“Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors.” –Rom. 8:37
“The Devil made me do it!” We’ve all heard it, but why do I do what I do? Isn’t that the question of all ages, “Why did I do that?” Sometimes we can’t even answer that question!
So if the devil doesn’t make us do what we do, then who or what does?
Our own hearts deceive us.
Our own hearts deceive us, and soon we “believe” right is wrong and wrong is right! Sin doesn’t come from outside us, but from within (Matt. 15:17-19). So we convince ourselves that what we want is really ok, or that we are victims and can’t help our choices. Jeremiah 17:9 tells us that our hearts are deceitful and desperately wicked, so much so that we deceive even ourselves about the desires and intents of the heart, often justifying our wrongs.
We are sinners by nature; we have all sinned and come short of the glory of God. Even the Apostle Paul proclaimed himself the chief of sinners because he understood the deceitfulness of his own heart. We like our sin and don’t want to give it up.
But our culture doesn’t want to hear that. We are told instead that we are “good” and that when we follow our heart it is the right thing for us. We spend thousands of dollars on therapists to make us feel better, yet we don’t. This is a pretty bleak picture so far, but where is the hope?
Our hope is in Christ alone who changes hearts and sets us free from the curse of sin and death (Rom. 6:23, Jn. 10:10). Our hope is in the Word of God that guides us to a better way to live. Psalm 119 is one of my favorites because it describes the wonders of the Word, how it keeps us from sin and brings life and sweetness to our souls. It lights our path and guides our way out of the path of destruction. It gives hope and joy in the Lord.
We choose our own actions.
Not the devil, nor anyone for that matter, can make us do anything we don’t choose to do. Too often we blindly follow culture and others instead of following the Lord!
When Moses was given the Ten Commandments, right in the middle, the Lord gave him a principle that we need to understand, even in our day. Exodus 20:5 proclaims the generational curse: the sins of the fathers pass to the 3rd and 4th generations to those who hate God.
Look around and see that principle in action. Alcoholic fathers often produce alcoholic sons. Fathers who view pornography often pass the effects of that sin along to their children. Just think about your own family tree. What patterns do you see flowing from generation to generation?
So is there hope for someone addicted to anything?
Deut 7:9 proclaims the hope: know and love God enough to obey His Word! The hope is through change. We can all change if we will to change (Rom. 12:1-2, Eph. 4:17-24). The generational curse breaks when we love and obey the Lord and develop a lifestyle that reflects Christ likeness. That means purity in thoughts, words, and deeds. His Word promises to change our cold, hard hearts of stone into hearts alive in Christ.
Ezekiel 18 holds a profound principle of individual responsibility. That chapter begins with the admonishment to quit using a certain proverb that we still happen to use today. Although our wording is different–“The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree” or “A chip off the old block” or “Like mother, like daughter!”–it means the same thing as the proverb God told Israel to quit using. These sayings leave a kid hopeless of ever being different.
Throughout Ezekiel, God goes on to proclaim that a son can choose right even if his father chooses wrong, or visa-versa. Only the one doing wrong is judged for his wrong. The other has chosen to do what is right, regardless of circumstances or influence, and will experience God’s help.
The devil has no power over the children of God that we do not relinquish to him. God’s own children have a greater power to overcome sin than the devil has power to tempt (1 Jn. 4:4). We can never blame the devil for our sin, nor blame the Lord for not rescuing us from that temptation (Col. 1:13, 1 Cor. 10:13-14). We are responsible to obey and flee (1 Jn. 2:13-14). God’s Word is clear that we can overcome sin, even addictions to substances or pornography!
We take community and accountability too lightly.
We need community, and God provides it. He set us in families and local church communities for a very important reason–we function best and accomplish more with accountability. Positive peer pressure helps us do the right thing. Yes, some choose to follow negative influences, but God designed faith communities to establish godly influences that help one another. Solomon said that two are better than one because the one helps the other up.
Paul admonished the Galatians to help one another when they saw a brother struggling (Gal. 6:1-5). We are to help bear one another’s burdens. When our brother heals enough to carry his own load, he’ll in turn be able to help the next guy who falls. We will all struggle at times and need a community to help us.
We often take accountability too lightly. Some accountability partners fear asking the tough questions to one another, but God has given us that powerful tool to help us change and grow. When we have a community of godly friends who hold us (and themselves) accountable to God, victory over past struggles can more readily become a reality. When we confess and forsake sin, we find God’s mercy (Prov. 28:13, 1 Jn. 1:5-9). Victory first comes in community with God and then with others!
The Power to Overcome Temptation
Knowing and loving Christ and obeying His Word gives us the strength and direction we need to have victory in conquering temptations of the heart.
- “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength!” (Php. 4:13).
- “In Christ we are more than conquerors!” (Rom. 8:37).
- “We are dead to our sin and alive in Christ” (Rom. 6:11).
- “How shall a young man keep his way pure? By obeying the Word of God!” (Ps. 119:9-11).
We can choose to follow Him in thoughts, words, and deeds, recognizing our source of strength and path to victory! The devil is no match to the power of our LORD!
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