Who Is Responsible for Sin?

by Jeffrey W. Hamilton

Text: Ezekiel 18:4-20


I.         A number of years ago, I couldn’t find a parking space in our lot because of some school function across the street. I finally found a spot on the side of one street among many other cars and walked to the building. When I came out, there was a ticket on the window of my car for illegally parking.

            A.        Whose fault was it?

                        1.         The parents who didn’t leave me a spot in the lot?

                        2.         The school for holding a popular function?

                        3.         The other cars who were illegally parked?

                        4.         The officer for noticing my car was in the wrong place?

                        5.         The town for making a good parking space illegal?

            B.        Isn’t it really my fault for not knowing where I could park and not noticing the sign warning not to park where I did?

            C.        There is no end of people we can blame for our problems, but usually the truth is that my problems are due to my bad choices.

II.        “I didn’t ask to be born!”

            A.        True. You can’t ask something that doesn’t exist if it would like to exist.

            B.        Not one of our parents asked our permission before we were conceived and brought into this world.

            C.        But people who say things like this are saying they don’t want the responsibilities of life.

                        1.         They figure if they hadn’t agreed, then they can’t be held responsible

                        2.         The fact that it is impossible to get such an agreement doesn’t matter to them.

                        3.         But then, God isn’t holding us responsible for existing.

                        4.         We are responsible for the things we do – the things we decide - II Corinthians 5:10

III.       “God made man imperfect”

            A.        Before examining the case of man, let us look at another part of God’s creation: Angels

                        1.         Angels are not of the physical world, but the spiritual - Hebrews 1:14

                        2.         While they serve God, God did not make them such as they had no choice - Jude 6

                        3.         Please note that all angels, including Satan started off righteous, but some quickly deviated from the truth - Revelation 12:7-9

                        4.         Whose fault is it that the angels rebelled?

                                    a.         Is it God’s because He gave them the gift of choice?

                                    b.         No. An honest answer is that it was their own fault. The ability to choose did not force Satan to make bad decisions.

                        5.         Because they are responsible for their choice, God is just is delivering the consequences of those choices.

            B.        Like angels, and unlike animals, man is created with spirits that have independent choice - Genesis 1:27

                        1.         We have instinctive programming like the animals, but we don’t have to follow our instincts.

                        2.         Unlike angels, we were placed in the physical realm, but it is temporary.

                        3.         Like angels we start out righteous - Ecclesiastes 7:29

                        4.         Because we have true choice, we also bear the responsibility of the choices we make

            C.        “But we all sin. It must have been a flawed design!”

                        1.         It is true that everyone eventual succumbs to sin in some way at some time - Romans 3:23

                        2.         But does that relieve us of our responsibility? - Ezekiel 18:20

                        3.         What is overlooked is that we don’t all sin all the time, nor that we all sin in the same way.

                                    a.         Name any sin and there are thousands who never committed that particular sin.

                                    b.         The fact that all sin can be resisted, means none of us have to sin.

                        4.         One of the interesting puzzles in the study of human behavior is how children raised in the same or similar households can make drastically different choices in their lives.

                                    a.         People are always trying to find reasons why people have to make certain choices.

                                    b.         The search is flawed because no one has to make any choice.

                                    c.         A child raised in a bad environment will generally tend to make bad choices – but not always.

                                    d.         A child raised in a good environment will generally tend to make good choices – but not always.

IV.      “A perfect God would not have allowed sin”

            A.        It is true that without law there can be no sin

                        1.         Sin is the breaking of law - I John 3:4

                        2.         With nothing to break, you can’t sin - Romans 5:13

                        3.         But then people would have no true choice

            B.        In order for people to truly have the gift of independent choice, there must be the possibility to make the wrong choice

                        1.         God didn’t tempt man with sin - James 1:13

                        2.         God gave man the choice of whether to be righteous

            C.        “Well, Satan shouldn’t have been allowed in.”

                        1.         Satan did not force the man and woman to break the law. He did not stuff the fruit in their mouths while they slept

                        2.         Eve was deceived by Satan, but Adam knew he was breaking the law - I Timothy 2:14

                        3.         So who is responsible? Satan for giving them bad ideas, and Adam and Eve for breaking the law.

V.        God actually has given mankind a bigger break than the angels

            A.        He limits Satan - I Corinthians 10:13

            B.        He is willing to forget the past - Ezekiel 18:21-24

                        1.         He can do this because it isn’t biased toward the wicked or the righteous. It is impartial

            C.        He paid the penalty - I Peter 1:18-21

            D.        God wants us to be righteous, but He doesn’t expect absolute perfection. Instead, he asks for continual effort toward righteousness - I John 1:8-2:1

            E.        He’s waiting for you - II Peter 3:9

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