Excuses: A Primary Symptom of Spiritual Complacency

When Roscoe F. Good was captain of the battleship U.S.S. Washington during 1944-1945, many of the men resented his stricter leadership after the easy going captain that preceded him. But when transgressors of Navy regulations were brought before him on Captain’s Mast, about all he would say would be, “What’s your excuse, sailor? And it better be original, because, by God, I’ve heard them all.”

Pretty much the only reply that he would receive would be, “No excuse, sir.”

One of the principles often emphasized during times of revival in the church of Jesus Christ that the very same attitude of ‘No excuses’ is necessary for followers of Christ to go forward in their spiritual lives. Unfortunately, excuses for transgressions of the commands of God are something that the reprobate mind (Romans 1:28-32), part of the fallen human nature, can come up with very easily, and even furnish and coach others in giving as a reason for sin. And certainly the enemy of our souls is ready to furnish even more excuses for us, to keep us walking in his territory of pride, self deceit and disobedience to God. But spiritual complacency often creeps into our lives, and we often find ourselves allowing old excuses to come in to try to cover our consciences, whitewash our reputations and preserve our pride, and we may find ourselves walking further away from close fellowship with Christ.

A close walk and fellowship with God calls us to drop the excuses and be honest about our sins before God. This is what it takes to walk closely in fellowship with a holy and all knowing God, and to experience fully his love and goodness. This isn’t eternal forgiveness, which is the consequence of justification by faith in Christ; rather it is relational forgiveness, which is day to day cleansing and purifying of ourselves to preserve a close relationship with a holy and righteous God.

“And this is the message which we have heard from him [Jesus] and we are proclaiming to you, that God is light and there is absolutely no darkness in him. If we say that we are maintaining fellowship with him and we are walking in darkness, we are lying and we are not practicing truth. But if we are walking in the light just as he is in the light, we are in consistent fellowship with each other and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son is purifying us from every sin. If we say that we do not have sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sis, he is faithful and righteous to forgive our sins and to purify us from everything of unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar, and and his Word is not in us. My children, I write these things to you so that you don’t sin. And if anyone does not sin, we have an advocate [for our acquittal] with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous One. And he is the propitiation for our sins – not only for our our sins but those of the whole world” (I John 1:6-2:2, Dale’s sight translation, with an emphasis on the Greek present tenses in the original language.)

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