How independent in our decision making do we think we are?
How different are we able to be from either our immediate contacts or the general prevailing culture? Who controls our sense of right and wrong? Have you ever behaved in a way you consider shameful or wrong through the influence of external factors? Have you ever experienced a sense of remorse even while you repeat a behaviour you already feel bad about? Do you blame external factors for bad decisions even though at the time you had a nagging feeling it was not right? Have you buried regrets by pursuing friendships that confirm your bad decisions?
If you feel that the questions above are hinting at addictive behaviour then you are correct. However not necessarily addictions as we commonly mean, such as gambling, drink, drugs or excessive shopping. The questions also apply to a much more generalized addiction to sin. Sometimes sin in our minds seems to focus on one particular thing, such as demeaning speech, because our conscience is sensitive to that, but it is all those things that are offensive to God. Additionally, we can attempt to offload our responsibility for our own sin pointing to external influences. Jesus does not accept that it is possible to bypass personal responsibility in that way. Although he was speaking about whether failing to abide by cleansing rituals before eating or consuming certain foods can corrupt people, Jesus was clear. Sin comes from the heart of the person, ‘For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and defile a person.’ Mark 7:21-23
When we read Mark’s account of Herod’s treatment and murder of John the Baptist we find a man internally conflicted, entwined in a set of circumstances of his own making, indecisive and eventually weak willed. He finally covers his conscience by befriending people of power who are like minded.
Is there any aspect of Herod’s character that we consider is like ourselves?
Whose friendship and affirmation do we value the most?
Tasha Cobbs – Break Every Chain