Remember Flip Wilson? Remember his femme-fatale, Geraldine? Whenever she had to explain her actions, she would say, “Thah devil made me do it! Whoo!!”
Well, Geraldine, and everyone else, that just ain’t so.
Yes, the Devil is the Prince of Lies and the Ruler of the Earth (at least, for a while longer.) And yes, Ha Satan (the Accuser) will tell you things that can lead you to sinful actions, but the devil did not make you do it- you did it because you wanted to.
And I did it because I wanted to.
Let’s go all the way back to the first time we meet this baddie, Genesis 3:2-6, in the Garden of Eden:
The woman said to the serpent, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.’” The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die! “For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate.
So, did Satan cause her to eat the fruit? Not really. He did give her a reason to disobey, though. He is the accuser, and he accused God of telling a lie when He said they would die- the serpent said surely she would not die. But he NEVER said it was OK to eat the fruit! That would have then given us some justification to say Satan made her do it. But that wasn’t the case: Satan told her she would not die, but God had told her not to eat the fruit. And as we read, she chose to eat from her own desire to do so.
For the record, what would have happened if she hadn’t eaten? I think that Adam and Eve would have been allowed to eat, sooner or later, and if I am right, they would still be alive today…maybe? In any event, there was no talk at that point of lifespans, only after, so it is clear (to me) that because she ate, and subsequently was thrown out of the garden, what resulted from eating the fruit is that they would eventually die. So God did not lie, did he?
Look, here’s how it works: the Devil will not make you sin- you cannot use his lies or deceptive talk as an excuse for your sin. The desire to sin is already in us- all the Devil does is help us to justify and rationalize what we do of our own free will! He is an instigator, he is a deceiver, and he is a catalyst to perform sin, but he is not the cause.
When we realize this and come to confess ownership of our sins, only then can we truly begin to do T’shuvah, to turn from our sin and repent of it… and mean it.
We often hear that we should “give our sins to God”; there is sometimes a problem with this, though- you cannot give away what you do not own. There are people who blame the devil or always have some excuse for their sinful actions, and these people do not “own” their sin. As such, since they do not own it, they cannot give it away, so it sticks to them like peanut butter to the top of your palette. Only when we recognize and accept the sinfulness of our actions and desires can we even start to control them, and then we can give them to God. He is very willing to take them from us, to delete the “Steven’s Sins” file, to erase the mark of Cain from our souls. And he is able to do it, too! Through Yeshua’s sacrifice, we have an intercessor who will never go away, a Cohen HaGadol (High Priest) who will always provide the pathway back to God we need by means of His sacrificial death and the power behind His resurrection.
But until we are willing to confess our sinfulness, we can ask all we want to have forgiveness and what will be given will not last: not because of anything on God’s side, but because until we “own” our sin we can’t give it away. And if you are the type of person who finds yourself making excuses for your sin, it’s time to: “Wake up! Wake up! For your light has come!” (Isaiah), and that light is able to expose the truth of your sinfulness. It is also able to cleanse you of it.
George Carlin used to say that it’s funny how everyone thinks their own farts don’t smell that bad. When your sin doesn’t seem to be that bad, when you tell yourself it wasn’t really your fault- someone else made you do that, or someone else should have stopped you- the truth is that your farts do stink just as bad as everyone else’s!
We all need to stop blaming the Devil for what we do and take responsibility for our actions. True repentance cannot come from blaming someone else, and true repentance is the only way that God will be able to take the sin away, once and for all. Not because God is limited, but because when you truly repent you will give it away and not take it back.
We can never be sinless, but we can always sin less.
Start sinning less today; when you hear that little voice tell you why it will be OK to do what the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) tells you will not be OK, tell that little voice it’s farts stink to high heaven!