Are You Using the Devil as a Scapegoat?
By Lynette Kittle
“The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work” - 1 John 3:8
Audiences in the 1970s found comedian Flip Wilson hilarious when he played his most popular character, Geraldine Jones, and said her famous and now iconic line, “The devil made me do it.” Wilson’s catchphrase for his sassy character, whenever “she” did anything wrong, caused viewers to roar with laughter. Excusing her own bad behavior and personal responsibility for her actions, along with using the devil as a scapegoat, struck a chord with the masses.
Geraldine’s character turned my thoughts to James 4:7, which urges, “Submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” Like “her,” how many of us fail to own up to our poor choices in life and are using the devil as our scapegoat, too? Are we using the same excuse in a more subtle way? Because no matter what the situation, Revelation 20:12 explains how we can’t point our fingers at anyone else, not even the devil, when it comes to trying to justify our sinful behaviors and actions. In day-to-day living, it’s good to ask ourselves if we are resisting the devil when tempted? If not, how do we begin to live it out in practical, everyday, sort of ways?
Using Others As Scapegoats
Often when feeling annoyed or angry with others like family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, and even strangers, we use them as scapegoats, too, for responding the way we do. But rather than going with those feelings and blaming our words and actions on them, there is a better way to respond by resisting to follow sinful tendencies. Instead of letting our negative feelings lead us, we can turn away from them and choose to respond, opposite to how fallen human nature wants us to respond. In choosing to do so, it’s amazing how fast our entire outlook will change for the better within minutes. By doing so, we have accomplished what Romans 12:21 urges us to do: “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
What Happens When We Don’t Resist
Surprisingly, Star Wars Darth Vader’s character can teach us about resisting the dark side. Although he gave into darkness, he lived the consequences of not resisting it. Born Anakin Skywalker, who became a chosen Jedi to restore the Force (light); instead, he fell into darkness and transformed into Vader. With each evil act committed, he strayed farther from the light, stating at one point, “You are unwise to lower your defenses.” His words ring true because lowering our defenses and giving in to temptation leads to destruction. Yet, when it comes down to it, resisting temptation is really pretty simple. It’s choosing to act and react opposite to the dark things we’re tempted to do or say by following God’s Light rather than the devil’s darkness.
Practical Ways to Resist Temptation
Following are eight biblical insights to help us resist temptation.
1. Rather than giving in to our own emotions and understanding, give into God by following what His word says to do in situations (Proverbs 3:5).
2. When darkness tries to draw us in, instead follow the Light of Jesus, choosing His way to live over our own rationalizations and understandings (John 8:12).
3. Pay attention to godly leaders’ counsel and insights, recognizing they have learned to walk in God’s wisdom and counsel (1 Peter 5:5).
4. Put on humility by keeping ourselves in check and not thinking we know more than God knows (Ephesians 4:2).
5. Place our trust in Christ’s strength rather than trying to rely on our own strength (Philippians 4:13).
6. Turn towards God with a repentant heart, unlike Geraldine’s motto to blame her sinfulness on the devil (Psalm 51:17).
7. Keep running towards the finish line like Hebrews 12:1-2 urges.
8. Resist the devil’s temptations and choose to obey God, turning from darkness to light, as Vader finally does at the end of his life. As Jesus proclaimed, “I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in Me should stay in darkness” (John 12:46).
Intersecting Faith and Life:
If faced with temptation this week, resist. However, if you fall into it, instead of pointing fingers and blaming the devil or those around you, go to God with a repentant heart. With a humble heart, turn toward Him for forgiveness and to strengthen you to overcome it the next time you’re tempted.
Photo credit: ©GettyImages/avemario
Lynette Kittle is married with four daughters. She enjoys writing about faith, marriage, parenting, relationships, and life. Her writing has been published by Focus on the Family, Decision, Today’s Christian Woman, kirkcameron.com, Ungrind.org, StartMarriageRight.com, and more. She has a M.A. in Communication from Regent University and serves as associate producer for Soul Check TV.