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The Devil Made Me Do It  

Article By Dr. David E. Schroeder
It’s a joke, right? The idea that the devil made me do? It is usually used as a somewhat humorous excuse nobody really believes, but it’s a good way to trivialize our miscues. Even people who don’t believe in a real devil may use that phrase. But hardly anyone believes it, and neither do I.
I don’t believe the devil can make anyone do anything. But I do believe Satan has far more influence on individuals and society than we imagine. Am I unduly superstitious or naively paranoid? I don’t think so, (but as a friend says, Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you:).
For the past three years I have been writing a book on spiritual warfare — not a topic I chose; it chose me. Let me explain. For the past few decades I have had the privilege and assignment of serving on international mission boards in Asia and Europe, requiring annual trips. I’ve also traveled in ministry to countries in Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America. Unless one goes strictly as a tourist to these countries I have been in and remains antiseptically remote from these cultures, or if one has no spiritual eyesight whatsoever, the presence of very dark forces is obvious. Our western, spiritually dumbed-down worldview cannot explain much of what I have seen.
To gain a better biblical handle on the spiritual worldview presented in the Bible and believed in many less advanced (?) cultures, I began studying an old book I was exposed to as a teenager –The Authority of the Believer by John A. MacMillan. Then I supplemented that with heavy doses of Neil Anderson and Michael Heiser. Several more trips into animist, Buddhist, and Communist countries opened my eyes even more. Consequently, I felt compelled to write The Lion, the Church, and the Warfare, which I anticipate will be released this fall.
So, back to the question of whether the devil makes us do it, meaning commit sins. The answer, I believe, is a definite Yes and No. All sin and evil are ultimately traceable back to the success of the tempter, the adversary, which is the meaning of satan. So, yes, he’s to blame. But, No, he isn’t. He can only tempt. Satan cannot force anyone to sin. True, the devil is deceptively seductive, and he knows how to play on our weaknesses, but ultimately we are responsible for our own sins. It just won’t fly when you stand before God the Judge and say, “The devil made me do it.”
So, how can we successfully “Just say No.” Two ideas come to mind: 1) Choose to fear the right lion; not the roaring lion who seeks to devour you (1 Peter 5:8), but the Lion of the tribe of Judah who has prevailed and has authority (Revelation 5:5). 2) Die. Die to yourself, a concept found in the gospels and epistles. Die to your rights, your reputation, your plans, your amusements, your possessions — die to everything that Satan can get his claws on to take you down. And don’t forget to die to your unbiblical worldview that tries to make a joke of God’s enemy.