Season: 8 Episode: 114
How much of life’s problems is because of the devil? How much power over your life does he really have? It may surprise you to hear the answer. Shanda breaks down why it’s important to know your enemy and why it may not be the devil’s fault at all.
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Hey guys! Welcome back to another episode of Her Faith Inspires podcast where we take cultural issues and align them to biblical truth. I have a great episode for you today, but first I want to ask you to please leave a 5-star rating and review if you enjoy this podcast. I am now on YouTube with both podcast episodes and short 5-minute videos where I go in more depth on my Friday quotes. So you can subscribe to my youtube channel, @shandafulbright.
Ok, so today we are evaluating the question: did the devil make me do it?
Have you ever met someone who blamed the devil when they stubbed their toe? Or if the sound equipment stopped working at church, the music director told the congregation the devil didn’t want them worshiping God, as if the devil went and unplugged the sound equipment?
Is everything that happens in life the devil’s fault? Is everything that doesn’t go our way all because the devil made us do something or caused something? That’s what we need to discover? But the better question is: why do we need to know? Why do we need to be able to identify the enemies role in our lives and the reason for the things happening around us?
We will not know how to face trials, temptations, or spiritual battles unless we know the reason for why we go through what we do. We must be able to discern what is the enemy and what is a result or consequence of our own actions. Because those are the only 2 things that it can be.
So, we are going to talk about that today by looking at:
- How much control does Satan have in our lives?
- How do we know if what we’re going through is because of our own doing?
- Why is life so hard and how do we face the challenges of it?
How much control does Satan have in our lives?
I love Genesis 1-3. I feel like these 3 chapters give us so much insight into God’s sovereignty, our humanity and the enemies tactics. If you look at Genesis 3, you see the tactics of the enemy right away.
First, notice that he twists God’s words. That is one of his major tactics and it goes right along with the trait that Jesus called him out on … he is a liar and the father or lies. He is a deceiver, a manipulator and he seeks to destroy those who give him the opportunity to do so.
We see these same tactics used on Jesus in the wilderness in Matthew 4. The enemy will first try and deceive with the word. He’s not out to unplug sound equipment or to make you stub your toe. His tactics are bigger than that. Now, that’s not to say the enemy will not cause physical harm. We see he was allowed by God to touch Job’s person and wreak havoc on his life. The only thing God told him he wasn’t allowed to do was to kill Job. Which is a great example of God’s sovereignty because Satan can only do what God allows him to do. And tis is what we see in Job. The hard part to understand here is why Job, a good and just man, had to go through such hardship.
But his #1 tactic is to deceive by twisting the word of God.
There are numerous examples of this right now in the culture with people who call themselves Christians and twist the word of God, but that will have to be for another episode.
If the enemy used this tactic on the Son of God, he will use it on you. So the best way to be on the defense against this tactic is to know the word. Not to know someone else’s interpretation or to know what someone tells you, but to properly study it for yourself and know the word. Just because something sounds good, that doesn’t mean it is good. It has to be true or else it only sounds good because it tickles the ear.
A second tactic of the enemy is he tempts. Look again at Genesis 2. The enemy chose the thing that was forbidden by God and drew Eve’s attention to it. Notice first that he twisted God’s word, then he tempted her with the fruit. He got her to turn her gaze again to the very thing God said not to eat.
Did the enemy pick the fruit for her?
Did he make her eat of it? He didn’t make Adam eat from it. Eve handed it to Adam. The enemy cannot make you do anything. He cannot make you sin. He can only tempt you to sin.
James 1:13 says that when we are tempted, do not say God tempted you. Because God cannot tempt anyone. The enemy is not going to try and make you obey God. He is going to tempt you with the things that are going to separate you from God.
Many people blame the devil because they think he forces them to sin. But I want to stress the fact that the devil cannot make you do anything. He tempts us and that is the best he can do.
A third tactic of the enemy is that he causes doubt. Again, go back to Genesis 3 and notice that he begins his sentence with, “Did God really say …?” He wants us to doubt God’s word, God’s sovereignty and God’s authority. The devil doesn’t care if you worship him. He is not trying to be the God of your life. He wants you to worship yourself. Humanity will always worship something and if they don’t worship God, they will worship some created thing.
I also want to add a sidetone: whenever someone creates an idol in their lives, they are making their own God, which is basically rooted in self because it correlates to our own desires.
The enemy also causes division, he is the accuser, but his main tactics are the ones I mentioned: twisting scripture (deceiving), tempting, and planting seeds of doubt. But there are ways to combat that. We do not have to put up with or be defeated by the enemies tactics.
