If you were to ask a professing Christian in America who the greatest preacher of all time was, they would probably respond with Jesus, and Billy Graham...in that order. However, if you asked that question in the years leading up to the American Revolutionary War, the name George Whitefield would almost certainly come up. George Whitefield was an open-air preacher who toured the American colonies throughout the 1700's until his death in 1770. During his life, he was likely the most famous person in what would later be known as the United States of America. George could rivet the attention of hundreds (even thousands) at a time, and he spun truly beautiful sermons...at times extemporaneously. Here is a quote from his sermon "The Seed of the Woman, and the Seed of the Serpent".
"Thus, when men sin, they lay the fault upon their passions; then blame and reflect upon God for giving them those passions. Their language is, 'the appetites that thou gavest us, they decieved us; and therefore we sinned against thee.'"
How very true are these words. In the first story of the Bible, Adam and Eve are disobedient unto God; when they are questioned, both are quick to point blame away from themselves. This is rather common knowledge. However, consider how Adam in particular tries to deflect blame for his actions: "..the man said, 'the woman which you gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat'".
Some will notice that Adam seems to be blaming Eve for his actions...and this is in part true. However, Adam is actually blaming God. Essentially, Adam is griping that it is because God gave him a wife that he fell...had God never given him that darn woman, then none of this would have happened! Ironically, God's helper and companion to Adam, becomes little more in Adam's eyes than a live-in-enemy of sorts. George Whitefield picked up on this quirky aspect of the text and was calling attention to it.
I cannot help but to think just how little has changed; as Adam blamed his downfall on God via his own passion for a companion, so do many in the world today blame their moral failings or religious backsliding on God through passions they see as originating in him. Married men seek pornography and easy thrills while blaming God for an un-intimate wife. Young people seek solace in destructive behavior while accusing God of placing them in an unloving home or lonely place. Most compellingly, we perhaps see shades of this human inclination amongst the homosexuals, as they reason: "Had God not wanted me this way, then he would not have made me this way."
Sin is a difficult topic, but if the great George Whitefield can teach us anything of it, it is that we so often use it as an enabler and a scapegoat for our own enmity against our creator...a being so superior to us we can do little else than rage against our own fallibleness in comparison to his grandeur.