When I was very young, there was a comedian by the name of Flip Wilson who had a TV show. I don’t remember the show all that well because, like I said, I was very young. But I do remember that one of his routines made popular the saying, “The Devil made me do it.” It became common to hear people use that phrase to excuse any kind of inappropriate action that they may have committed. Did you eat the last piece of cake? Yes, but the devil made me do it.
Interestingly, people today still use a similar excuse for bad behaviour, though they may not use the same words anymore. Somehow in their minds they believe that Satan has power over them. Nothing makes Satan happier, I’m sure. Yes, Satan will surely put temptations in our way. In the book of Job, we see that Satan spends his time roving around the earth looking for someone to provoke. (Job 1:7, Job 2:2) I Peter 5:8 tells us that we need to be alert and aware because Satan is surely out to devour us. He does this very cunningly, by deception. He doesn’t want us to know that his goal is to devour us; he makes it look much more pleasant than that, (II Corinthians 11:14) but what he really wants is to turn us away from God.
The truth is that if we have God on our side, we are more powerful than Satan. God gives us this promise, with instruction, in James 4:7-8. The instruction is to submit to God and resist the devil, to cleanse our hands and make our hearts pure. We are still responsible for the choices that we make. We need to focus on God and His purposes, instead of our own human desires. (James 1:13-15) We need to think with an eternal perspective. Sometimes we just need to think before we act. Then the promise comes into effect. If we resist the devil, the devil will flee from us. If we draw near to God, God will draw near to us. In both cases we need to take the first step. We are not just puppets in this game. We are responsible for the decisions we make and for the actions we take. But the more we spend time with God, through prayer and Bible study, the more easily we will be able to recognize Satan’s schemes and then make good choices.
The following video is an example of Flip Wilson's routine: