Genesis 3:1-7 NIV
1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”
2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3 but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”
4 “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5 “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
6 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.
Years ago, a comedian named Flip Wilson became famous for his one liner “the devil made me do it.”
The fact is, we are all responsible for our actions and must be personally accountable for them. Satan, in effect, does NOT make us do anything. Everything we do or say is our choice. However, Satan does cause us to alter our thinking and start to doubt, just like he did with Eve. Let’s explore that a bit further.
Satan began his “mental” attack on Eve by causing her to doubt what God had said. “Did God really say that you couldn’t eat from any tree in the garden?” This started the process.
Eve responded “no, we can eat from the trees, but just not the one in the middle of the garden…and we can’t touch it or we shall die.”
Satan replied something to the effect “hogwash…you won’t die. God is keeping something good away from you. He doesn’t want your eyes opened because you’ll be like Him.”
Eve had allowed Satan to alter her thinking. She began to look at the fruit on the forbidden tree differently. Now it looked pleasing and appealing to her eye and she thought of it as good for food and acquiring wisdom. No longer did she fear what God had told them. So, she disobeyed God and ate the fruit.
Satan had won. Not by making her disobey God, but by altering her thoughts and thought process, along with instilling doubts in her mind.
The “devil didn’t make her do it”, she did it of her own free will.
SATAN WANTS TO ALTER OUR THINKING
We see how Satan dealt with Eve. He was deviously clever and manipulative.
This is exactly how he works on everyone.
He tries his best to take up residence in the corner of our mind, then work his craft from there.
Once Satan has established a position in our mind, he begins to alter the way we see and think about things.
For example, with Eve, he created doubt in her mind and she began to think the apple was pleasing to her eye. Then, if so, what harm could it do?
Remember, everything that we do or say originates in our mind, therefore we must be on guard and keep Satan out of our minds.
RATIONALIZATION & JUSTIFICATION ARE TOOLS OF SATAN
Satan causes worry, fear, anxiety, depression and doubt in the lives of Christians and non-Christians alike.
Further, he causes Christians to rationalize and justify their actions, when they are not acceptable to God. Again, look how he deceived Eve.
Two of Satan’s favorite weapons are the words rationalize and justify.
What does it mean to rationalize? It means to make something seem reasonable or an attempt to explain one’s actions with plausible reasons, even if these are not true or appropriate.
What does it mean to justify something? This means to show (or attempt to show), or prove something to be right or reasonable.
An example of rationalizing and justifying is as follows;
An employee of a company starts taking home pens, or notepads or staples or anything that the firm has in the store room. They rationalize their actions by thinking “they won’t miss it…they have plenty.”
After rationalizing, they justify their actions by thinking “they make so much money that this is nothing to them” and “they don’t pay me enough as it is.”
What at first caused a guilty conscience, knowing that it was wrong, soon became rationalized and justified away. In other words, sins are minimized, so as to be made acceptable.
God warns us to be on guard.
1 Peter 5:8 NIV
8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
Ephesians 4:27 NIV
27 and do not give the devil a foothold.
For Satan is crafty, devious and inventive. He will even present himself as an angel of light.
2 Corinthians 11:14 NIV
14 And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.
THE DEVIL CAN"T MAKE US DO ANYTHING
We must always remember that Satan wants to alter our thinking and in doing so will alter our words and actions. We must always be on guard.
So, we frequently need to take spiritual inventory.
Are we rationalizing and justifying things that we used to call sinful? Are we explaining away thoughts, words, or actions that God’s Word tells us are not acceptable to Him?
We must ask ourselves these questions and more importantly, we must answer them honestly.
This is what Satan did to Eve and what he tries to do with Christians. He even tried to alter the thinking of Jesus, through the Apostle Peter.
Matthew 16:23 NIV
23 Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”
The devil made me do it is not a valid excuse. It was a funny one liner but a seriously flawed human excuse that will “hold no water” standing before God.
He can alter our thinking and influence, but he doesn’t cause us to disobey God. That decision lies strictly on our shoulders and we will be accountable for it.
The good news is, we have more power on our side than Satan has, and we can forever keep him from altering our thinking and influence.
Let us be inspired and determined to take spiritual inventory often, so as to not let Satan creep into our minds unawares and take up residence.
We must always have a “NO VACANCY” attitude and stance, through our study, prayer, faith and obedience.
We can be and are victorious over whatever Satan throws at us because He has rescued us from darkness and brought us into light…the kingdom of His Son.
If we keep our trust and faith in God sure and steadfast, the devil has no chance.
If we keep ourselves totally committed and in full submission to God, Satan will have to look elsewhere to take up residence.
The devil can’t make us do anything, but we surely have the power through Jesus Christ to make him homeless and “keep him behind us.”
Colossians 1:13-14 NIV
13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
Ephesians 6:16 NIV
16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
James 4:7 NIV
7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.