“The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.” (…) The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” (Genesis 3:12 NIV)
“It’s that woman’s fault!!” declared Adam,
‘Tis not!!” shouted Eve. “It’s that serpent’s fault!!”
“Mission accomplished,” mused the serpent.
You are familiar with this scenario in Genesis. Adam, to his horror, realizes that God is aware of his sin, and there’s no hiding it …. Or is there? Suddenly a lightbulb goes on in Adam’s mind. He grabs Eve and thrusts her between himself and God. Then he declares, “God, don’t look at me! Look at her. She’s the one!”
In blaming Eve, Adam has just used her as a scapegoat. He exposes her before the Almighty in an attempt to protect himself! What a cruel way to treat one’s beloved wife!
That’s essentially what blame does. We’ve all done it. It’s instinctive. We blame another to protect ourselves. We blame because we can’t bear the shame of condemnation. We can’t face our naked, flawed condition. So we look for another to absorb the shame that is really our own. We may even blame the devil, as Eve did. Or we blame God, as Adam did in telling God, “The woman YOU put here with me…” If God is not blamed directly, then His followers may bear the brunt. For centuries, Godly Christians have been blamed and scapegoated. This is how countless have suffered and died for their faith in Christ.
Blame is self-protective; yet it is also self-defeating. It will never liberate us from the unbearable shame of our sinful condition. Furthermore, blame imprisons us in the grip of victimhood. We see ourselves as victims of another and take no responsibility for ourselves.
Blame is the antithesis of love. It puts barriers in relationships - from marriages to entire nations. Above all, blame keeps us from enjoying sweet communion with God. And that’s just what the “serpent” wanted!
That’s a spotlight on blame – in part. Only on the cross do we see the full spotlight on blame. There blame finds its fullest vent. There is where unrepentant sinners thrust Jesus between themselves and God, and said, “He’s the one!” The cross is where Jesus becomes the blamed one, the scapegoat – not merely by his accusers, but vicariously by all humanity. The cross is where Jesus bore the ultimate outworking of sin. Unrepentant sinners can’t face that; and so “considered him stricken by God.” Isaiah 53:4b
Now for the supreme paradox: The very vortex of blame - the cross itself - becomes the very vortex of hope. The cruel outworking of blame could not overcome our Lord. He was risen, victorious over sin’s grip. And now, through our identity in Him, we are liberated from shame and condemnation. As we learn to rest securely in His promised forgiveness, we find ourselves freed from the inclination to blame. We are free to openly acknowledge our own shortcomings – just as revealed by the Spirit. In turn, we experience the exhilarating joy of being forgiven.
Through Christ, sin need no longer drive a wedge between us and God. For in Him we are marvelously re-united with the Father. And that’s NOT what the “serpent” wanted!
Holy God, empower us to know and grasp, ever more deeply, your forgiveness through Christ, and thereby be freed from our penchant to blame.