Why do we sin? Perhaps if we could understand why we sin, we could begin to limit how often we do it. My experience has shown me all sin can be traced back to either selfishness or pride. We want what we want and we want it now. We want what we want regardless of whether it is pleasing to God or beneficial to our spiritual walk. What’s going on here is indicative of both selfishness and pride.
We determine our personal desires are more important than God’s plans for us. This is the height of arrogance and pride. In essence, we are telling God we know better than He does. Our selfishness causes us to focus on ourselves instead of on God.
Examine your own life. I’ll bet you’ll find every sin can be traced back to some form of selfishness or pride. Truthfully, sin is usually caused by a combination of both. It is this combination which is so powerful and difficult to resist. It’s Satan’s oldest trick, and he is still employing it to great success. In the Garden of Eden, the devil convinced Eve she could be like God and then showed her how amazing the fruit on the forbidden tree appeared to be. He appealed to both her pride and selfish desires. It was the source of the original sin and we haven’t yet figured out how to defeat this kind of attack.
Our selfishness is exploited every time we look on things of this world as something we must have. The only thing we need is God. He can and will provide for all our needs. Many times we try to add on to what He has given us, as if what we clutch in our hands will bring more joy than the perfect gifts of the One who Created us and knows us best. It’s pathetic, but true.
Pride rears its ugly head whenever we act on our own instead of relying on God’s power. We convince ourselves we know better what to do in a particular situation than He does. Whether or not we recognize it, in those moments, we are putting ourselves in the place of God. This is essentially what pride is. It is the assumption our wisdom, our intelligence, and our decisions are more wise and accurate than God’s.
Why do we sin? Because it’s easier to sin than to turn away. We are prideful and selfish individuals, and until we choose to crucify those things, we will continue to lose the battle against them. The key to victory is surrender. It’s another example of the backwards logic in the upside-down Kingdom of God. To find our lives, we must lose them (Matthew 16:25). To be first, we must be last (Mark 9:35; Matthew 20:16). And to defeat pride and selfishness, we must surrender.
When we want only what God wants for us and keep Him in His rightful place as Lord of our lives, selfishness and pride will cease to be a problem for us. When we crucify our selfishness and pride we allow God to do all He originally intended to do through our lives. As we lay them down at His feet, we can hear Him say, “Go and sin no more” (John 8:10-11). And this is what we must do.