Means, Motive, Opportunity

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Law enforcement officials will tell you these three elements combined generally result in a crime. Remove one individual element and it becomes incredibly difficult, some would say impossible, for criminal activity to occur.

For those who struggle with a particular sin, I propose this: by removing one of those three elements from your life while simultaneously exercising self-control, you will be able to remove a habitual or undesired sinful act from your life.

I will start with probably the hardest of the three to manage in your daily life: motive. It is possibly the hardest element to remove from the equation — as the basic nature of the human man is sinful to begin with. Even after redemption, a person will most certainly always have the flesh-filled motivation or specific tilt toward a particular act or sinful nature. I propose that the process of removing your motive is completed only through the continual transformation of your mind, which occurs through a deepening relationship with God. (Romans 12:2)

Removing means is possible by intentionally removing that tool, which causes the sinful nature to manifest itself. If the struggle is addiction, simple removal of the substance itself from the environment is the surest way to prevent a sinful act from happening. If the sinful nature is aroused based on a locational response – remove the means by being intentional in where you go (I’m sure you can pinpoint what or where that would be for you if you think for a moment). Remove the means (the tool, method, or substance) and even with your sinful motive and opportunity left, you have prevented the ability to have either a moral or physical failure which results in a sinful act.

Removing opportunity is the final element to address. If motive remains, and you still have the means, but you find yourself without the opportunity to act, the odds decrease exponentially that failure will result. If your struggle is enhanced by surrounding yourself with people who struggle with the same thing, your opportunity will remain high. Surrounding yourself with people who won’t lean towards your particular desires will result in decreasing opportunity for an occurrence. For example – If your struggle (pornography?) manifests itself when you are alone with your ipad, then intentionally leave your ipad charging in another room at night! If your struggle (anger?) exposes itself when you are around certain people talking about certain things (politics?), then don’t sit around with those people and allow yourself to be engaged in conversations you know will bring your struggle to the surface. If your struggle (gluttony?) becomes real when you go into a certain restaurant, then just don’t go there! REMOVE opportunity and it will be exponentially harder for you to fail.

Be intentional in all things. Let all three elements remain and your sinful nature will likely expose itself every time.

I’m convinced that through the process of continued development into spiritual maturity and an increasing ability to discern the voice of the Holy Spirit through the practice of recognition (Hebrews 5:14) – the removal of means, motive, or opportunity will result in a decrease in moral failures and sinful acts.

Which element can you remove today?


Andy Ziesemer

Andy serves as the President of AJM, traveling to support missionaries and teams around the world.


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