Remember Geraldine, a character played by Flip Wilson? When Geraldine did something that was wrong or mischievous, which was 95% of the time, her famous line was, “The devil made me do it!” Basically, it was an excuse to justify what she knew was the wrong thing to do.
That same line has been used ever since it was introduced. Only now, I think most people really believe it, especially Christians. Christians are blaming the devil a lot these days. When I really focused and meditated on Romans 7:18-25, I realized that to the Christian the devil is just a “sidekick”; he tempts, suggests, and will manipulate through deception if we don’t stay alert. He does have power to control those who’ve totally surrendered their body, mind and soul to him to possess his spirit (aka demon possessed). This is another topic for another time. Refer to Luke 4:31-35, Mary Magdalene, ref. Luke 8:2, Mark 9:17.
The reality is it’s in our sin nature to do what’s wrong. At some point if Christians keep intentionally disobeying God by listening and doing what the devil says they fall victim to him. Since our sin nature is drawn to doing what’s wrong, we can be easy prey for the roaring lion (Devil) to devour (I Peter 5:8).
Think back how it all started in the Garden of Eden. The serpent didn’t force Eve to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the Garden of Eden; neither did Eve force Adam. Although the shrewd serpent instigated and deceived Eve, he did not make her eat. He perverted the truth and enticed her. Yet, she chose to disobey God’s command; Adam chose to disobey also. Consequently, the entire human race was infected by a pandemic known as sin. The decision of Adam and Eve passed down to us all a dis-ease called “sin”. We have what is called a sinful nature that manifested when man did what God specifically said don’t do (Gen. 2:15-17). Their disobedience changed the course of life and everything was affected by it. They forfeited their own innocence, their children’s, and the entire human race because of their rebellion against God’s instruction (Rom. 5:12-14, I Cor. 15:21-22, 45-49). In essence, within us all is the greater desire to do what is wrong instead of what is right even though we may know it’s wrong. Consequently, we’re in a power struggle with our sin nature.
This is what Paul was explaining to the Christians in Rome as he used himself for an example. Like all of us it’s easier to do what is wrong than it is to do what is right; thus the power struggle with sin—between right and wrong, obedience and disobedience. Think about! Lying is manifested early with toddlers. Parents do not have to teach them. It’s in their nature (Psalm 51:5).
(Here’s an example: Have you ever did something you know was wrong and after you did you ask, “Why did I do that?” The answer is in Romans 7:15-17.
15 I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate. 16 But if I know that what I am doing is wrong, this shows that I agree that the law is good. 17 So I am not the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.
Knowing the truth about my sin nature and admitting it aids in disarming the enemy from using my weaknesses against me. Paul continues by saying, 18 And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature.[d] I want to do what is right, but I can’t. 19 I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. 20 But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.
One of the greatest benefits of studying the Word of God is discovery. It opens up a whole new way of thinking, processing and living life according to Kingdom principles. More importantly, the discovery is about “self”. Too often we like to mirror the Word against the faults and weaknesses of others. The truth? I need help before I can truthfully help you. I have to deal with my own issues first or else I’ll be like a contagious virus passing it on to others in the spirit realm causing a sin epidemic. Okay. Let me say it! The Church is in trouble now because of a sin pandemic—sin nature is controlling from the pulpit to the pew!
Back to discovery… Listen to what Paul says, 21 I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. 22 I love God’s law with all my heart. 23 But there is another power[e] within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. I can never underestimate my propensity to commit sin. Yes. I love the Lord and His Word with all my heart. But the truth is because I love the Lord with all my heart, the power struggle is even greater. The power struggle is with my mind; my sin nature wants to enslave me! Therefore, daily I must fortify my mind using the arsenal of weapons that God has provided—the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, faith, prayer, (praying in the Spirit), fasting, the Blood of Jesus, praise, worship. Yeah, admit it, you have thoughts that are not right and you know it, but do you act on them? Sometimes! And do you feel justified? Sometimes. Come’ on tell the truth! Admit it like Paul did, 24 Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death?
Like Apostle Paul, I’m so thankful for what Jesus Christ did. 25 Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. He did not have a “sinful nature” because Mary was a virgin and had not had sexual intercourse with another human man (Joseph), which would have passed on the human sin nature. The Holy Ghost impregnated. Sure, it’s a mystery! But if you really meditate on it and ask God for revelation you can believe it. Refer Isaiah 7:14, Luke 1:26-38.
The answer for the world is Jesus Christ! However, the question is do you want to live a life dominated by your sinful nature? It’s a choice (man has a free will to choose just like Adam and Eve).
Praise God! I choose to live confident in God’s power to free me from the controlling power of my sin nature. I belong to Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1) and because I belong to Him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed me from the power of sin that leads to death. Simple because I choose the way of life through faith in Christ, I am empowered by the Holy Spirit who controls my mind. And by letting the Spirit of God control my mind it leads to life and peace (Romans 8:6). Does this mean I never do anything wrong? Of course not! But as Paul explains in the next chapter (8:1), I’m not condemned because I’m in Christ, and my heart’s desire is to please God. Therefore, when I do what’s wrong, I repent and for forgiveness and move on. I don’t keep doing what’s wrong, and using an excuse to justify my sin.
How do you know if your sinful nature is controlling? Ask yourself honestly, “What do I think about most of the time, doing what is right or wrong?” 5 Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit (Romans 8:5).
To tell you the truth, the power struggle will always be within until your earthly life ends. The power struggle is manifested in every walk of life. It does not discriminate on the basis of religion, race, nationality, political views, sex, age, or any other aspect of life. It’s manifested in the family, the Church, workplace, government, on every continent in every country and island. Wherever there are human beings there is a power struggle within that is manifested in either right and wrong attitudes and actions. The dominating power will be displayed whether right or wrong, good or evil.
And people are asking questions like, “Why is the world in such mess, what is the world coming to?” Now you know—it’s a power struggle—man’s sinful nature is determined to dominate. But the good news is with Jesus Christ you’re destined to win by the power of the Holy Spirit of Christ if you so choose God’s Way, Truth and Life.
Will you keep using Geraldine’s excuse, “the devil made me do it, or will you man up and say my sinful nature is in control, and I want to change? I want the Spirit of God to control my mind. I need peace or otherwise I’m fighting a losing the battle.
What is your choice?