When We Justify Bad Behavior
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. James 1:22 ESV
Do you remember the first time you sinned after salvation? I do. I felt as though a knife had passed through my heart. As children of God, we are all acquainted with this feeling. It is the conviction of the Holy Spirit.
We can choose to respond to conviction in humility. But what happens when we justify what we did, thereby turning our backs on true repentance? Two things. First, we position ourselves to repeat the same act of disobedience. Second, a veil of deception covers our hearts, thereby lessening the sense of conviction and replacing it with reasoning.
Jesus said, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me” (Matthew 16:24 World English Bible).
Some concentrate on the cross as representing a life of sacrifice. However, in Jesus’s statement, sacrifice is not the only focus. You can live a life of self-denial and sacrifice and not fulfill God’s purpose or will. In fact, you can choose self-denial and sacrifice and still be in rebellion to God!
The focus of Jesus’s words is obedience. Without the death of our own agendas, we will eventually encounter a face-off between the will of God and the desires of man. If we do not lay down our lives, we will find a way of fulfilling desires that are contrary to His, and we will even use Scriptures to justify our actions.
I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me. John 5:30 NKJV
Do any of us know more than God? Of course we don’t! But when we disobey, that is the message we communicate. When we ignore God’s counsel, we exalt the wisdom of mere men above His.
Can you remember a time when you disobeyed God, knowing it was against His will? Or perhaps you can’t remember the last time you consulted God in any of your decisions. Spend time in prayer this week and ask the Holy Spirit to guide your response to every opportunity, decision, and thought that comes your way. Let’s choose to be people who trust God more than we trust the wisdom of this world!
Adapted from Under Cover: The Promise of Protection Under His Authority (Thomas Nelson, 2001)