Having a conversation regarding a person’s lack of support to the church financially, participation, and attendance, of course, the focus was more on financial support than anything else. An example was given, that a person came to church to give a particular amount but when they saw who was preaching they change amount and gave less than what they planned to. I then asked “Why do you believe that is?” The response was the devil made them do it. I then begin to explain an alternative reason but I don’t believe he got it.
The great comedian Flip Wilson was known for the phrase… “The devil made me do it!” In 1970, Flip Wilson won a Grammy for the Devil Made Me Buy This Dress. We, Christians, have taken his phrase to explain many of our wrongdoings and disobedience of others in the faith. My response to him was that “You’re given the devil too much credit!” He looked at me with shock so I said it again, “You’re given the devil too much credit!” I then went on to say it’s people being people allowing their personal biases, prejudices, preferences, favoritisms, and partialities to control their actions and that has nothing to do with the devil.
The reason why people act the way they do is because they are spiritually immature and we need to know the difference.
Yes, the devil and his demons tempt us to sin (Genesis 3; Luke 4; 1 Peter 5:8). But “the devil made me do it” is far too often used to excuse our own bad choices. Except in an instance of demon possession, the devil cannot make us do anything. The devil is absolutely worthy of blame for much of the evil in the world, but using the devil as a scapegoat for our own sinful choices is counterproductive to achieving victory over sin.
The first instance of “the devil made me do it” used as an excuse was in the Garden of Eden. Eve says, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate” (Genesis 3:13). Her excuse did not get her off the hook (verse 16), and it won’t help us much, either.
James 1:14 declares, “Each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire” (emphasis added). Why do we sin? We sin because we are sinners. We are plagued by and infected with sin (Romans 3:10-23). While demonic oppression and influence are real, the primary problem is our sinful natures. “Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these” (Galatians 5:19-21). Notice, it’s the “works of the flesh” in this list, not the works of the devil.
If you are a Christian and you commit a sin, the devil did not make you do it. He may have tempted you to do it. He may have even influenced you to do it. But he did not make you do it. You still had a choice. God never allows you to be tempted beyond your ability to withstand, and He always provides a way of escape (1 Corinthians 10:13). A Christian saying “the devil made me do it” is denying the truth of 1 John 4:4, “Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.”