You know the phrase, "The devil made me do it." This is the popular view, that some kind of supernatural being or force for evil makes us do things that we would not normally contemplate.
This problem of finding somebody upon whom to blame our problems must be the reason so many people want to believe in the devil — for then we can shift the blame by saying, “The devil made me do it.”
"[The devil] relieves them of the great burden of guilt that they would otherwise have to carry. If they lose their devil a great load of sin comes down on their shoulders, for which they cannot escape the blame."1
Unfortunately, current ideas upon the subject are astray from the Bible. It is taught that the devil is a superhuman monster, a fallen angel, who dominates the minds of humanity, inducing mankind to sin. The teaching induces fear of the devil, and also provides an excuse for sin by blaming it on him.
Such men as commit murder and other crimes of the grosser sort, either from delusion or dishonesty, shift the blame from themselves to an imaginary supernatural devil; and they are encouraged in this cowardice by the popular religious leaders.
Ironically, many people twist the biblical teaching about the Devil's role in temptation into an excuse for sin. The Devil can tempt you, but the Devil cannot make you do anything. (Sorry, Flip Wilson!) Furthermore, ever since we fell from our original innocence, temptations generally appeal to our own selfish desires and attitudes. As James says, 'Each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust' (James 1:14 NASB). The Devil's role in tempting us to sin, then, does not diminish our responsibility in the matter. It's still our fault.4
"Today, regardless of the various external sources of temptation (Satan and the world), the final source is our own sinful nature or the lusts of self-centered desires of our own hearts (Jam. 1:14-15)."
The Lord never Himself tempts anyone to sin, but He does permit Satan to do so. And Satan finds within the natural man that which is ready to yield to his allurements. However, the Devil's temptations do not excuse the faltering sinner. All moral evil is chargeable to the doer thereof.
Those who believe they are at Satan’s mercy deny themselves victory because they never make more than a halfhearted attempt to overcome temptation. This belief opens the door for all kinds of excuses: “I can’t help it”; “The Devil made me do it”; “There was no way I could say no.”
It must be emphasized that belief in Satan as an external spirit does not excuse us from responsibility for our sins or false beliefs. We cannot blame Satan for our errors, claiming that “the Devil made me do it.” We are responsible, with God’s help, for learning the Truth, and turning from our sinful ways.
I don't know about you, but I don't need to devil to make me sin. I do it just fine on my own, thank you. Now he may talk and he may tempt and he may entice and he may try to shout out my reasons for obedience to God, but he does not and can not make me sin. If I sin, or rather when I sin, it's my own fault and I bear the responsibility...Being tempted does not equal being forced.
1 Watkins, P. (1971). The Devil - the Great Deceiver. Birmingham: The Christadelphian, p. 42)↩
2 Hodson, B.C. (n.d.). That Old Serpent, the Devil and Satan, p. 99.↩
3 Smith-Shomade, B.E. (2002). Shaded Lives: African-American Women and Television. Rutgers University Press, p. 65.↩
4 Boa, K.D. & Bowman R.M., Jr. (2007). Sense and Nonsense about Angels and Demons. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, p. 115.↩
5 As far as I can tell, of the writers quoted above, only Watkins offers any evidence for his claim. He denies that he is caricaturing the Jehovah's Witnesses' position, citing a discussion with Jehovah's Witnesses in which he was told that he was "blaming human nature too much" and that "The devil was the one to blame." However, a single anecdote from a chat with Jehovah's Witnesses (perhaps on the doorstep) hardly constitutes the kind of evidence needed to show that the 'devil made me do it' attitude pervades the teaching of the church.↩