Self-Justification and Avoidance of Responsibility

Genesis 3:12  

Then the man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate.”

After their sin of taking of the forbidden fruit and subsequently hiding from the presence of God, Adam and Eve are confronted by God in the garden. When God finds the couple hiding in the garden and asks Adam why they are hiding, his response is that they were “naked” (verse 10).

This shows that something had fundamentally changed in their relationship with their Creator. Sin had resulted in the couple hiding from their Creator because they were naked and “afraid,” instead of innocently interacting with Him. When God confronts them about their eating of the forbidden fruit, Adam blames his wife Eve for his decision to rebel and eat the fruit. Eve, likewise, blames her sin on the serpent (verse 13).

As we covered previously, Adam and Eve’s sin set humanity on a specific course. The basic mistakes and attitudes they demonstrated have been repeated by mankind for 6,000 years of human history. The tendency demonstrated here—refusing to take responsibility for personal sin through self-justification—has become a hallmark of human beings’ approach to their own faults (Proverbs 20:6; 21:2). Like our first parents, we often refuse to take responsibility for our sins. Instead of admitting that our sins and failings are our fault, we try to place the responsibility on others.

Rather than self-justification, we should be developing the habit of genuine repentance toward God. We are told not to deny our sins because that is just deceiving ourselves (1 John 1:8). Instead, we are to “confess our sins [to God], [because] He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (verse 9).

King David is a good example of what our approach should be after we sin. Psalm 51 is an excellent study of the antithesis to Adam’s response to his sins. When we sin, we should:

  • Take full responsibility for our sins (Psalm 51:3).
  • Acknowledge that ultimately all our sins are against God (verse 4) for breaking His law (1 John 3:4).
  • Understand that God wants repentance from the inside out, not mere outward penance (Psalm 51:6).
  • Specifically ask for mercy and forgiveness (verses 1-2) through the blood of Jesus Christ (1 John 1:7).
  • Ask God to help us change through the power of the Holy Spirit so we can overcome our sins and grow in righteousness (Psalm 51:10-12).

The good news is that we can personally escape the pattern of behavior started by Adam and Eve. Study the entire chapter of Psalm 51 for more insight into what the proper response to sin should be.

To learn more about how to properly repent of sin, read “How to Repent.”

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