“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.” 1 Peter 5:8-9
“But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.” Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you…” James 4:6-8
Maybe you’ve heard the old expression, “The devil MADE me do it.” And maybe you’ve heard it said, “The devil can’t MAKE us do anything.” It’s most assuredly true the devil can’t MAKE us do anything, but let’s not forget this. The devil can TELL us to do stuff. And this is exactly where we have to be careful. There are two extremes sometimes people go, and these are dangerous places to go.
On one extreme, some people believe the devil can MAKE us do wrong things. That’s not true.
On the other extreme, some people think not only can the devil not MAKE us do anything, but that the devil doesn’t even exist OR that the devil does exist but has no influence in our lives whatsoever and leaves us totally alone once we commit our lives to Christ.
The truth? The devil DOES exist, the devil CAN influence believers in Christ if we allow him to do so, and he does NOT leave Christ’s followers alone but instead tries to wreak havoc on our lives.
God in the Bible makes it totally clear the devil exists, that the devil goes after people (whether believers in Christ or not), and that we can be influenced, swayed, harmed, affected, hurt, damaged, distracted, lured, tempted, etc., by the devil if we’re not careful.
The devil can’t MAKE us do anything, but he can TELL us to do anything, and his purpose always is to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10). Christ’s followers have a CHOICE to NOT DO what the devil tells us to do, and God will give us the STRENGTH to say no to the devil, but we have to BE CAREFUL to recognize the devil’s voice and be willing to RESIST the devil in the STRENGTH of the SPIRIT OF GOD and the WORD OF GOD.
When we do wrong, it’s false to say, “the devil MADE me do it,” but we can say truthfully, “the devil TOLD me to do it.” HOWEVER, we CANNOT blame our wrongdoing on the devil. It is OUR RESPONSIBILITY to recognize the devil’s voice when he tries to convince us to SIN AGAINST GOD, and it’s OUR RESPONSIBILITY to SAY NO to the devil and YES to THE LORD JESUS CHRIST and to God’s righteous ways.
If you don’t believe the devil has a voice, the devil spoke to Eve in the Garden of Eden, he spoke to Jesus Christ in the wilderness, he spoke to God when he came after Job, he spoke to Ananias in the book of Acts, and he is ever coming after God’s people throughout the Bible.
If you SIN AGAINST GOD because “the devil TOLD you to do it,” the one responsible for wrongdoing, the one who needs to repent, and the one who needs to learn to say no to the devil, is NOT the devil. It’s YOU. And it’s ME. And it’s any and all of us who try to place the blame on the devil when the responsibility for following the Lord Jesus Christ and doing what’s right in God’s eyes is OURS!
The Lord not only calls us to turn away from evil, but he enables us to do so. Just because we hear the devil taunting us, and tempting us, and coming after us doesn’t mean we have to yield ourselves to him.
The one we need to yield ourselves to continually – who will give us the strength to yield ourselves to Him – is THE LORD.
It’s time to stop listening to the voice of the devil. It’s time to listen to the voice of the Lord. In Christ’s strength for God’s forever almighty glory, Amen!