It continues to amaze me how prevalent the victim mentality is being PROMOTED in our culture. Since Genesis 3:12-13 when Adam and Eve interacted with God’s counsel to them regarding their sin, all of the offspring of our first parents continue to look for ways to shift the blame for sinful choices from ourselves onto someone or something else.

“It’s not my fault”
“I didn’t mean to…”
“You made me angry so I…”
“I have a disorder that causes me to…”
“My disease is acting up again and it’s talking to me.”

When confronted by God with wise counseling questions meant to lead them to repentance of their sins, Adam and Eve said this in Genesis 3:12-13:

The man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate.” Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” And the woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” (NASB)

Both of them spoke the truth and both of them shifted the blame (or focus) off of themselves and their actions onto someone else. But don’t miss those final three words in each of their statements: “and I ate.” Why is that important to emphasize? Because it is a repentant statement of confession acknowledging one’s own choice: “and I ate.”

“I did it. It’s my fault”
“I meant to do it and it was wrong”
“I chose to get angry about what you said and I should not have acted out in a sinful way”
“My heart is to blame and what it wants leads me to make wrong choices – not my disorder or my disease”

For God to clothe them in garments of skin with His righteousness, repentance was the first step (saying “and I ate”). There is nowhere else to begin but to pray to God and say, “Lord, I was wrong for what I chose to do. Will you forgive me based upon the precious blood of Christ?” We see God’s grace to Adam and Eve, repentant sinners, in Genesis 3:21: “The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them.” (NASB)

To get to this point of forgiveness, there must always be a confession of guilt due to our sinful choices. God calls us to repentance by His Spirit which convicts the world of sin for the purpose of leading guilty persons to the grace and mercy of Christ. John 16:8-10 refers to the work of the Holy Spirit who is the “He” in these verses: “And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment; concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me; and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father and you no longer see Me; and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged.” (NASB)

Confessing our sin and forsaking it is what is required for us to find the mercy of God (Prov. 28:13). There is no other way. Until you come to the place where you say, “I am the problem. I deserve all blame. I did it and it was wrong. God, please forgive me through Jesus Christ alone,” you will never experience the grace of God.

God’s call to repent is a LOVING call to all of us and somehow in an out of balance hyper-grace, hyper-love atmosphere of churchianity in America, we have missed the justice and holiness of God. Without understanding the latter, there is no need for grace and mercy. We must present both the justice of God as well as the grace of God simultaneously and that is best viewed at Calvary where Christ was crucified.

Biblical counselors must learn to loving call their counselees to repentance first by showing them the holiness and justice of God. Only God grants repentance (Rom. 2:4) and by the Holy Spirit’s conviction will people become aware of their need to be saved from their sins. We are not victims of forces outside of ourselves that make us do terrible things (i.e. “the devil made me do it”) but are responsible for the choices we make to follow our heart’s desires.

God is still in the business of saving souls and transforming lives. We see evidence of it nearly every day in this ministry and when I look at my own heart, I see evidence of it each and every day! Praise His Name!

-Mark (grateful for the conviction of the Holy Spirit to show me my sin and the sin of my counselees for the purpose of repentance and ultimately to display the glory of God)