Over the years I’ve met people who would never admit when they were wrong or if they were at fault. If they did something wrong or even sinful, they would make excuses, blame other people, play the victim, or simply deny wrongdoing altogether. It’s like the alcoholic who totally denies he has a problem and blames his wife for accusing him. Since there is no true acknowledgement of sin/error, there is no true sorrow or repentance for sin/error. It’s an ugly picture.
When a five-year-old child denies doing something wrong, that’s one thing. But when someone who is more mature never admits fault it is clear sign of pride and it shows that the person does not understand the pervasiveness of sin in his or her own heart. In fact, the more I meet people who never admit fault and never apologize, the more I am very cautious around them – especially if they call themselves Christians.
Jeff Crippen and Anna Wood say that one aspect of an abuser’s mentality is “Never at Fault, Never Sorry.” I’m not saying that every person who refuses to admit fault and say sorry is an abuser; I’m saying (in agreement with Crippen/Wood) that abusers typically do not admit fault and apologize for their sin. Here’s a slightly edited section from their book, A Cry for Justice:
If you have ever sat down with an abuser and called their attention to their abusive tactics and attitudes, you already know what a frustrating experience this can be. Largely, this is because the abuser’s mindset does not permit him to be wrong. [They] blame and accuse, [and] rationalize, drawing upon [their] uncanny ability to make excuses.
As we have already learned, abusers have a monolithic and impenetrable mindset of self-justification. He is entitled. He deserves to have others acknowledge his power and control over them. If they refuse to bow to him, then none should blame him if he has to use abusive tactics to make them submit to his rule. If his wife had just done what he told her, none of that unpleasantness last night would have happened.
Closely related to this profound sense of justification for what he does is the abuser’s inability to ever truly be remorseful or sorry. This is still another very, very important fact for us to clearly understand if we are to avoid the abuser’s deceptions. Abusive people mimic repentance and remorse, but it is an act designed to manipulate the victim, or simply the product of a regret that eventually vaporizes without producing real change (p. 102).
In light of this, be careful around people who never admit fault or apologize; don’t let your guard down. And look after your own heart, praying for the grace to admit fault and sin and pray for the strength to apologize from the heart. Remember three biblical truths: 1) everyone who is arrogant in his heart is an abomination to the Lord (Prov. 16), 2) a broken and contrite spirit the Lord does not despise (Ps. 51), and 3) Jesus came into the world to save sinners (1 Tim. 1).