Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Devil Made Me Do It

As we approach Halloween with its emphasis on the demonically supernatural, I was inspired to do a post on a habit among many Christians that's a real pet peeve of mine. What is that habit, you ask? It's Christians' habit of blaming everything bad they do on the devil.

Now I understand that Scripture calls Satan the tempter. He tempted Jesus during His forty day fast in the wilderness, and he tempts us. But blaming the devil for all our sinful deeds is, in my opinion, a cop out. While Satan definitely works to lure us away from God and His way, we are also led away from God and His standards by our own sinful nature.

The Bible says that the unsaved man is naturally full of enmity toward God. When we are saved we do receive a new nature via the Holy Spirit, but the old one isn't erased. It remains, constantly contending with the new nature for dominance in each Christian. Maybe that's why many Christians blame the devil for their sinning: it's easier than waging spiritual warfare with themselves.

A life of perpetual, internal, spiritual struggle isn't what many people today are told to expect when they "accept Christ". Rather, they're told that accepting Christ means instant sainthood epitomized by a "victorious Christian life" of health, wealth, and happiness. Acknowledging, let alone struggling with, their sinful nature just isn't on the menu. So, when things start to go wrong and these Christians find themselves sinning they see it as a Satanic attack on their "victorious life". They don't take responsibility for their own actions, repent, and seek forgiveness from God and man; instead, they enlist prayer warriors to help them repel the devilish assault. In going this route, they deprive themselves of golden opportunities for spiritual growth.

The apostle Paul plainly states that all believers begin their Christian walk as spiritual infants and must grow into mature believers. This maturity develops through spiritual struggle, not just study of God's Word. Blaming the devil for their sins means Christians don't grow as they should. It prevents them from dealing honestly with their weaknesses. Facing their weaknesses teaches Christians humility and helps protect them from pride. Facing their weaknesses teaches Christians patience and empathy for others who struggle and helps protect them from self-righteousness. Facing their weaknesses teaches Christians to rely on God for strength, bringing them closer to Him. Working, with God's help, to overcome their imperfections exercises Christians' spiritual muscles in a way blaming Satan can never do. And spiritually strong believers can resist real Satanic attacks much better than weak ones.

The devil made me do it may be an easy out but it can't create a mature, strong follower of Christ. Those who regularly use this out may appear Godly but lack the power thereof, as Scripture puts it. Therefore, anyone seeking to become a true Christian must put aside blaming Satan and accept responsibility for his sins. He must recognize his complete dependence on Christ for the strength to overcome sin. And he must accept that overcoming sin will be a lifelong struggle, but one that will refine him like fire refines silver. That will make the Christian spotless when he stands before the Lord. That's why the struggle is necessary and worth it, and why "the devil made me do it" must go.