I know cheating isn’t necessarily right, but it will help me get a better grade in this class.
He is soooooooo cute and asked me for a picture. A sexy one won’t hurt. No one else will know.
This movie has some sketchy scenes it it, but I’m watching by myself. It’ll be fine. I can handle it.
Thoughts like these often creep into our minds when an enticing sin presents itself. They’re the thoughts we use to justify a sinful choice we know we probably shouldn’t make.
We could go all the way back to the Garden of Eden and find some of the same justifying thoughts.
In the encounter between Eve and the serpent (a.k.a. Satan), we watch as Eve makes three justifications, convincing herself to eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. And we’re not all that different—because we often buy into the very same lies to justify our sin today.
When the Woman Saw That the Tree Was . . .
Take a minute to read the account from Genesis 3:
Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’”
But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths (vv. 1–7).
Let’s zoom into verse six and process Eve’s three reasonings that “justify” her sin.
1. “I need this!”
Eve saw that the tree was good for food. So she reasoned that eating the fruit would satisfy a need—even though God had expressly forbidden eating it.
Sometimes, sin comes to us under the guise that it will satisfy a need.
Our “need” for sex.
Our “need” for success.
Our “need” to be known.
Our “need” to feel accepted.
Sin might “meet” a need, but it will always leave us dissatisfied, hurting, and searching for more.
Trying to meet our own needs rather than trusting the Lord to meet them will only lead to our destruction, just as it did with Eve.
There is a reason God forbids us from doing certain things, and it is for our protection. God forbid Adam and Eve from the fruit to keep sin from entering the world; they disobeyed, and all of humanity continues to suffer from that decision.
2. “It looks good to me.”
Sin does look good, doesn’t it? The Bible even acknowledges that sin often brings temporary pleasure (Heb. 11:25).
The weekend party pictures splashed on your social media feeds always tell a tale of fun, good times, and adventure.
When I was in high school, I really desired to go to parties and drink; but on Monday morning I would hear stories of bad decisions that were made or of people passed out and not remembering what had happened. Despite its allure, I knew I didn’t want to participate in that type of behavior.
I’ve also talked with girls who have fallen into sexual sin with guys—and sometimes they say, “He was just so hot!” He looked good. He was desirable, and their sin with that boy brought pleasure . . . but only for a season.
No matter how good sin looks—how alluring, how fun, how wild—remember the truth: Ultimately, sin will lead to destruction (Rom. 6:23).
3. “This will help me.”
Eve’s last recorded thought before eating the apple is that it was “to be desired to make one wise” (v. 6).
She believed that eating the fruit would help her in some way. Essentially, she did gain something: the knowledge of good and evil, but at a terrible price that carried astounding consequences.
This train of thought (justification of sin) can also manifest in other ways, like:
- If I plagiarize this paper, I will benefit by getting a better grade.
- If I post this sexy selfie on Instagram, I will benefit by gaining more likes and followers.
- If I drink at this party, it will benefit me socially because I’ll finally be popular.
- If I have sex with him, he will love me more and our relationship will be stronger.
- If I lie a little on my time card, it will benefit me because I’ll have more money.
Yet no matter how beneficial a sin might seem, it only brings destruction.
Scripture is very clear about what sin brings into our lives. It’s not beneficial consequences. It’s death. Sin doesn’t help us. It hurts us.
But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death (James 1:14–15).
Hear me again: There is nothing beneficial about sin.
Sin Only Destroys, but God Forgives
Without God’s help, we’re no different than Eve in the Garden. We give in to our flesh because we think sin will satisfy us . . . because it looks good . . . because maybe it could benefit us . . .
But none of those justifications are true.
If you have been justifying a sin in your life, it’s time to confess it and ask God to keep you from turning back to it again. Sin only destroys, and I desire for our readers to live a victorious life in Christ!
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).
When we repent, God promises to forgive our sin and to cleanse us! And it’s in His will that we find true freedom—not in the painful dead-end of sin.
What are some ways you’ve tried to justify sin in your own life? Tell me about it in the comments.