21 and Ephesians 4:24 – 27 help us to have a focus on putting off sinful thoughts, beliefs, desires, and actions and putting on righteous ones in their place. Step Four is another action step: We must flee the temptation and act in accordance with the word of God (Ephesians 4:24 – 27).
This is a process that is accomplished by faith through obedience to the Word of God and through dependence upon the Holy Spirit. God will help us to understand our pattern of sin and temptation, and the Holy Spirit will help us to enact the exit strategy to avoid sin (James 1:17).
Write these steps out, and commit them to memory. The next time you are tempted to engage in blaming someone else for your sin, ask the Lord to help you recall what you have memorized, and act on it! It is not enough to be a hearer of the Word. Be a doer as well.