Behavior modification plan – sin avoidance

By Dave Henning / July 30, 2018

“On the behavior modification plan, I define integrity as ‘sin avoidance.’  As long as I’m engaged in forbidden behaviors, I think I’m on the right track.”- John Ortberg

John Ortberg concludes Chapter 10 of When the Game is Over as he stresses that problems with integrity center in the heart.  Thus, integrity involves something much bigger that simple avoidance of breaking the rules.  Also, integrity doesn’t result from getting really good at not doing the things you want to do.  Rather, Pastor Ortberg asserts, it means “becoming the kind of person who does the right thing.”

Yet, John observes, humans possess an almost limitless ability for self-deception.  Thus, the author takes a look at two integrity problems:

  1. self-serving bias: a blind spot in human nature that causes us to make ourselves the heroes of our stories.  As heroes, we exaggerate our role in victories, but absolve ourselves of blame for failure and error.
  2. fundamental attribution error: if something good happens to you, you tend to explain it by taking credit for it.  However, if you fail, you blame your circumstances.  Also, we tend to explain our bad behavior in terms of mitigating circumstances.  Yet we explain others’ bad behavior in terms of their character defects.

In conclusion, Pastor Ortberg notes, there’s a way back home for rule-breakers — grace through repentance.  For we need God’s help in order to clearly see the truths about our lives and character.  Living with grace is better than anything else.  As Scottish preacher James Stalker (1848-1927) explains, only Jesus fully understood and lived the rules:

“The most important part of the training of the Twelve was on which was perhaps at the time little noticed, though it produced splendid results – the silent and constant influence of his character on them.  It was this that made them into the men they became.”

Today’s question: How often do you resort to a behavior modification plan?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “Spending an entire day alone with God”

About the author

Dave Henning

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