Sinful Impulses

Eric Dougherty

We experience impulses to do many things. Some impulses we cannot control. The impulse to sneeze when we breathe in dust can be overwhelming. Some impulses we can control. When someone gets bit by mosquitoes or chiggers or gets into a patch of poison ivy, the impulse to scratch is very strong. It can be resisted, but only with strong will power. Neither of these examples is sinful. Not because I say so or because man has decreed it, but because God has not issued a command or principle against these impulses.


Other impulses, however, are sinful. These would be those impulses that God has provided instruction for their restraint. The impulse to act upon anger or lust could yield the result of sin. Following our emotional desires is not sinful in authorized situations. Jesus’ display of righteous anger in the temple and Paul’s teaching about the sexual relationship between husband and wife would be examples.

Too often, in our society, acting upon impulse is an excuse that is used by many for poor judgment and behavior. A parent may excuse a child’s disobedience by saying, “He’s just impulsive,” or we may laugh at something we do and say, “I guess I acted without thinking.” Let’s call things for what they are. If God has spoken against a particular behavior, let’s not call the desire to do it “impulse.” Let’s call it temptation. If we give in to an impulse (temptation) God has spoken against, let’s not say, “I was impulsive.” What needs to be said is, “I sinned. Forgive me.”

“For the love of Christ constrains us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.” 2 Corinthians 5:14-15. -1634 New Bern St., Newport, NC 28570.

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