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Cold hard truth: you can’t blame your ex for everything.

That’s what we’re going to discover this week as we continue analyzing the TOP10 Signs you’re on a Bad First Date.

These true-life experiences weren’t very fun at the time, but we’re having fun learning what we can from the pain, making the metaphorical lemonade out of the allegorical lemons. This week, we address #3: Your date admits to cheating on their ex multiple times… but only because their ex did it first!!!

It’s not that this person has issues. We ALL have issues, but when the mature person misses the mark they experience conviction which, by God’s grace, leads to confession and repentance. And over time: growth.

We may never conquer all our hurts, habits and hang-ups, but we also don’t get comfortable with them

Of course, we shouldn’t live under condemnation either. Condemnation pushes us to hide our sin, or make excuses for it, or deny responsibility, or stew in our shame, or (in the case of this person) blame someone else.

Instead we should be convicted when caught in the middle of our mess. Indeed, it is conviction that drives us to admit we aren’t who we should be (who we truly want to be) and that we want to do whatever it takes to make things right. And…

The way God asks us to make things right is by bringing all that’s wrong with us to Him and letting Him make those things right – letting Him make us right.

This is allowing God to justify us.

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” – Rom 3:23-24 ESV

Did you catch that?

We are justified by God’s grace as a gift! Doesn’t that sound absolutely splendid? However, you have to receive a gift to enjoy it. And you can’t receive God’s gift of justification if you choose to justify yourself instead.

And that’s what this person has done. They’ve justified their unfaithfulness. Their ex had it coming. (And maybe they did.)

Enough about Mr. or Mrs. “My Ex Did it First!,” do you readily receive Christ’s justification for your sin or are you more prone to justify yourself?

If you’re like me, and prone to justify yourself, what’s your natural response:

  • BLAME: “It’s their fault!” or “They did it first!” or “The woman You gave me, she gave me the fruit…”

TRUTH: I’m not responsible for what they did. I’m responsible for what I did.

  • EXCUSE: “If you knew what I’ve gone through.” or “There’s a good reason I reacted like that.”

TRUTH: Explaining why I sinned, doesn’t change the fact that I sinned.

  • SHAME: “I know I did wrong and I’m going to punish myself for it. And if I punish myself enough; if I feel bad enough; then I’ll pay for my own sin.”

TRUTH: The wages of sin is DEATH… not bad feelings. I can’t really “feel” bad enough for my sin.

  • HIDE: “Quick, put on these fig leaves!” or “If no one finds out it’s like it never happened.”

TRUTH: Sadly it’s the sin that no one knows about that proves to be the most deadly. That’s why I want to be in the habit of revealing my sin to people I trust, instead of waiting to get caught.

  • DENIAL: “Wasn’t me.” or “I don’t know what you’re talking about!”

TRUTH: With enough effort (deception) I can even convince myself that my lie is the truth. Is that how I want to live?

  • REBELLION: “I did it and frankly I don’t care. I don’t have to answer to anyone. In fact, I’m glad I did it.”

TRUTH: This response can be the most deadly, because the more I rebel, the less conviction I’ll feel. And the less conviction, the better I’ll feel! Until the reality of my rebellion hits home.

You have to make a choice between justifying yourself or accepting God’s justification. You can’t do both.

If you’re like me, you want to try. You want to say, “Thank you, Jesus, for taking away my sin, all those teeny weenie itsy bitsy sins that I feel terrible about in spite of having completely understandable reasons for committing.” (And that’s the sin we’re not denying or hiding.)

Jesus doesn’t fall for that. It’s not that Jesus won’t forgive and justify the sin I’m justifying myself. Indeed, Jesus has already died for all our sin, but to receive Jesus’ gift of justification, we have to relinquish our “right” to our own “justification.

This is what faith in Christ is all about – faith in Jesus’ justification instead of our own. This is as true for the cheater in question as it is for you and me, so let’s confess and repent and enjoy Christ’s justification instead of our own.

When you look at it this way, why would we even want to justify ourselves (“My ex did it first!”)? We’ll talk about that next weekend.

DNA: It’s What’s For Dating

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The LoveEd study guide series, Beyond Sex & Salvation, will empower you to prepare for relational success when it counts: BEFORE YOU FALL IN LOVE! It’s NOT for couples, but for any wise individual who thinks they might want to get married sometime before they die. Check out the first two 8-lesson study guides in our store. You can walk through it on your own, but it’s more fun with friends, so consider putting together an FMU LoveEd small group study. Even better?  And ask a married couple you respect to lead it!