We must know them and we must identify them.
The best way to be on guard against all 3 of these tactics is to know the word. If you know the word, he cannot deceive you. If you know the word, when temptation comes and you have the word hidden in your heart, you will be reminded of it when temptation comes and it will be easier to obey God rather than your desires. When you know the word, you will stand on the truth of it when doubt comes your way.
Can I make it anymore clear that you must know the word? Know the word for yourself. Don’t take my word for it, your pastors word for it, a social media influencers word for it … you study it and you know it.
So I want to make clear again that the enemy does not have control over your life. What he does to you, you can stand against, and if God sets the boundaries of what he can do over you, and He does, that means God has allowed it for your good even though we don’t always understand why.
How do we know if what we’re going through is because of our own doing or if it’s the devil?
This is a big one I think is important because it has to do with owning our sin. A lot of times people want to know why they’re going through what they are but they never evaluate their own decisions or choices. If you smoke and get cancer because of it, why would you ask why? It’s a consequence. If you get drunk and drive, causing an accident, why would you ask why? If you’re a hot head and blow up and can’t control your mouth and people stay away from you or you lose friends because of it, why would you ask why?
I know people who say, “I’m not trying to make excuses for my actions, but …” and then they proceed to tell me why they said what they did, or did what they did. When you say, “I don’t want to make excuses” and then put the word “but” after that … you just made an excuse for your actions. You are not taking ownership.
Again, we can go back to Genesis 3 and see the nature of man after the fall has the tendency to make excuses and blame others for their sin. When God asked Adam, “Who told you you were naked?” Adam said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me the fruit and I ate.” Adam never said, “Sorry God, I ate the fruit you told me not to eat. I should have stopped the enemy from waltzing into my home you gave me and deceiving my wife, but I stood by and let the whole thing happen. I’m sorry.”
And when God asked Eve why she ate, she said, “The serpent deceived me and I ate.”
She blamed the serpent and never took ownership of her actions. So it is now in our human nature to not want to be wrong or to take the blame for wrongdoing. We have to war against that. I know I do. It’s hard to admit when you’re wrong but that is the reason David was a man after God’s heart … he owned his sin and repented of it because he wanted God’s presence in his life.
One of the ways to recognize whether or not what we’re going through is because of our own sin is to evaluate the root of the problem. I spoke about this in episode 112: You reap what you sow and if you haven’t listened to that yet, I recommend you go back and listen to it because it will help a lot. It’s about getting to the root of the problem.
Anything God deems a sin will reap the consequences of corruption to the flesh. That means it will cause hardship, bitterness and sorrow. So we must identify whether what we’re going through is a consequence of disobedience and sowing to the flesh, or whether it is spiritual warfare because those are the only two options.
Now, the devil cannot make you do anything, but I am speaking from a Christian perspective. Those that are not Christians are what the Bible calls slaves to sin. 1 John 5:19 says, “We know that we are of God, but the whole world lies under the control/sway/power of the evil one.”
That doesn’t mean that non-Christians are the devils puppets and have lost their freewill.
It means they are slaves to their own human nature because they have not given their hearts to Christ, making Him Lord of their lives. They will easily fall for the enemies lies, and do the desires of their father the devil. Jesus made this very clear that you are either a child of God or a child of the devil when He spoke to the pharisees and said, “You are of your father the devil for the desires of your father you want to do.” That is why non-believers are under the sway or power of the devil. Now, if you want to hear more about that, let me know and we can go deeper into it, but for the sake of this episode we need to stay on the main question: did the devil make you do it?
Again, we are talking from a Christian perspective and the short answer is NO. In fact, you don’t need the devil to sin. We talk about this in Baseline Apologetics and go into detail as to why that is. That will be a shock to many. Let me also make a clear distinction here that there is no neutrality with this: you are either a child of God or a child of the devil. You are either a slave to sin or a slave to Christ. There is no other option. But if you belong to God and you desire to do the commands of God, the devil cannot make you do anything. He is not your master.
But I digress. Let’s go back to identifying whether or not our actions and sin is what is causing hardship in our lives.
In the episode, “You reap what you sow” (112), I talk about getting to the root of the issues in our lives. There are only two options: the consequence of sin or spiritual warfare. But God tells us what we ought to do to keep His commands:
Do not steal, do not bear else witness, do not murder, do not covet, honor your parents, etc. But Jesus took this further and said if a man lusts after a woman in his heart, he has committed adultery. Jesus took the commands to the root of the problem and said our thoughts will condemn us if we’re not careful.
