Remember the Flip Wilson show, where Flip became Geraldine and popularized the phrase, “The devil made me do it...”?
That line was not an original. In fact, it goes back a long, long, way! Of course Eve phrased it slightly different, and she wasn’t trying to be funny. She had disobeyed God, and when He confronted her, she admitted that she had eaten the forbidden fruit, but pointed out that the serpent (no doubt the devil in disguise) had deceived her.
Often the word “devil” conjures up an image of a red creature, with pointed ears and a long tail, poking a pronged fork into some poor victim, forcing him or her to do something that they know they should not do. Then when the deed is done, the “devil” gets the blame, and the victim is supposedly innocent.
The Bible has much to say about the devil, but does not offer him as a scapegoat for our guilt, nor as an easy-to-spot menace in red garb. Instead, he is spoken of as a master of deception, even named “the deceiver” in some passages, who seldom making himself obvious as the above picture depicts. II Corinthians 11:14 says he “disguises himself as an angel of light.”
Actually he is an angel that once served God. However, he determined to “take the place of God”. Because of his prideful ambition, he was cast from heaven, yet remained under the authority of his Creator.
Jesus Christ defeated him at the cross by taking away his only real weapon, death. (Hebrews 2:14,15). He now roams around, “as roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” before his final judgement is executed.
The devil also continues in his ambition to dethrone God by trying to influence people to reject the sovereignty of their Creator, and the Lordship of His Son. His methods consist of telling lies, swaying people into unbelief and sin. Jesus said that “he is a liar, and the father of lies..” (John 8:44) This fallen angel is a master at subtlety, so his lies are certainly not labeled as such. Instead, they seem plausible, especially when they appeal to our selfish wants and even to our legitimate needs. He uses lies to confuse our concept of God, confuse our concept of ourselves, and discredit the Word of God so that we will not believe it (see Genesis 3). This liar also knows how to make evil look good, and good look evil.
Because our actions are based on what we believe, the lies are aimed there, at our belief system. If the devil can control what we believe, then he indirectly controls what we do. Eve’s encounter with the serpent in the garden is one example. She heard the lie, believed it, then acted upon it. Note that her action was direct disobedience to the command of God, and was the beginning of human sin. Every response to this liar, other than resistance, results in sin.
This goes back to the deceiver’s original intention. The Bible says that we become slaves to whatever we obey. If we act according to anything other than the commands of God, “the devil made me do it” becomes far more than a funny line.