Editorial

The Devil Made Me Do It!!

Does everyone remember this verse from Genesis 3:12:

“And the man said, The woman whom You gave to be with me—she gave me [fruit] from the tree, and I ate.”

This could this be the first recorded case of how blind a man can be around a woman (joking). On a more serious note, I believe this is the first recorded account of the shirking of personal responsibility. God gave EACH OF THEM specific instructions not to eat from a certain tree. Adam and Eve were, independently, accountable for their actions. But, we still hear Adam, “It’s not my fault! She made me do it!” He didn’t immediately take responsibility for what he, himself, had done. The same can be said for Eve – she blames the serpent, saying, “The serpent beguiled and deceived me, and I ate [from the forbidden tree].” Some can argue that certain Jewish texts and commentaries interpret Eve as being Adam’s counselor, especially at that moment (Midrash Rabba Genesis) – but, let’s not split hairs in this article.

So goes mankind’s departure from only knowing what is Good. Verse 22 goes on to say, “And the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us (Father, Son, Holy Spirit), knowing [how to distinguish between] good and evil; and now, he might stretch out his hand, and take from the tree of life as well, and eat [its fruit], and live [in this fallen, sinful condition] forever” 

Accept responsibility for your OWN actions. Look, we all have some ‘spainin to do when it comes to how we conduct our lives. Below are only a few scriptures regarding taking responsibility:

Leviticus 5:5 instructs us that when anyone becomes aware that they are guilty [of disobeying], they must confess in what way they have sinned. 
2 Samuel 12:13: David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD.” And Nathan said to David, “The LORD also has put away your sin; you shall not die.” 
2 Samuel 24:10: David was conscience-stricken after he had counted the fighting men, and he said to the LORD, “I have sinned greatly in what I have done. Now, LORD, I beg you, take away the guilt of your servant. I have done a very foolish thing.” 

Not only did Adam try to justify himself by blaming another, Eve blames God Himself, “If You hadn’t allowed that Serpent into the Garden, I wouldn’t have sinned.” Some folks believe that the desire to sin is genetic; or that we sin because we grew up in a bad neighborhood; or, it was our parents fault, they didn’t teach us; or because one or both parents were drug addicts or alcoholics; or, say things like, “I never had a chance.” Some of those circumstances may be true, but they do not MAKE us sin. Despite outside influences, each of us make the choice to sin or not. Our choices reveal what is in our hearts, and too often we choose wicked activities and others beside. We cannot foist the blame onto others because our sins come from within.

“(20) And He said, What comes out of a man is what makes a man unclean {and} renders [him] unhallowed. (21) For from within, [that is] out of the hearts of men, come base {and} wicked thoughts, sexual immorality, stealing, murder, adultery, (22) Coveting (a greedy desire to have more wealth), dangerous {and} destructive wickedness, deceit; unrestrained (indecent) conduct; an evil eye (envy), slander (evil speaking, malicious misrepresentation, abusiveness), pride (the sin of an uplifted heart against God and man), foolishness (folly, lack of sense, recklessness, thoughtlessness). (23) All these evil [purposes and desires] come from within, and they make the man unclean {and} render him unhallowed.” 

Mark 7:20-23, Amplified Bible

The forerunners of the Faith teach us, regarding our disobedience (sin), our circumstances are no excuse when under God’s judgement. If we are ever in a situation that tempts us to not choose obedience, it is our responsibility to exercise faith and self-control, thereby staying aligned with God’s righteousness. I’m sure you have all heard (and used) the phrase, “The Devil made me do it!” – popularized by famed comedian Flip Wilson. Most of the time it is said jokingly, right. Not to be a downer, but that, too, is a backhanded way of blaming someone else for YOUR actions. Some even believe that phrase is a slight toward God, as He created the angelic host; one of which became “The Devil.” 

James 1:13-15 instructs us, “(13) Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone.’ (14) But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. (15) Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.”

This pattern of producing sin began in the Garden of Eden when Satan tempted Adam and Eve by stimulating their desire for the forbidden fruit. From that small beginning, sin entered and blossomed. It is easily seen that every problem produced by immorality, whether individual or national, is caused by allowing temptation to develop into sin. Sin is illicit desire brought to fruition, and everybody from peasant to king is subject to wrong desires.

From the beginning of time, it seems to have been a human instinct to blame others for our sins, just as Adam and Eve did in the Garden. James sternly rebukes that view. God does not cause sin and neither do things. Sin would be helpless if there were nothing in man to which it could appeal. Sin’s appeal is to human nature’s self-centeredness, which then builds through our desires. If a man desires long enough and intensely enough, the consequence—action—is inevitable.

It is because we desire our own way that we dishonor our parents and murder; because we desire a thing, we steal; because we desire being well thought of, we lie. Illicit desire can be nourished, stifled, or by the grace of God, eliminated. If one gives himself to Christ by submitting entirely to God, there is little or no time or place left for evil desire.

