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{Lessons Learned} No Sin is Justifiable: How Anthony Stopped Justifying Murder

Posted on: March 18th, 2013 by Laurie Coombs 7 Comments

Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. – Ephesians 4:26-27

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There is always a reason behind the sins we commit.

There is a reason I sometimes lose it and yell at my kids.

There is a reason I find myself rooting through my pantry, looking for something to fill me (though I’m not hungry), when I should be going to Jesus to be filled instead.

And there was a reason I stood in condemnation of Anthony, the man who murdered my dad, unable to forgive him for a decade.

Honestly, there are times when the reasons behind our sins seem legitimate. Sometimes our kids need to be disciplined. Sometimes we need to be filled. Sometimes we have been wronged.

The feelings we feel are legitimate. Sometimes, for example, we should be angry about the sins and atrocities committed in this world, for they anger God, and the anger we feel is what’s called righteous anger. But still, we must not sin regardless of whether or not there is a reason to.

No Sin is Justified

A couple weeks ago, I said all sins are forgivable, and this is true. All sin is forgivable, but ultimately, no sin is justifiable. 

This issue was discussed extensively with Anthony during our correspondence. There was a reason Anthony killed my dad. And at one point, things got pretty heated as we discussed just that.

I felt Anthony was justifying the murder, saying that in some way he was justified to kill my dad because there was a “reason” behind what he did. As you can imagine, that didn’t sit well with me.

Anthony wrote:

I am in here with people who killed someone for no reason, or drugs or killed 2 people and have less time than me. I don’t think that’s justice. I am sorry.

We were discussing his sentence––life without the possibility of parole––which I believe is just for his crime. And when I read his words, I was set on fire. I responded and said,

…while you have said that you will “forever be sorry for what [you] did and how [you] hurt [my] family,”  your last two letters seemed to indicate that you’re justifying your actions by claiming you had a “reason” for killing my dad.  While I will never dispute the fact that my dad made some mistakes, there is absolutely no justification for what you did, and the fact that you had a “reason” for committing murder doesn’t make your actions any more or less of a crime.

Even though Anthony apologized for murdering my dad, I felt he was trying to justify his behavior. He, of course, didn’t see it that way. Anthony wrote back:

I have never said I had a “reason” for killing your dad but you wanted to know what led up to that day, what was my emotional state and such. I felt it was safe to give you an overview of the stuff leading up to it. This also seems to have been misconstrued as justification, not so.

Even though he maintained that he was not justifying his behavior, he repeatedly pointed to the actions of others involved, essentially saying, yeah I did it, but look what they did. When all I wanted to hear was, I did it. I am sorry. Period.

To Anthony’s credit, I asked him a lot of questions about the circumstances leading up to the murder. And he willingly gave me his perspective, which I am thankful for because it allowed me to gain greater understanding, leading to further healing.

Still, it felt as though he was using his “reasons” to justify taking my dad’s life. In my eyes, he was remorseful, but not yet repentant.

Months passed, and I was given grace to forgive despite Anthony’s justification. But then, I watched as Jesus began to change Anthony’s heart.

Two years later, Anthony wrote:

I needed to own what I did. I murdered a man. I did it…. I wanted to feel justified in what I did because the alternative was to hate myself, but when Laurie forgave me, she allowed me to forgive myself. I could also go to God humbly and ask his forgiveness. And God is so faithful, so I know I am forgiven.

Isn’t that why we all justify our sin? It’s difficult to live with ourselves once we come to understand that there is no one to blame but ourselves. Yet, there is comfort to be found in the forgiveness of God, which can be seen in Anthony’s story.

When we see his story, we see the power of God at work. God took an unrepentant murderer whose only option was to justify his behavior to escape self-loathing, and he transformed him by his grace. Jesus showed Anthony the Gospel. And Anthony finally came to a place of repentance and healing, as his excuses fell to the ground.

Through this process, both Anthony and I were shown that while the circumstances leading  to sin can certainly bring understanding, they are by no means justification for our actions.

{There is always a reason behind the sins we commit, but no sin is justifiable.} [Tweet that]

Question – Each of us have been tempted to justify our actions at one point or another. I now I struggle with this from time to time. How about you? Do you take full responsibility for your sins or do you tend to justify your actions or place the blame on others involved? Share in the comments.

To leave a comment, click on the link above. This will take you to the post where you can leave your comment at the bottom.

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  • Oh my goodness, I am so sorry you’re having to go through this, Esther! Forgiveness is never easy, no matter the offense. You are right – our spirit is willing but our flesh is weak! But we do have God’s grace continually available to us. We can always choose to forgive. But it’s a process. Follow the Spirit’s leading and you will never regret it! In Love Does, Bob Goff says we “trade up.” Every time we choose God’s way over our own, we trade up. We give Him our pain, our sorrow, our anger, etc. and He in turn gives us His peace, His comfort, His ability to love (even our enemies), and so much more! It seems so easy, but I know all too well it’s not. It’s something we mush continually move toward. Something we fight for! But oh how it’s worth it!!! Keep pressing into God’s strength and His grace and He will show you the “how’s!”
    Thank you for sharing!! I pray for your heart to heal and for you to lay down all and gain the ability to see all this through the eyes of Jesus!!

  • Esther Fairow

    Hello Laurie,
    I recently had an experience with one of my “sisters in Christ”.  The Bible talks about the tongue being the body’s most unruly member.  I was blindsided, and disappointed in the things that flowed from her mouth…And the hatred and anger in how they flowed!  I have always known that there was something hindering us from really connecting. Well, little did I know that for years she had collected and packed away ill feelings and perceptions about me that were hurtful and untrue.  Her ill feelings toward me caused her to mistreat my youngest daughter (won’t go into details).  After the situation, she acted as if the incident made her powerful and she appeared to find pleasure in my hurt.  Although the situation gave me understanding in some areas, it has left me feeling uncomfortable every time I see her.  I know,beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Spirit is telling me to lay my gift at the altar, have another conversation with her and forgive her but my flesh won’t let me.  Every time I see her, I feel so awkward because I know how she feels about me. When we see each other, we sort of speak and look away quickly.  I’ve had a convo with my Pastor and she gives me the Word and tells me that I have to forgive and show love no matter what…I know that.  The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.  By no means is this as hurtful or tragic as what you’ve gone through, but it hurts nonetheless; especially coming from someone in the household of faith.

  • Katie, 
    What a blessing that you’re seeing this right now! This is a wonderful place to be. The fact that you can see and admit this is an area of sin in your life is evidence of your softened heart. It may be a struggle, but rest assured, God has already given you the power through the Holy Spirit to fight this battle and repent of your attitude. But it will take time. We are told to draw close to God and He will draw near to us. Do this, and you will change in this area. I’ll be praying!

  • Katie 12270

    I struggle with this tremendously. I often succumb to an awful attitude because things aren’t the way I want them to be. I have health problems, money problems, personal problems…I justify my sinful attitude and the behavior that results by listing all the ways others have contributed to my problems. I blame God, others and myself. I am studying Romans and started to see what I was really doing. This article goes along so well with chapter 3,  and with what I need to repent of in my life. That no sinful attitude is justified.

  • Jennifer Owen

    That is beautiful, Laurie. 🙂