can the devil make you sin?
The Upward Look, by Jon Forrest
Can the Devil Make You Sin?
From the Huntingdon Daily News, ocr, pg 2. December 7, 1971. PITTSBURGH.
A federal judge has refused to order Satan to quit placing temptations before a 22-year-old inmate at Western Penitentiary who claimed the Devil caused his downfall. The devil with it all, said US District Court Judge Gerald J. Weber on Monday when he threw the case out of court because federal marshals could not produce the devil. Gerald Mayo of Reading, Pa, filed the petition for the injunction against Satan and his staff, and argued Satan violated his constitutional rights by placing irresistible obstacles in his path. Weber said the nearest thing he could find to a precedent was Stephen Vincent Benet’s short story 'The Devil and Daniel Webster' where Webster contended Satan was a foreign prince and could not sue in America courts. Although he did not go that far, Weber said Mayo failed to show Satan lives within the court’s jurisdiction and that federal marshals were not told how Satan could be summoned.
You may recall a once popular comedian named Flip Wilson who had a variety/comedy show for a few years on NBC from 1970 to 1974. On this show Wilson frequently portrayed a flamboyant female character named Geraldine in weekly skits. Geraldine was known for her outrageous antics, but before the end of almost every skit she would blurt out her standard declaration that would absolve her of whatever trouble she had gotten into when she yelled out, “The devil made me do it!”
So, here is the question of the day. Does the devil, as suggested by Mr. Mayo in his lawsuit or Geraldine in her skits, force us to commit sin? Are we all helpless victims of his power?
There is no doubt, the evil one is out to get us. He is a destroyer of people’s lives. 1 Peter 5:8 says, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”
From the garden of Eden, he has been out to trip up God’s people through all sorts of deceit and trickery. This is called temptation. Every single one of us is under the onslaught of temptation. Satan wants us to sin so he can accuse us before God and bring destruction into our lives.
But we must understand something. The devil is on a short leash and God holds the end. When Satan wanted to attack God’s loyal servant Job, God allowed him to do so, but gave him limitations. The first time he told him that he could do anything to him except touch him personally. When he failed to corrupt Job that way, Satan told God he could get him to curse God if he could touch his health. God then allowed him to touch Job, but would not let him take Job’s life.
Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 10:13, “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”
You can never say that you are tempted more than anyone else. It’s all common to mankind. And God limits temptation to stay within our own personal limitations. And, through his faithfulness, God always provides a way of escape simultaneous to the moment of the temptation. You have a way out if you will see it and take it. The trouble for many of us is that we may already want to give in because deep inside it’s what we want.
Hebrews 4:15 speaks of Jesus when it says, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.”
Jesus proved that sin can be resisted. However, we struggle because we have a difficult time letting go of our fleshly desires. James writes about this in his letter in chapter 1 and verses 13-15, “When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.”
While we should avoid temptation as much as we can, we cannot escape it completely. But it is important to understand that, while temptation encourages sin, it is not, in itself, sin.
Thankfully Christ came to conquer sin through his death on the cross, his burial in the tomb and his powerful, undeniable resurrection from the dead. When he rose from the grave, he conquered Satan and the sin he left within us because of personal weakness. Romans 8:1-3 says, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering.”
In verse 37 Paul blurts in out, “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”
Jesus came to conquer sin and its results in us.
1 John 4:4 reads, “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”
When Jesus Christ is in you, you become a conqueror, an overcomer by his power in you because the evil one who is in the world is not nearly as great as the One, the Son of the living God, who resides in you. He overcomes and so do you.
Satan can’t make you sin!
This Sunday we will look at the 8th segment of our series of messages from 1 John titled “The Jesus Difference” with a message based on 1 John 4:1-6 that I have called, Overcomers. Plan to be part of the Overcomers’ Brigade as we encourage you with this powerful message from the Word of God.
Overcoming with you,