Who Is Responsible?

When the suspect in the murder case was arrested, he told police that he didn’t do it. This was to be expected but his explanation had a new wrinkle! He claimed that his alter ego, which he calls “Pretty Boy,” overcame him and forced him to repeatedly assault the eleven year old girl and then strangle her with a black cord. He dumped her body under a vacant trailer home near where he was staying.

This incident reminded me of a hospital visit a few years ago. The patient was angry with her nurse and when the nurse came into the room they engaged in a heated exchange which finally resulted in the patient cursing the nurse. When the nurse left, the patient turned to me and said, “Did you see what she did? She made me use the Lord’s name in vain!” The blame game is not new. It has been around since history has recorded man’s actions. When Adam and Eve sinned in the garden the woman said, “The serpent beguiled me and I did eat.” Adam said, “The woman who thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.” Adam was even more inventive than his wife. He blamed her. And then he blamed God, “The woman who THOU gavest to be with me…”

One of the reasons that Alcoholics (or Narcotics) Anonymous has been so successful in treating addiction is that it encourages those being treated to follow a course that is really just a scriptural formula. Listen to the first five of the twelve steps and see if there is not a similarity to Bible instruction. (1)   We admitted we were powerless over our addiction. (2)We came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. (3) Made a decision to turn our lives over to God. (4) Made a searching and fearless inventory of our lives. (5) We admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being, the exact nature of our wrongs. Before there can be any improvement in our lives, we must start by recognizing that we have sinned and confessing publicly that we have done so. When others are blamed, we can never begin the journey toward forgiveness and improvement.

In James 5, the inspired writer is speaking of the power of prayer. In verse 16 he reminds us that “The supplication of a righteous man availeth much in its working.” But just before that, in the same verse, he says, “Confess therefore your sins one to another, and pray for one another that ye may be healed.” This can never happen until we are willing to accept full blame for our shortcomings. No one can make me sin. Someone else may try to get me to sin, but if I succumb to the temptation, I have no one to blame but myself.

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