Does The Devil Make Us Do Things?
"When the devil had ended all the temptations, he departed from him until another time." Luke 4:13 One simple story I heard illustrates an example of “an opportune time." Jim was trying to save all the pennies that he could in order to buy a baseball bat, but it was a hard struggle. One night when he was saying his prayers, his mother heard him pray fervently, "O Lord, please help me save my money for a baseball bat. And God, don't let the ice cream man come down this street anymore!" He knew that if the ice cream man went by, he wouldn’t have the strength to not give him his money in exchange for an ice cream. Isn't that true of temptation? Evil is a baited and camouflaged trap. That's so important to note: we can miss evil for what it really is until after it has accomplished its purpose. Only by comparing thoughts and actions to God's Word can we have the insight to see beyond the circumstances. Being tempted isn't sin - surrendering to it is. But temptation is also an opportunity to do what is right by turning from it. "No temptation has taken you except what is common to man. God is faithful, and he will not permit you to be tempted above what you can endure, but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that you may be able to bear it." First Corinthians 10:13 The door of temptation swings both ways - you can enter or exit. If we choose to enter, once inside we will not see the exit sign so clearly anymore. The flesh is in rebellion against God. The flesh - although it feels comfortable and natural, is not a friend to be trusted. "The carnal mind is enmity against God." Romans 8:7 Enmity is not just an enemy, an enemy can be reconciled, enmity is direct opposition to the will of God. It cries, "Feed me so I can destroy you ... destroy your health, your relationships, your life, your soul." Satan has been deceiving since the beginning of time. When the woman in Genesis 3:6 "saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom" she succumbed to temptation (took the bait) and rejected God's word. Nothing has changed. The devil still presents the bait as gain or pleasure, but instead of taking responsibility for our actions, many blame people or circumstances for their poor choices. Someone said, "The devil made me get drunk last night" ...but the person planned the trip to Vegas weeks prior. Although the enemy will come against our family, finances and lusts ...we must take responsibility for our own poor choices. "For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father but is of the world." 1 John 2:16 But God has told us what our response must be: "Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." James 4:7 Be aware of "opportune times." In battle, the enemy attacks at opportune times. Scripture reminds us that the world entices through cravings for physical pleasure and through covetousness, and through pride in our achievements and possessions. These are three areas where the enemy will concentrate his focus when we’re most likely to respond. Be aware of these "opportune times." The source of our strength comes from the food that we choose. What we feed grows, and what grows becomes the strong and dominating force within our lives. Sin never stands still, it either grows or withers depending on whether we feed or starve it. Who is shaping your thoughts? A daily diet of violence, lust, anger, etc, will fuel those very things in your life. The devil doesn't make us do anything; he simply presents the bait. When you truly seek God's help, you can control temptation instead of allowing temptation to control you. The key is to pray for strength and wisdom, and to always be mindful of the warfare perpetrated against us. When we yield to temptation, we walk willingly into the enemy's camp. An immediate exit at the first sign of temptation is the only way to stop it.