If you’re human, you have undoubtedly, at some point in your life, blamed other people or things for your failings. Doubtless, you have also been on the receiving end of blame.
Since the Fall, man has not ceased to point blame everywhere else but within. We blame circumstances, fellow men, Satan, and sometimes even God himself. For the purposes of our subject, we will today interest ourselves with the third victim, namely Satan.
As Old As Humanity
A finger-pointing attitude may have begun in our lives when as little children, we’d blame Satan for provoking us to steal mommy’s sugar — to which most of our parents would gladly respond, “Okay, we’ll cane ‘Satan’ then,” but this sinful reaction boasts its roots much farther back in history.
When man willfully rebelled against God and allowed sin into God’s world, his immediate response was guilt. His innocence was immediately stripped away, for which he tried to cover with a laughable attempt (Genesis 3:7). Questioned, a string of blames ensued: the man faulted the woman (and by extension God) for his sin, and the woman faulted the Serpent (Gen 3:12-13). Humanity has only spiralled downwards since, ever piling excuses for sin.
The Devil Made Me Do It
In the 1970s, comedian Flip Wilson popularized the catchphrase, “The Devil made me do it”. Geraldine, a character on Flip’s variety show who had a knack for getting onto the husband’s nerves (whether by spending extravagantly on a dress or crashing a car into the side of a church), would ever if confronted, respond thus, “It wasn’t me. The devil made me do it.”
Geraldine’s pet excuse strikes a cord of familiarity with most of us. But whether intentionally or not, every time we employ Geraldine’s beloved excuse, we attribute more power to Satan than he really might have. Can Satan really “make” us do anything we don’t want to do? The short answer is no. To all believers, Jesus made it clear that the One who is in us is greater than the one in the world (1 John 4:4). The truth is, the Devil doesn’t have any power over us. But the Devil can be persuasive. He is a schemer, and we are not to be ignorant of his schemes (2Corinthians 2:11).
The Bible states, “No temptation has overtaken you [Christian] that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation, he will also provide the way of escape that you may be able to endure it” ( Corinthians 10:13-14). With this in mind, we must joyfully accept our light responsibility to obey the Lord rather than shift blame for our misdeeds onto some demonic force.
The Devil presents the bait. For example, the Devil may not show a young couple the pain and anguish and the years of regret that premarital sex brings; he deceives them with temporary enjoyment and a false sense of freedom from responsibility. He 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. She gave some to her husband, who unfortunately also fell prey.
The Devil, knowing our fallenness, uses our desires to lure us into sin. However, instead of taking responsibility for their actions, many blame the Devil for their poor choices.
Taking Responsibility in a World of Excuses
Lloyd H. Steffen wrote in The Christian Century how when King Frederick II, an eighteenth-century king of Prussia, during a visit to a prison in Berlin was met by the inmates pleading their innocence in the hope of pardon. But one man who sat quietly in a corner, seemingly oblivious to all the commotion, drew the King’s attention. “What are you in for?” the King asked. “Armed robbery, your Honor,” the man replied. “Were you guilty?” proceeded the King. “Yes, Sir,” he answered. “I entirely deserve my punishment.” At that, the King called for a guard saying, “Release this man. I don’t want him corrupting all these innocent people.”
We must see our sin the way God sees it and stop playing the fruitless blame game. We often hide because we don’t want to be vulnerable or naked before people. “There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed or hidden that will not be made known” (Luke 12:2). “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). To confess means agreeing with, admitting, professing, acknowledging, or coming clean. We must call sin what God calls it. Hiding actually does us more harm than good. We end up losing the confidence of approaching God’s throne because sin hinders our fellowship with God. To be clear, only our guilt tends to send us away from God. However, God’s arms are always open to receive us, even with our sinful tendencies.
To keep a vibrant fellowship with the Lord, we need to live by his Word. Jesus Christ, God himself, overcame the Devil by referring to the Word of God. We will undoubtedly go through various trials and temptations, yet we must remember that God has given us everything we need for godliness and life (2 Peter 1:3). There is, therefore, no reason to justify our sins since we are sure of forgiveness when we confess to the Lord and repent of our sinful ways (1John 1:9).