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A Wisdom Retreat - April 20

It’s in My Genes

James 1:13-14
Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust.

A group of Swedish researchers surprised the scientific community when they published their findings that sexual immorality is genetically influenced. They had isolated a gene which they believed influenced a man to cheat on his wife.

They nicknamed it the “sin gene,” and it came to serve as alleged proof that people were helplessly wired for sin. One of the researchers said, “These findings shed light on the fact that all of our behaviors are influenced by nature.”

What he means is that any idea of sinful behavior should be discarded in favor of an understanding of the evolutionary process. In other words, sin isn’t really our fault—we can’t help it. It’s simply part of our genetic structure.

So a criminal can say (and many do) that the reason they committed their crime was because of the neighborhood they grew up in or because of a dysfunctional family or because of a lack of education or because of the media or because of social injustice, ad infinitum.

In other words, prisons aren’t filled with villains . . . they’re filled with victims!

Christians can play the blame game, too. Like our first parents Adam and Eve, we find it easy to point fingers of blame at others. What’s worse, we sometimes point our finger at God.

How many times do we rationalize our sin? How often do we entertain the thought, Well, God, if You had given me a better job, I wouldn’t be so greedy; if You had intervened a little earlier, I wouldn’t have become so angry; if You had just changed my heredity (or my environment, my education, my income, my geography, my alma mater—you fill in the blank), I wouldn’t be in the fix I’m in . . . I’d be a better person!

James reminds us that it is our nature to play the blame game. We are, indeed, hard-wired to blame someone else for our sinful behavior. One moment we’re blessing God for His goodness and the next, we’re blaming Him for our sin.

Let’s face it: we’re going to run into temptation sometime during the next 24 hours. We’re going to be confronted by several thousand commercials from billboards, newspapers, magazines, radio, television, internet, family, friends, coworkers, and neighbors . . . and somewhere along the way, we’re going to be tempted to want what they’re offering.

This is why James doesn’t say, “If you happen to be tempted, here’s what to do.” No. James says, “When you are tempted—because every Christian is—here’s how you’d better think if you want to pass the test.”

Keep in mind that passing the test has nothing to do with perfection—it has to do with confession. So reject sin, and when you fail . . . repent, confess, and keep moving forward.

Spiritual maturity is measured not so much by how often you sin, but by how quickly you repent. It has a lot to do with refusing to play the victim—so put fingerpointing away . . . for good.

Prayer Point: After sinning with Bathsheba, David prayed, Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. He understood that we can’t fight against temptation until we desire righteousness more than we desire sin. So pray today for God to renew your hunger for purity, humility, and love, just as David did.

Extra Refreshment: Read Psalms 32 where David confesses his sins of murder and adultery to God. He doesn’t shift blame. He doesn’t point fingers. He just confesses. And you can’t help but notice how much joy it brings him in the end.

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