The Devil Made Me Do it!

The Blame Game has gone totally viral! We find someone besides ourselves to blame for anything that goes wrong. We shrug off responsibility for our sin, blaming the tempter. It would be comical if it weren’t so deadly.

 Jms. 4:7b “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”

I fear that most of us move blithely through our days relatively unaware of the warfare being waged against our souls. Our spiritual enemies allure and attack. If we belong to God we have power to resist. James reminds us to be on guard against at least three enemies:

1. The world’s influence that summons us to sin, seeking to press us into its mold, making us just like everyone else and reducing the influence of our uniqueness. (Matt 13:22 & 16:26; John 1:10; 12:25, 46; 14:17, 27; 15:18, 19; 16:33;  & 17:14; Rom 12:2; 1 John 2:15-17; Phil 2:15; Col 2:8)                                                                  

2. Our own self-absorption and selfish desires, our history, the tapes we play in our heads, our own “flesh” is a fierce enemy. (Rom. 7:22-25 & 8:1-14 & 13:14; Gal 5:17-21, 24 & 6:8)                                                                                          

3. Satan himself hitches a ride on the first two quite often and makes his own frontal attacks in addition, to destroy our walk with God if we belong to him – and to preoccupy the mind of those who are not yet Christ followers, so they will not consider becoming one. (1 Pet. 5:8; Eph. 2:2 & 6:10-12; 2 Cor. 4:4; Rev. 12:9-10; Matt. 13:19)

In addition to what we learn from scripture about this warfare, we have Screwtape Letters, the valuable little book God directed C. S. Lewis to write. In both places we learn the tactics of our enemies and the danger of forgetting we are engaged in a great spiritual war.

We are to resist the ever-present temptation to sin and keep on resisting, no matter how good it looks – and eventually the enemy will cease to tempt us in that manner; he will flee. Do you have all the strength you need to do that continual resisting? I certainly do not! In my own strength I am a total wuss, giving in to the slightest temptation and finding myself defeated.

The offensive maneuver that assures victory is in the first part of this verse. James tells us  “Submit yourself to God.” When we do that, initially in an act of saving faith that redeems our soul and makes us a child of God, and then again & again as we face temptation (not to be redeemed all over again but in order to be empowered to resist), we will have the grace we need which means we will have the power we need.

Those enemies, the world’s pressure to make me just like everyone else, my own desires to have what I want, and Satan himself, cannot have the soul of one who has been given faith and made a child of God. But they will fight fiercely to make us ineffective as Christians so our light fails to shine and our words lose credibility – so we lose all influence as we seek to encourage others to become followers of Christ.

The appropriate way to handle this spiritual warfare in which we are engaged is to submit to God and pray regularly for empowerment from God to resist temptation, keeping our focus on God himself, battling to obey him all the way to the end of this earth-life!

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