Common Excuses That We Make to Avoid True Repentance: Read and Reflect
Adapted from “Gospel Identity” ©2006 World Harvest Mission
What do we hope to gain by using these types of excuses for our sin? Are we not trying protect some inner performance, some proof that we are good and acceptable and significant?
Underneath every sinful act is a sinful motivation. A “why I did that” that is rooted in the affections of the heart, in what we want and are striving to obtain. To put it another way, sinful deeds are the surface sins, but they have a root which is seeking to find water (life) through that sinful act. The pressures of life, such as suffering or stress, draw our hearts to search for water, but we are often deceived to look for it in broken cisterns that cannot hold any water instead of turning to the fountain of living water, Jesus.
This is becoming more and more apparent in the growing stresses of family life during these stay-at-home orders. Being squeezed together with other sinners into a tighter emotional space, with fewer "release valves" provided by the distance of work or school, has brought these deep inner affections to the surface with a vengeance. Rather than seek the Lord for help and humbly repenting when we strike out at others or let others down, we work to defend our turf, believing that our "being right" or "being good" or "being lovable" will provide the life worth living. Yet, when we don't perform well enough, or when others tell us that we haven't, we have nothing left upon which to presume a life worth living.
This is not new. For example, read the following passages and see the relationship between the surface sin, the root desire, and the pressure of life. After reading and examining each of these, find another example in the Scriptures and add it to the comment section.
Those “root affections” are sometimes labelled “idols of the heart”. They are those things that act as God-replacements. So, we are tempted to entrust ourselves to them because we believe they will grant us a life worth living. Therefore, we act to appease them, to impress them, to obey them, to sacrifice time and resources to them in order to obtain their promised blessings.
They promise the same things as God: comfort, peace, life, blessing, joy, significance, but in counterfeit. They are like drinking seawater. Two things happen when you drink saltwater trying to quench your thirst. First, you get thirstier. Second, you go crazy. Idols of the heart are like that. For example, a significant cultural idol of our hearts is sexual pleasure. We are tempted to entrust ourselves to it, believing that obtaining it will bring us ultimate satisfaction, ultimate joy, a real life worth living. We sacrifice much to that idol in order to obtain it, believing (wrongly, being deceived) that sexual pleasure will deliver. Or, another major idol of the heart is comfort. We believe that if we are comfortable we will have life worth living, so anything which threatens our comfort becomes something to be killed, sacrificed to the idol, or we won't obtain a life worth living. But, pursuing these things only warps our view of reality and makes us more thirsty for those things.
How does it warp our view of reality?
Well, for starters, something that was once deemed appalling to us gradually becomes more acceptable, then fully pursued. Nobody starts doing drugs because they want to destroy their family and wander the streets being used and abused by others for their next fix. It starts with a small justification, but by that deception we become the ones being owned and controlled and used.
Worse still, such pursuits only leaves us wanting; the more you drink, the thirstier you become, yet we pursue it even harder. An idol is simply a lie, a deception. It is false god. False. It can only lie. It promises life, but only brings death (1 Sam 12:20-21; Jonah 2:8). Only the living Lord can bless us and fill us with life, the water of Life which quenches our deepest thirsts so that we are not ruled by an insane pursuit of controlling our own lives and the lives of those around us.
Think about behaviors or words which you regret this week. How have you seen root affections like these drive those behaviors and words?
What were you wanting when you acted out the surface sin? What were you trying to achieve (what would have made you happy if you had received it in that moment)?
How does Jesus promise the quenching of that desire in Himself?