In March 2009, a 62-year-old woman was charged with stealing more than $73,000 from her church in the state of Washington. When the detectives interrogated her, she told them: “Satan had a big part in the theft.” It sounds like she was saying that the devil made her do it.
Satan may have played a role in her choices, but she has some faulty thinking about temptation and sin. The devil tempts believers, but he doesn’t make us sin. James tells us that God isn’t to blame either: “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone” (James 1:13). He is good and holy.
So who is to blame for our sin? James says, “Each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed” (v.14). Just as a fisherman uses bait to lure his prey, so our own evil, unchecked desires lead to giving in to temptation and sin.
When we disobey God by sinning, let’s not shift the blame or justify our actions with the faulty “the devil made me do it” theology. Instead, let’s take full responsibility for our actions, confess our sins to a gracious and forgiving Father, and pursue right living again.
It’s wise to flee when tempted—
A fool is one who’d stay;
For those who toy with evil
Soon learn it doesn’t pay. —D. De Haan
When we sin, the blame lies within.