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The Devil Didn’t Make You Do It, But He Tried

I ran across the title above while studying and researching for a sermon on (1 Corinthians 10: 13 NKJ) that plain but profound verse of Scripture, the apostle Paul challenges much modem thinking about temptation and sin and why people do and say some of the awful things they do. The verse says, No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it." These days it is common and popular to blame bad behavior on someone or something else besides the person who behaves badly. It reminds me of a story told by Alan Smith. Little Emily ran into the house, crying as though her heart was broken. "What's wrong, dear?" asked her father. "It's my doll! Billy broke it!" she sobbed. "How did he break it, Emily?" Dad asked. "I hit him over the head with it," she said between sobs. Emily was playing the "blame game." It says that when I give in to and act out on negative, destructive impulses like anger, lust, greed, jealousy, rage, etc., it's not my fault. It may be bad genes or the way my parents potty trained me or the fact that I was the middle child. It may be that I am poor and don't have enough money, or that I am rich and have too much money. It's the tobacco companies' fault, or the fast-food outlets' fault, or the government or the advertisers. But, "It's not my fault." "I couldn't help it." "He/she made me do it." Such is the language of people who have embraced and absorbed our culture's "blame-game" mentality. There are many victims but very few villains anymore. A man or woman commits adultery because "my mate doesn't make me happy anymore." A madman murders dozens on a college campus and behavioral t experts present a plethora of psychological explanations. A woman kills her preacher-husband with a shot- gun blast in the back, and her legal team's courtroom strategy is to put the dead preacher on trial in an effort to explain (away) the woman's behavior. And then there are folks who tell you they won't attend worship or serve or give to the Lord - and they insist with a straight face that it's the elders' or preachers' or somebody's fault, but not their own. Is anybody anywhere at fault for anything anymore?

It would do us well to read (Genesis 3 NKJ) often. Eve and then Adam ate forbidden fruit and got themselves in a real jam. When God challenged them, Adam blamed Eve and Eve, in the Garden of Eden Home Version of the old Flip Wilson Show, said in so many words, "The devil made me do it." God's response in essence is contained in the title above: "The devil didn't make you do it, but he tried." The devil can tempt you to sin. He can entice and allure and make bad look good and sin look fun. What he can't do is make you sin without your consent/choice. He can bait the hook, but he can't make you bite (James 1: 12-15 NKJ).. The good news is that when Satan sets a trap, God is ready and able to help us escape!

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