Entry Level Theological Truth [34]

“Then the man said, ‘The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate.’ And the Lord God said to the woman, ‘What is this you have done?’ The woman said, ‘The serpent deceived me, and I ate.’ So the Lord God said to the serpent: ‘Because you have done this, You are cursed more than all cattle, And more than every beast of the field; On your belly you shall go, And you shall eat dust All the days of your life.” Genesis 3:12-14

Husband and wife fightingThe present era ought to be branded the “No-Fault Age,” for the amount of ceding of personal responsibility that one sees at every level of society. “Passing the buck” is a lifestyle for many people. Accused criminals so frequently defend themselves by arguing that they are a product of their environment that it has become a cliche. The thinking seems to be: “I couldn’t help robbing that bank, I was from a poor neighborhood,” or “I was abused by parents/teachers/coaches, etc. therefore I committed this crime.”

It is rare to hear someone publicly or privately say: “I have no one but myself to blame; it’s my fault”; and to hear public figures openly say: “I’ve sinned” is virtually unheard of (far be it from anyone to use the “S” word – i.e. SIN; that would be bad form and might irrevocably damage someone’s self-esteem!)

In light of the ubiquitous human tendency towards self-justification and denial, this article will not argue that our problems are all the fault of our first parents. Responding to the question “what is wrong with the world?”, Chesterton famously retorted: “Dear Sirs, I am. Sincerely yours, G.K. Chesterton.”1 While I heartily disagree with Chesterton’s theology otherwise, I concur here, agreeing: “Yes, I am part of the problem; I am a sinner whose sins put the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross.”

Having said that, the age-old technique of excusing oneself at the expense of others goes all the way back to Adam and Eve in the Garden.

 


The Blame Game



 

When God confronted the first human couple regarding their disobedience through incisive questioning, Adam immediately cast the blame upon his beloved mate (oh, that he were the last husband to have done such a thing!) Bonar describes the root idea of this action:

He accuses others to screen himself. He does not hesitate to inculpate the dearest; he spares not the wife of his bosom. Rather than bear the blame, he will fling it anywhere, whoever may suffer. And all this in a moment! How instantaneous are the results of sin! Already it has rooted out affection, and broken the nearest tie, and made man a being of dark selfishness. He has ceased to ‘love his neighbour as himself.’ Self has now risen uppermost within him. He is steeled against his dearest of kin. He does not hesitate to expose them to the wrath of God; he cares not what their doom may be, provided he escape! ‘Hateful, and hating one another,’ is the inscription on the forehead of our fallen race. It is this that we here read upon the brow of Adam.2

Another commentator agrees, saying: “My brethren, behold sin, corrupting the most intimate and the purest affections. See that monstrous selfishness, which withers in the root the most generous feelings of the heart, brought into existence, and become the moving principle of human life! Let all around me be humbled and confounded, so that my pride be satisfied! Let even that which I most love be stricken before my eyes, so that I escape! Let all perish, so that I live!”3 Rather than take personal responsibility, Adam blames Eve, and leaves her exposed to the wrath of the Judge. Thankfully, the Lord knows all and is able to mete out just punishment to all parties concerned (Genesis 3:14-17); He is not mislead when humans absolve themselves at others expense.

 


God In The Dock



 

By blaming Eve, Adam indirectly indicted the Almighty as an accomplice in the crime. The inference is: “If you had given me a better wife – or perhaps no wife at all – I would not have eaten of the fruit.” Bonnet’s thinly-veiled incredulity pours forth in these words:

What! the companion whom God had given him to complete his happiness, saying, ‘It is not good that man should be alone;’ the being who was destined to unite with him in loving, adoring, and worshipping the same God—that God who had surrounded him with so much felicity; Eve is now, in the mouth of guilty man, a subject of reproach to his God! If we have seen, that from selfishness to hatred, there is but one step, we now see that hatred, pushed on by pride, never fails to pour forth blasphemy! What an awful fall! What deplorable effects of sin!4

In like manner, another teacher paints this sinful strategy paraphrasing Adam’s absurd suggestion: “‘Thou saidst it was not good for me to be alone; but it seems now it had been better for me to have been alone; for if thou hadst either left me without a wife, or given me a better, I should have done well enough.’ Thus doth one sin beget another. The foolishness of man perverteth his way, and his heart fretteth against the Lord. Proverbs 19:3.”5 It is hubris indeed to convert God’s goodness into an excuse for sin, yet many people still blame their Creator for their problems and personal errors.

 


Denying The Obvious



 

Listening to her spiritual leader evade blame, the woman demonstrated herself to be a quick learner by likewise throwing the culpability on someone else: the serpent. As Henry summarizes it: “He followed her example in sinning, and she followed his example in excusing it.” The serpent is given no chance to reply, or else he doubtless would have denied responsibility as well. Modern readers have no room to point the finger, for who among them has not blamed someone else for their own sins?

Many people deny that they sin at all, but God is not fooled by such outrageous claims (1 John 1:8, 10.) In light of God’s omniscience and the inevitability of His righteous judgment (Hebrews 9:27), the only reasonable course for individuals is to confess their sin, refrain from blaming others, and receive the divine mercy that flows from receiving Christ as Lord and Savior. Only the One who died as a sacrifice for sin and rose again in victory may free people from guilt and eternal punishment (Jnohn 3:36; 5:24; Romans 8:1.)

 

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Image from http://blog.hillsbiblechurch.org/2011/01/24/stop-pointing-the-finger-at-others-look-in-the-mirror/ Accessed on 8/3/12.

1 G.K. Chesterton, quoted here: http://www.booksshouldbefree.com/book/whats-wrong-with-the-world-by-gk-chesterton Accessed on 8/3/12.

2 Horatius Bonar, Earth’s Morning: Or, Thoughts on Genesis, (New York: Robert Carter & Brothers, 1875), pp. 147f.

3 L. Bonnet, The Exile from Eden; Meditations on the Third Chapter of Genesis, With Exegetical Developments, trans. W. Hare, (London: James Nisbet and Co., 1839), pp. 121-22.

4 Ibid, p. 122.

5 Philip Henry, Exposition of the First Eleven Chapters of Genesis, (London: J. Nisbet and Co., 1839), pp. 77-78.

6 Ibid, p. 78.

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