“The Devil Made Me Do It”

I started talking about this a tiny bit before, but we need to understand the cause of many of our problems. Now, for those of you who are old enough to remember Geraldine Jones, will immediately recognize the title of today’s message. Way back in the 60’s, there was a comedian named Flip Wilson. He created several characters, but one in particular, was Geraldine Jones. Geraldine was a coarsely flirty, and sassy liberated Southern gal, but who always remained faithful to her (unseen) boyfriend “Killer.”

That phrase became a phenomenon that everyone knew. But Wilson did create that phrase. Nope, it was the excuse that Eve used in the Garden of Eden! When Yahweh confronted her with the humanities first sin, Eve said, “The devil deceived me, and I ate it.” (Genesis 3:13). Yeah well, her excuse didn’t get her off the hook, and it won’t help us , either.

Yeah, yeah. I realize that the ol’ devil and his demons do tempt us to sin. But when we try to use that phrase,  “the devil made me do it,” to excuse our own bad choices, the Lord will pull the slack out us, just like He did Eve. Besides, unless you are talking about an instance of demon possession, the devil cannot make us do anything! And, I will freely admit that the devil is worthy of blame for much of the evil in the world, but using the devil as a scapegoat for our own sinful choices doesn’t help us if we want to achieve victory over sin.

In fact, James makes it clear it ain’t the “devil who makes you do it,” but rather our own desires” as they lure us away and trap us. That our “desires become pregnant and give birth to sin” (James 1:14-15). Why do we sin? We sin because we are sinners. As Paul describes it, we are plagued by and infected with sin (Romans 3:10-23). While demonic oppression and influence are real, the primary problem is our sinful natures. Paul told the Galatians, “The effects of the corrupt nature are obvious: illicit sex, perversion, promiscuity, idolatry, drug use, hatred, rivalry, jealousy, angry outbursts, selfish ambition, conflict, factions, envy, drunkenness, wild partying, and similar things as those” (Galatians 5:19-21). He even goes further and says, ” I’ve told you in the past and I’m telling you again that people who habitually do these kinds of things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” Ouch! But did you notice that in those “works of the flesh,”  you don’t find mention of the works of the devil?

As a matter of fact, way back, when Yahweh was talking to ol’ Noah, the Lord said he was looking around and “saw the world and how corrupt it was because all people on earth lived evil lives” (Genesis 6:12). Now, some translations render that as the Lord saying the world “was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way upon the earth.” It may be a small difference to many, but it’s really not.

The Hebrew word used here is shachath; and certainly corrupt works, but the way we understand the word corrupt, it usually means to be dishonest or impure; it’s almost as though God’s worried that men weren’t being faithful with each other — that they lied, cheated and stole. But thatis not what this word means. It means: “polluted to the point of ruin.” That catches the sense of shachath much better. Then, when you compare it to what Yahweh had just said a few chapters before this, in the last verse of Chapter one: “Now God saw everything He had made,” and here: “it was exceedingly good!” Everything the Creator made had turned from perfection to utter ruin in just a few generations — that is sad!

What is interesting about what He first told Noah, and what said next — and something even more interesting is left out — in the following verse, verse 13: “Elohim said to Noah, ‘I have decided to put an end to all people because the earth is full of their violence. Now I’m going to destroy them along with the earth.’”

Did you notice that? God says that the causes of the problem — what led to the destruction of His creation — are the living beings He created. Now, the Hebrew word used here, basar, is often translated as “flesh,” which works. But, basar, and flesh don’t always refer to man. It can, but also refers to animals. So, the idea here is more referring to all living creatures, everything that God had given life, was at fault. Man and animals. Even more interesting is who God doesn’t blame: He does not blame Satan — He doesn’t say “the Devil did it.” Yeah, we prefer to see it that way, but the Creator doesn’t.

The Hebrews say a couple of important things about evil that I think matches what Scripture says far more than what some traditional Christian doctrines on sin and evil purport. For one thing, the Hebrew sages say that mankind was created with both good and evil inclinations. Now notice that: inclination, meaning that man has the capability of choosing one or the other.

But also understand this: as Christians, we have the indwelling Holy Spirit who helps us overcome sin (I John 4:4). We have everything we need for life and godliness (II Peter 1:3). If we sin, we have no excuse. We cannot blame the devil or some inherent gene that we might have inherited. We cannot blame our circumstances or society. We can only blame ourselves. And, until we recognize that the problem resides within us (Romans 7:20), we will never find the solution!

Oh sure, it may ruffle some feathers and hurt some feelings. It may even sound harsh to tell someone that the problem is themselves and their own choices. But it is no harsher than a doctor telling a patient to quit smoking and that the tobacco company is not to blame for his cancer. To find a cure, you have to start with a correct diagnosis and then move to the correct treatment. The correct diagnosis to our problems is sin and the treatment is not finding excuses and other to blame, but rather to submit to our Lord and obey His Word! Our redemption can enable us to achieve victory over sin (Romans 7:24-25; I John 5:3-5).

If you are a follower and disciple of Jesus and you commit a sin, the devil did not make you do it. He may have tempted you to do it. He may have even influenced you to do it. But he did not make you do it. You still had a choice. The Lord never allows you to be tempted beyond your ability to resist it, and He will always provide a way of escape (I Corinthians 10:13). When a believer says that “the devil made me do it,” are denying the truth of I John 4:4, “You belong to God. So you have won the victory, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”

Doulos Studies

(I send out messages like this each morning in emails, and if you are interested in receiving them, send me your email address and I will add youm—a to the list: Mail List)

I do thank you for your gifts. It is your faithful and continued support that makes these messages possible.

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