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Is it the Devil or My Own Sinful Desires?

Comedian Flip Wilson popularized the phrase “the devil made me do it,” back in the 1970’s. A few years later the first Stars Wars film introduced the dark side as an alternative excuse for why someone makes a bad decision. While Jesus did battle a real Devil early in the first century, the apostle Paul makes the best argument in Romans 7 and Romans 8 for why people continue to sin and fall short of God’s glory daily.

And the tempter came and said to Him, If You are God’s Son, command these stones to be made [[a]loaves of] bread. But He replied, It has been written, Man shall not live and be upheld and sustained by bread alone, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God. Then the devil took Him into the holy city and placed Him on [b]a turret (pinnacle, [c]gable) of the temple [d]sanctuary. And he said to Him, If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down; for it is written, He will give His angels charge over you, and they will bear you up on their hands, lest you strike your foot against a stone. Jesus said to him, [e]On the other hand, it is written also, You shall not tempt, [f]test thoroughly, or [g]try exceedingly the Lord your God, Matthew 4:3-7.

Galatians 5:16-25 highlights the internal struggle that every human being faces. You can follow Jesus by keeping in step with the Holy Spirit, Galatians 5:25. Or you can choose to fulfill any earthly pleasure that you may have by indulging your fleshly desires, Romans 8:5-8. Free will offers everyone daily opportunities to decide for yourself like the archangel Lucifer and 1/3 of the angels in heaven.

We know that the Law is spiritual; but I am a creature of the flesh [carnal, unspiritual], having been sold into slavery under [the control of] sin. 15 For I do not understand my own actions [I am baffled, bewildered]. I do not practice or accomplish what I wish, but I do the very thing that I loathe [[b]which my moral instinct condemns]. 16 Now if I do [habitually] what is contrary to my desire, [that means that] I acknowledge and agree that the Law is good (morally excellent) and that I take sides with it. 17 However, it is no longer I who do the deed, but the sin [principle] which is at home in me and has possession of me, Romans 7:14-17.

Jesus’ earthly brother addresses the question: did the Devil make me do it or am I my worst enemy? James 1:13-15 clarifies that God is not to blame. Rather, enticement and lust continue to deceive and lead astray millions of people, especially Christians. Just like Eve in Genesis 3:3-6, a second glance at the Tree of Knowledge hooked her immediately. In Eve’s mind, the decision to sin was conceived. While one of Jesus’ disciples suggests that the Devil does know our weaknesses, 1 Peter 5:8, how you respond to temptation is often based upon your mindset, 1 Corinthians 10:13. Look for the way out of sinning.

by Jay Mankus

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