Don’t excuse yourself by saying, “Look, we didn’t know.” For God understands all hearts, and he sees you. He who guards your soul knows you knew. He will repay all people as their actions deserve. Proverbs 24:12 (NLT)

Humanity has been making excuses from the very beginning. It has almost become an art form. Adam started us off: The man replied, “It was the woman you gave me who gave me the fruit, and I ate it.” Genesis 3:12 (NLT). Shifting blame and responsibility looks like a genetic trait. From the classics like “the dog ate my homework” or “the devil made me do it,” we have all heard them and even perhaps tried to use them. However, rarely are we successful.

American evangelist Billy Sunday once said, “An excuse is a skin of a reason stuffed with a lie.” Someone added, “No matter how you slice it, it comes out baloney.” Sometimes we try and make excuses for minor and trivial things because of indignity or embarrassment. But when we make excuses for things that matter, God will call us to account.

We Can Never Fool God

They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them. For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God. Romans 1:19–20 (NLT)

When the facts in evidence are so plainly obvious, why do so many people miss the truth about God? The reason is simple. The revelation of God, along with his plans and purposes for humanity, can be inconvenient and intrusive to those unwilling to submit to his authority.

In Isaiah, we read: All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. This is true, but we are not satisfied because we want to be justified in our own actions. That is until our consciences have been dulled to the point of oblivion. Like the teacher of the law to whom Jesus spoke of the Good Samaritan, humanity is always seeking to justify itself.

The conflict occurs because although we can sometimes convince ourselves, and even others, we cannot justify our actions before God. Lincoln said, “You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time.” But we would add we can never fool God.

Beware of Hypocrisy

You may think you can condemn such people, but you are just as bad, and you have no excuse! When you say they are wicked and should be punished, you are condemning yourself, for you who judge others do these very same things. Romans 2:1 (NLT)

As we read through Acts, we may find ourselves saying amen and hearty agreement with the condemnation of “those people” referred to in Romans 1. It speaks of those who deny the existence of God or those who worship the creation rather than the creator, along with those who practice or approve of immorality.

But how dare Paul tell us that we are guilty of the same things? It is not that our sins are precisely the same as theirs. But how easy it is for us to make excuses for our own sins while condemning others. It is a warning and reminder that no one is without guilt before God. For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Romans 3:23 (NLT)

Paul was not going to let us off the hook, so to speak, just because our sins are not the same as someone else’s. It is easy to reject someone else’s excuses while clinging to our own. At the same time, we must not downplay or even approve of sin. No one should ever take the consequences of sin or rebellion lightly. We must be wary of throwing the first stone.

There But for the Grace of God, Go I

Don’t be fooled by those who try to excuse these sins, for the anger of God will fall on all who disobey him. Don’t participate in the things these people do. For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light! Ephesians 5:6–8 (NLT)

It seems as though everyone has an excuse for everything. Society is to blame, or “it is my parents’ fault.” Some people blame God. Ignorance is not a defense. In one sense, making excuses is a good sign. When someone stops making excuses for their behavior, it is a sign that their conscience is dead. But in the end, excuses will not help.

There is a connection between making excuses and being in darkness. Although we are children of the light, every time we make an excuse for our actions, it is a step away from the light. But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin. 1 John 1:7 (NLT)

We are in this struggle together. We have a commission, not just to speak out against the darkness but to let our light shine in the darkness. Not only is there no excuse for behavior contrary to God’s pattern, but there is also no excuse for not being light in this world. We have hope because of the grace of God and only because of His grace: no more excuses, just obedience.

Steve Ekeroth


Photo by Brett Jordan:

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