Who is responsible? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
The church is odd in America. We talk too much about Heaven to the extent that the here and now doesn’t really matter at all. We also at the same time talk way too much about the devil. Whenever someone feels tempted by something, “Well that’s Satan trying to lead you into temptation.” The devil is practically treated as this omnipresent figure that has this huge massive plan and is working it out bit by bit.
The devil is not the opposite of God or the counterpart of God. This isn’t even a contest. There is no way the two are on an even remotely similar playing field.
Reality is that if you are a Christian, you cannot do anything about the devil really. Now I know you can give the Scripture and make him flee in that sense, but you do not control him literally. There is really only one person you control in this world and that is yourself.
If we keep saying to people over and over that the devil is tempting them, even if true, we are robbing them of something important. James also tells us that our temptations come from within and the desires that we have. We undergo temptation because we have a sin nature. Whether the devil is tempting us or not then is irrelevant. We have to fight the battle relying on the Holy Spirit, Scripture, etc.
This is the same kind of struggle we can talk about when it comes to addiction. If you struggle with alcohol and you remove the alcohol from your life to fight the addiction, you may deal with the behavior, but you don’t deal with the root. The addictive personality is still there. The problems that lead you to drinking are still there. Alcohol may be a source of evil for you, but it is not responsible for your suffering. You are. You need to own up to that and say “I am going to work on whatever it is in me that tells me that I need alcohol in my life.”
Many men struggle with porn and unless you move far away and live in a monastery, odds are you will not remove all women from your life and even if you did, you would still need to deal with the addictive personality. If you still want to have a good relationship with a woman, you are going to need to learn what it is in you that makes you want to engage in pornography. What is the lack that you are trying to fill in your life?
Too often in our churches we talk about Satan being the cause of our suffering in our life and our struggle with temptations. That does nothing to help us in our own personal dealings with suffering. We could quote the old saying of “We have met the enemy and he is us.” Even back in the garden, “The devil made me do it” defense was tried. It didn’t work then and it won’t work today. We know that for Adam and Eve, that defense was a way of them blaming someone else for their sin. If we repeat the claim, we are just repeating the sin of Adam and Eve.
Now why do I think we don’t do this? Because it’s just a whole lot easier to blame the devil for what we’re going through. If we go the other way, we have to look at ourselves and examine ourselves and consider all the things that we are doing wrong in our lives. That could take a lot of work. For some, that could even take therapy. We might have to spend a lot of time in repentance. Nah. It’s easier to blame the devil.
It is sure if we go that route, we will never work on the issues inside of us and we will never develop true Christian character. Not only that, instead of talking about the devil doing things to us, we could spend a lot more time talking about how Christ is transforming us. It would certainly be a lot more worthwhile.
We could also learn to rely on our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ and go to them in confession and listen to what they say about our sins. Sometimes they might call us our and we might not like that, but we need to hear it. They can also though speak forgiveness in our lives like we need to hear. We in turn can help them with their struggles. After all, I am someone who is not tempted with alcohol for example, so I can be strong for you when you’re not. You can be strong in areas where I am weak. It’s how we work together.
Christ has dealt with and will deal with the devil. Let’s stop focusing on the devil and work on ourselves.
(And I affirm the virgin birth)