This is what He says in Matthew 5: “You have heard that it was said to those [a]of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother [b]without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’[c] shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, [d]‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of [e]hell fire. 23 Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. 25 Agree with your adversary quickly, while you are on the way with him, lest your adversary deliver you to the judge, the judge hand you over to the officer, and you be thrown into prison. 26 Assuredly, I say to you, you will by no means get out of there till you have paid the last penny.”
Jesus goes from the act of keeping the commands to the heart of keeping the commands.
Obedience to God begins in the heart, not in the deed. What does that mean? It means if we are reaping the consequences of our sin, be honest with yourself and get to the heart of the matter. Don’t jump to blaming the devil because that won’t fix anything.
Side note: The devil doesn’t care if you blame him. As long as you don’t take responsibility for your sin and repent, he’s OK with taking the blame because it isn’t going to change his fate. The only person whose fate is affected by lying to themselves about sin is you. 90% of the time we cause our own problems in our lives. It’s not the devil.
Why is life hard and how do we face the challenges of it?
Life is hard because we live in a broken world. Again, Genesis 3 explains it all. Adam and Eve’s sin caused them hardship. It had eternal consequences. They blamed the devil, but really, it was their fault. Sure, he tempted them. Sure, he caused doubt. But in the end, the consequences of their sin is now a broken world and we all have a choice to make: to obey God or give in to our own desires and become our own god.
There are times when life is just going to be hard. Death was never supposed to be part of life, but now it is. The death of a loved one hurts. But the Bible says we do not mourn as those who have no hope. Even with something as terrible as death, Christ gives the hope of seeing our loved ones again one day.
There are all kinds of diseases, cancer, natural disasters. I remember when the reality of disease in the Bible hit me, even with people like David and Elisha who was a great prophet and had double the anointing as Elijah who was before him. Both David and Elisha died with disease and a failing body. They were great men of God, but their bodies wore out and the affects of the fall crept into their lives too.
Life is hard, but God promises to never leave us nor forsake us.
He will always be with us. God promises to bring good from the things we don’t understand and don’t see as good. He promises to help us endure to the end, to provide a way of escape during temptation so that we always have a choice to make when we are tempted to go astray but want to hold on so we don’t disobey Him. Jesus understands every temptation and trap and snare of the enemy because He took on flesh and was tempted in every way yet without sin.
And He promises to restore the joy of our salvation when we identify the hardship is because of the consequence of sin and we repent. He gives us armor when the battle is spiritual and He hears us when we cry out to Him when the pain is too great to bear.
Jesus never ever promised life would be easy. In fact, after He died and rose again He said, “In this world you will have trouble, but take heart, I have overcome the world.”
The enemy has been defeated.
He is limited in his power and his time. The world is ugly right now and it gets uglier every day. Sometimes I cannot believe we got here so fast with our culture condoning the sin and evil God does not condone. But God has put us here for this time for a purpose. You are not here by accident.
If I could give you any advice, I would say the time is short. Don’t waste it on trivial things. The devil’s tactics are bigger than unplugging sound equipment or making you stub your toe. He prowls around like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. Does that sound like child’s play to you? It doesn’t to me. He is in the business of tempting you to sin, getting you to doubt God, and twisting the word of God.
We need to grow in our maturity in this area by discerning what is spiritual warfare and the tactics of the enemy and what is the consequence of our own sin.
I want to wrap this up today by encouraging you that if you have given your heart to Jesus, you are a child of God and the enemy has no sway over you. The best he can do is tempt you but the Bible says He provides a way of escape out of every temptation. You are not alone. When you go through a spiritual battle, you have the armor of God. Do not neglect the tools God has made available to you.
Discernment is a spiritual gift and Paul told us to pray for every gift. If you have a hard time discerning between sin and spiritual warfare, two things:
- Get in the word more. Identifying sin is not a mystery. God laid it out in His word. If we’re not sure what sin is, that means the culture is influencing us more than the word is. Don’t let that be. You have a bible, get in it.
2. Pray and ask God. He gives to those who ask and James said, “You don’t have because you don’t ask.” When is the last time you asked God for discernment? Also, ask God to search you and know you and when He reveals sin in your life, repent. It will change you and God will restore.
I am going to do another episode on why we don’t need the devil to sin. This one is a little deeper in theology but some of you have asked for more theology and I love talking about this stuff. It will help us better understand freewill and all of that, so that is coming in a couple of weeks.
In the meantime, if you have any questions about this or want me to talk about other things, send me an email at email@example.com and I’ll be sure to answer those for you and I’ll catch you on the next one.