It’s quite common these days for preachers to tell us we are “broken.” The reason we sin, the reason we are separated from God, is because we are broken and in need of repair. Our brokenness began with Adam in the Garden, and we have been victims of that brokenness since then.

There’s certainly biblical support for the concept of brokenness and inherited sin. We see it in Romans 5 in particular. Adam’s sin was passed along to you and to me, and as a result we stand guilty before God. We sin because we are sinners.

But we’re more than just broken. We’re sinful. We’re guilty of our own sin, regardless of the brokenness we’ve inherited from Adam.

This is more than theological hair-splitting. If we do not own our behavior, we can never change. Every pastor or counselor regularly talks with people who see themselves as helpless victims of forces beyond their control. Their sin is never their fault — it’s the fault of their spouse, or their parents, or society, or the Internet. Maybe it’s even God’s fault for letting temptation into the world.

While it’s true that our background and our sin nature and our genetic composition can make holiness difficult, we are still responsible for our behavior. Every person eventually faces a choice to either grow up and accept the responsibility that comes with adulthood, or to remain a perpetual victim of the past. In many cases, counseling can help a person understand and overcome their past. Counseling can help us process how our parents or our society make obedience more difficult. But any counselor who says you are a helpless victim of brokenness isn’t worth the money. You might be a victim, but in Jesus you are far from helpless.

Hear me clearly: If you know Jesus, your past experiences cannot make you do anything. Your parents, your friends, and your spouse cannot force you to sin. In fact, if the Spirit of God lives in you, then sin isn’t your boss anymore (Romans 6:11-14). You’re not required to obey it, and you’re not required to give into your brokenness.

In other words, all of us are broken, but God offers free repairs. The process is often painful and it takes a lifetime and then some. But none of us are simply victims.

In order to find victory over sin, we each need to first admit that we are grown-ups, responsible for what we do. When we accept that reality, then we are open to the changes God wants to make. As long as we believe nothing is our own responsibility, we’ll cling to the idea that we’re helpless and hopeless.

Instead, let’s approach each moment with an open heart and mind. Let’s ask the Lord, “Where do I need to change? What do you want to do in my life?” Then accept responsibility for your actions and ask God to change you through His Spirit’s power.

Because His Spirit is so much stronger than our brokenness and His grace is so much greater than our sin. We aren’t simply broken; we’re forgiven, redeemed, and empowered to represent the God who raised Jesus from the dead.

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