Do you remember “the devil made me do it!” from Flip Wilson’s comedy routine?
As it did then, the joke still describes the doctrine of holiness groups that do not think Christians can sin.
To them, if they are truly Christians, then wrong behavior is not a product of their own sinful nature, but of the devil who makes them do wrong.
What’s the solution? Bind the devil! Cast out the evil spirit!
Holiness theology was popularized in America in the Methodist and Wesleyan denominations, but has influenced Pentecostal and charismatic churches.
The doctrine emphasizes a life of holiness and perfection in Christ. It teaches that the true Christian will not – in some circles cannot – sin in Christ.
It is no surprise that Paul’s epistles cannot easily defend these teachings which are taught using parts of the Bible speaking especially to Israel under the covenants.
“Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:” – Heb 12:14
“Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin;” – 1 John 3:9
If it is true that you are a Christian, then you cannot commit sin, and must be holy to see God! So, why did you buy that dress, Geraldine?
“The devil made me do it.”
Hysterical laughter ensues. The audience knows that she bought the dress for the same reason they would buy the dress. It makes her look good.
The Devil does not make you sin. The devil lies, the devil tempts, but sin comes from the lust for it inside of man.
The devil’s wiles are easily defeated by knowing and believing the truth of God’s word rightly divided (2 Tim 2:15; 1 Thess 2:13).
By one man sin, entered. Paul did not blame sin on the devil in the beginning, nor does he blame sin on the devil now.
Paul says evil is present in him (that is in his flesh) even after his salvation.
“I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.” – Romans 7:21
James, in another dispensation, defines sin as coming from every man’s lust not from God or the devil (James 1:13-15).
Men sin because of their lust for it. They have a nature that is sinful. Man has a natural taste for it.
When God asked about her sin, Eve blamed the devil on her shoulder telling her to disobey. This was diverting the question as she tried to pass the buck of responsibility.
(She learned that from her husband who passed the blame to her first in Gen 3:12.)
God knew they were all guilty. He punished them all: Adam and Eve for their disobedience, and the devil for his lying (John 8:44).
When Christians claim the devil made them sin they are placing blame for their sins on the devil instead of themselves.
The power to sin does not come from the devil, but from our old man. The power to deliver from sin is found in the cross of Christ.
Denying there is an old man nature that causes us to sin, neglects our need to reckon that old man dead by the cross, and ourselves alive in Christ (Rom 6:6-9).
When you pass on the responsibility for sin, you pass on the need for the cross of Christ, and become religious in your behavior.
Religious objects like cross necklaces, angel pins, scapulars, and Jesus pictures are presented as protection from spiritual harm.
Religious incantation such as special prayers, prophetic utterances, and confessions are used by the religious to protect them from evil spirits.
Religious rituals like fasting, anointing, laying on of hands, casting out devils, the sign of the cross, prayer circles, or genuflecting become the hope of the religious.
Religion is not the realm of a Christian. Neither is sin.
The next time you sin, do not blame the devil. The devil did not make you do it. He is a liar. He is a tempter. He is a doubter of the truth.
You sinned. Christ died for your sins, being made sin for you. You are put in Christ the moment you believe the gospel. The devil is powerless against this truth.
Take responsibility for your sin, trust the power of Christ’s cross to defeat sin, and strengthen your new man in Christ so that you won’t have a taste for sin again.