Is God Responsible for My Sins?
A couple of weeks ago, I visited the drive-through ATM to get some cash so that my daughter and I could get some lunch. After waiting a few minutes for the woman in the car ahead of me to complete her transaction, I finally pulled up by the machine. The ATM screen read, “Do you want another transaction?” Another transaction? Uh oh, the woman in front of me had failed to make certain that she had completed the banking process (including making sure she was logged out) before leaving the ATM. (Surprisingly, this same thing happened to me the previous week also. So twice in two weeks, I had other people leave their bank accounts wide open to me as I arrived at the ATM.)
What should I do? Since she left her bank account wide open for me, it would have been very easy to access whatever monies she had in the account. It was like leaving all of her money sitting on a park bench for whoever wanted it. Naturally, I hit the button that indicated that the transaction was completed. Still, given that we have had a few extra bills lately that had put a strain on my own bank account, I admit that for a fraction of a second I thought about taking some extra cash. After all, if I took $20.00 for myself when I could very easily have taken $200.00, she should be thankful she only lost $20.00, right?
If I had taken $20.00 from her account, how many people would have said that I bore the responsibility for having stolen money from the account? Certainly, if the bank caught me on camera taking the money, they would have had the police hold me responsible. I am sure that the woman whose money I had taken would hold me responsible, too. But how many people would say that God was responsible for allowing me to pull up in front of the ATM where the prior account was still open? After all, if God is omniscient (as I believe Him to be), then he should know that I would be tempted by the open ATM account, wouldn't he? So, obviously He would be responsible for my theft, right?
I think it's obvious that God is not responsible for my sin. The mere fact that he allowed me to be put in that circumstance (twice, no less) would not have made him responsible for what I chose to do or not to do. And this happens to all of us every single day. Maybe we don't have an open bank account put in front of us, but we are all faced with choices. Choices to lie or not to lie. Choices to gossip or not to gossip. Choices to grumble and divide; to hurt and to injure; to turn our eyes away from what God would have us do. When we see these opportunities, does any of us say, "God, why did you cause me to do this thing?" No, we are usually well aware that we are the ones who have chosen the path that is sinful.
Consider these words from The Doctrine of Sin from Bible.org:
Adam and Eve were beguiled by Satan, yet they were pronounced guilty and punished by God (Genesis 3:16-18). In the end of the age those persons who are deceived by Satan and Antichrist are held responsible to God and judged by Him (II Thessalonians 2:9-12). The seat of sin is in man himself. Our Lord said, “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies” (Matthew 15:19). The heart of man is the birthplace of all sinful thoughts, words and actions. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). In each of us there is sin for which each is accountable. The hidden capacities for evil are present in even the best of men.
Paul recognizes that sin comes from within us, too. In 1 Timothy 1:15, he said,
It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all.
Some skeptics argue that God is responsible for sin. Of course, skeptics have a tendency to turn everything around, but such talk is simply childish babble which makes no sense. Consider, if God were responsible for out sins then why the ruse? Why would he set up this system to come into the world to save sinners if the one he needs to save is Himself because He is the real cause of all sin? It would be like a fireman setting fire to a building for the sole purpose of saving the people trapped in the fire. If his sole purpose is to save the people trapped why would he have set the fire in the first place? It makes no sense.
One could, I suppose, accept the skeptics' proposition that the reason it makes no sense is because it is a fabricated story that reasonable people should reject. But why should people follow this path when a more sensible and obvious solution exists which is consistent with the texts, i.e., that God is saving us because we are the ones responsible for our own sin? Logically, it is the better explanation of the evidence.
But what hits home even more than logic is the results when the hypothetical question becomes reality. If I had taken $20 out of the ATM (or $200 or any amount in between) when the bank account had been left wide open to me, would I have been justified in blaming God for my theft? Would I have been within my rights to have said, "God, how could you put me in a situation where the money was so available?" No, that's not what I said. I knew it was wrong to take the money (as would anyone with any moral sense), and if I had taken the money that would have had nothing to do with God -- that would have all been on me regardless of how tempting the situation. Common morality recognizes it, the law recognizes it, and (in his conscience if not in his conscious thoughts) the hardened skeptic recognizes it, too.
To blame God for our decisions to sin because he allowed the temptation to occur is either the blame game or a cheap, meaningless logic puzzle; nothing more.