A post from The Biblical Counselling Coalition popped up via one of the blogs I follow. I’m single so I didn’t read the whole post, perhaps I should, but if you’re married, you would probably do well to. I did read the first paragraph, and it said something I’ve been saying to people for a long time, just in slightly different words.
“According the Bible, Satan prowls around like a lion looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8), but many times, he probably doesn’t have to do that much. I wonder if sometimes Satan sits back and laughs at us.”
I’ve always been a bit nervous of people who shift the blame, using comments like, “the devil made me do it.” But it often seems that Christians are willing to blame all sorts of things on the devil, when it is far more economical, even from a Christian perspective, to just accept that people do bad things. Contrary to the beliefs in Islam, Christians believe people are born sinners (the evidence seems to support Christianity over Islam here) even though they haven’t actually sinned. This basically comes down to the fact that we don’t need to be taught to sin, it comes quite easily. The real problem seems to be that it’s probably easier, & more comforting to blame a supernatural force for our own poor judgments, than to just accept that we can change certain things with a bit of effort.
The earliest decent record of the devil’s work is the book of Job, which has the devil doing some pretty nasty stuff, but he doesn’t do nearly as much damage as Job’s friends. The serpent in Eden made a few suggestions, and told a few lies (one of which is fundamental in Christian teaching today) and bang, Eve exercised her own free will. Odd as it may seem, there was no supernatural action in Adam eating the apple. Jesus’ ministry begins with the devil making a bunch of suggestions and cleverly manipulating scripture (even trying a bribe), but he doesn’t force much of anything on Jesus.
So whenever I hear people talking about how the devil is working and causing problems, I wonder if the devil didn’t just make some suggestions in the early days of Christianity and is just watching as we do the rest for him. More likely is that the devil is ever optimistic and will make suggestions where and when opportunities arise. Many people may say that I’m underestimating the power of the devil, but I’m not, I’m simply pointing out that the tendency is to underestimate the power of people; popular opinion and human folly.