The tenth commandment pierces through surface Christianity, truly revealing whether a person has surrendered his will to God or not. The spiritual requirements for keeping this commandment are in some ways more rigid than any other because they pierce right through to the thoughts.

So, what’s the answer??

There are no huge mysteries about what the word “REPENT” means. The simple definition is this, “to change one’s mind (about an action or omission).” But, it is a little bit more than that. We can change our minds all day long and still be outside of God’s true desire. We have to ask, WHY would one change their mind? Would we change our mind about doing something good (…quite your pessimistic mind for a moment and stop thinking about being sued for helping someone…)? Or, would we change our mind about stealing a car? Why would we change our mind about that – quite possibly you feel GUILTY about it; you respect the law and/or the person who owns the car; you know it would anger God because of your covetousness. So, the deeper meaning of “repentance” is to, “feel or express regret or remorse about one’s wrongdoing, which is accompanied by commitment to change for the better.” 

In Biblical Hebrew, the idea of repentance is represented by two verbs: שוב shuv (to return) and נחם nacham (to feel sorrow). In the New Testament, the word translated as ‘repentance’ is the Greek word μετάνοια (metanoia), “after/behind one’s mind”, which is a compound word of the preposition ‘meta’ (after, with), and the verb ‘noeo’ (to perceive, to think, the result of perceiving or observing). In this compound word, the preposition combines the two meanings of time and change, which may be denoted by ‘after’ and ‘different’; so that the whole compound means: ‘to think differently after’. Metanoia is therefore primarily an after-thought, different from the former thought; a change of mind and change of conduct, “change of mind and heart”, or, “change of consciousness”. metanoia: change of mind, repentance Original Word: μετάνοια, ας, ἡ Part of Speech: Noun, Feminine Transliteration: metanoia Phonetic Spelling: (met-an’-oy-ah) Short Definition: repentance, a change of mind Definition: repentance, a change of mind, change in the inner man.

(9) I now rejoice, not that you were made sorrowful, but that you were made sorrowful to {the point of} repentance; for you were made sorrowful according to {the will of} God, so that you might not suffer loss in anything through us. (10) For the sorrow that is according to {the will of} God produces a repentance without regret, {leading} to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death. (11) For behold what earnestness this very thing, this godly sorrow, has produced in you: what vindication of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what avenging of wrong! In everything you demonstrated yourselves to be innocent in the matter.

2 Corinthians 7:9-11, Amplified Bible

Paul had, in effect, chewed them out in a previous letter, and it set off a chain of reactions: It produced the sorrow that leads to repentance, the change of mind in relation to God. That, in turn, produced a change of conduct because they set their wills never to allow their unrighteousness to be the cause of breaking their relationship with Him again. If a person changes his mind in relation to God rather than merely because of the pain that his conduct caused himself and others, it opens the door to making real change in attitude and conduct.

A number of factors always work to keep us from admitting responsibility for the destructive conditions surrounding us. First, sometimes we simply do not “get” it! It sometimes takes a while to understand that, by our own conduct, we are shooting ourselves in the foot and hurting our loved ones besides. In human nature, the tendency always exists to blame others before ourselves.

Second, sometimes we are so unfeeling, so unconcerned, and so self-centered that we just do not care! This attitude is dangerously destructive—in fact, biblically suicidal. This attitude is similar to what occurs to people in the grip of a drug, whether it is alcohol, a chemical like heroin, cocaine, or the nicotine in a cigarette.

The third reason is more subtle and difficult to grasp, and it resides at the foundation of a great deal of our failure to repent and change. Because of our tendency to think we are nothing, we cannot seem to get it through our minds that what we do matters! Are we not only one of billions of people on earth? Or, are we not only an insignificant member of community, family, club, or church?

It is a careless but nonetheless strong inclination to believe that nothing we do has any effect whatever on the improvement of life for anybody else. Do we realize that almost everybody else also carelessly feels the same way? Thus, the whole family or nation continues its violent, heartbreaking, pell-mell rush into the pit and on to oblivion!

The same beliefs confronted Amos as he preached to the people of Israel more than seven hundred years before Christ was born. They also confronted Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and all the other prophets, as well as Jesus and the apostles! Isaiah lamented with all his heart, “Lord, who has believed our report?” (Isaiah 53:1). They are the ministry’s challenge to this very day.

It is also where our relationship with God becomes so vital to the quality of our lives. We cannot afford to let ourselves be lulled into thinking that our attitudes and our conduct do not matter—that they do not contribute to the disaster that is this world.

To the Christian, it does matter! Why? Because watching our response to governments and circumstances that God has established is, in an overall sense, what He is judging most closely. In each of His regenerated children, He wants to see whether we really do perceive Him to be sovereign over His creation and will submit to Him by faith. He wants to see whether we will look to Him beyond the human government He ultimately installed; beyond what everybody else is doing; beyond our cynicism, distrust, and skepticism; and beyond our feelings of being of no consequence.

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