“I Have Sinned” by Joshua Gulley
Recently a student at a public high school was sent into the hallway to correct some questions on a test he failed in order to recover some credit. Taking advantage of the opportunity, the student stepped into the restroom with a cigarette lighter and a marijuana pipe. With unfortunate timing (for the student) another teacher stepped out of class to use the restroom and noticed an odd smell as he opened his door. He walked into the bathroom and saw the student, who, interestingly, did not even take the precaution of going into the stall. Instead, he was lighting up in the middle of the bathroom, disdaining the probabilities of being seen. As the student followed the teacher out of the bathroom, he threw the incriminating evidence into the hallway trash can (which the teacher quickly retrieved), and with an air of false pride and anger at what he perceived to be injustice, said, “That wasn’t even mine!” He evidently thought he should be counted innocent because the materials did not belong to him.
This occurrence revealed a couple of things to me about the sin of Adam and Eve in the garden. First, Eve either refused to believe that she would be held accountable for eating the forbidden fruit, or she was so tempted by the possibility of pleasure that she chose not to think about it. We too forget on occasion that “all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account” (Hebrews 4:13). Were we to think matters through thoroughly, we would make wiser choices. Secondly, much the way a defense lawyer tries to direct the jury’s attention away from the evidence and towards circumstances that cast doubt on the defendant’s guilt, we too attempt to justify our sin by comparing it to others who commit “greater sins” or shift the blame to someone else who may have been involved in our crime. The sooner we learn to follow in the footsteps of those who were man enough to say, “I have sinned” (Achan, Joshua 7:20; Saul, 1 Samuel 26:21; David, 2 Samuel 12:13; Solomon, 1 Kings 8:47-48; Daniel, Daniel 9:4-5), the sooner we will find the strength to resist the temptations to which we most often succumb.
A few of the examples listed in the parentheses do not have happy endings and therefore may seem like poor examples to emulate. It must be remembered that sin always has consequences, and that we are not here discussing the proper response to the temptation, but rather the proper course of action to pursue after the wrong choice has already been made. The least (and perhaps the most) that can be said for men like Achan, Saul and David is that they accepted 100% of the responsibility for their sins. They didn’t pass the buck to someone else or try to justify their actions. They just plain admitted they were wrong. They “faced the music” as is often said. Might we learn to do the same, especially in view of the promise made in 1 John 1:9—“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Praise God!
Josh is a teacher of music at the High School level and a teacher of the Bible for the church at his home congregation in Smithville, TN.