We have all (well, maybe not all, it’s not polite to be presumptuous) have said or at least heard said, “The devil made me do it.” Satan is a busy fallen angel but he isn’t always responsible for every time we fall into sin. He certainly sets a lot of traps and stages circumstances that may lead to open doors for opportunities for sin. I had a conversation with someone about their marriage. He and his wife had been going through a rough patch in their marriage. They were having a difficult time, which happens to all of us, and were probably having doubts. He said that in the middle of this time he received a phone call from an ex-girlfriend, someone he had not spoken to in years. He thought it strange but I believe that I rightly attributed the phone call as something Satan probably orchestrated. Satan doesn’t care about anything except destroying the work of God.
I think we give Satan the credit for things he doesn’t do or had a direct hand in doing, and I think we don’t credit him with things he does do in order to undermine the church. An example is individual sins. We all have some type of weakness and Satan knows where to attack. But there are times when he does not need to do anything because we have become brazenly stupid and venture into places we know are temptation traps of sin. But there are other times where he finds someone who becomes a willful partner in deceiving the church. Someone who uses just enough scripture to add an authentic air to their message but their intent is to give heretical views of orthodoxy and lead people down paths that are not grounded in scripture but in lofty feelings and empty intelligence.
We hear of pastors of megachurches and assume that because they have a large congregation that they must a hotline to heaven. They put out DVD series to use and teach but sometimes I wonder if they are doing it because they want to sell more stuff or if they are really being used by God. Satan tempted Jesus with the riches of all the kingdoms of the world but Jesus refused. The allure of riches and comfortable living sure can be tempting.
Satan uses all types of weapons at his disposal to cripple the workings of God. Sometimes, he only needs to make something forbidden available and wait for endless people to fall into the trap. Sometimes people are just so caught up in their sense of entitlement that Satan doesn’t need to do anything at all. He cannot read our minds but he does have a keen and shrewd sense of observance, and he and his other fallen angels use that knowledge of our weaknesses against us. Satan cannot push or force us to sin. He can only present opportunities for us to sin. And Satan and the fallen angels cannot do anything without permission from God. The purpose of this is so that we come to rely on the Lord for our strength to overcome temptation, not on our own ability.
Next time you fall into sin, look at the path you had been walking down because it will always show you who really is to blame. But remember, Jesus is always ready, willing and faithful to forgive every time we fall.