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“Thou shalt have no other god before me.”  (Exodus 20:3 KJV)

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God Let Me Do It

May 3, 2014

God let me do it.

This could be taken as a plea - for God to let me do something.

But - it’s not.


No -

God let me do it

In this case is like an excuse.

Instead of the old Flip Wilson thing (for those of us who remember who Flip Wilson is) -
 “The devil made me do it”
it’s God let me do it (He didn’t stop me).

But first - can the devil really “make” is do anything?


You probably assume at this point that I’m going to go back to Adam & Eve in the Garden of Eden.
Not wanting to disappoint - I’ll do exactly that.
It’s the classic (and original) point the finger at anybody but me situation.
From Genesis 3:1-13 -

The Fall of Man

Ge 3:1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”

Ge 3:2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden,  3 but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’ ”

Ge 3:4 “You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman.  5 “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

Ge 3:6 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.  7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.

Ge 3:8 Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden.  9 But the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?”

Ge 3:10 He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”

Ge 3:11 And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from? ”

Ge 3:12 The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.”

Ge 3:13 Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?”

The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”


In a nutshell

The serpent (the devil) tricks Eve into eating the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Eve convinces Adam to eat the fruit as well.

God asks Adam and Eve what happened.

Adam says Eve made him do it.

God asks Eve what happened.

Eve says the devil made me do it.


After that - as the section heading in the NIV says - came the fall of man.
Because they did what the devil told them to do -
so the devil - and Adam and Eve - and us - were cursed.


But - in all honesty -
did the devil really make them do it?

No.
Eve chose to listen to the devil -
she chose to not pay close attention to what the devil and God said -
chose to believe the twisted words of the devil -
and ate the fruit.

For his part -
Adam chose to listen to Eve - and therefore the devil -
he chose to not pay close attention to what the devil and God said -
chose to believe the twisted words of the devil -
and ate the fruit.

There was no force there anywhere.

And it’s the same for us.

No matter how convincing the devil may seem -
he really can’t force us to do anything.
He will try to convince us that something we really want to do -
even if we feel it’s wrong -
is really OK -
but he cannot force us.

The question is whether or not we’ll be able to resist.

This question is probably best answered by what Jesus said in the Garden of Gethsemane - in Matthew 26:36-46 -

Gethsemane

Mt 26:36 Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37 He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled.  38 Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”

Mt 26:39 Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”

Mt 26:40 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter.  41 “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.”

Mt 26:42 He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”

Mt 26:43 When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy.  44 So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing.

Mt 26:45 Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour is near, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.  46 Rise, let us go! Here comes my betrayer!”

Three times Jesus finds the disciples asleep - even though they know how much Jesus is troubled.
Surely they didn’t want to sleep.  But they did.
Jesus said as much - when he told them
The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.

They were not able to resist - they fell asleep.

If that happened to them - what possible chance do we have?

Well - that depends.

Charles Stanley, in Walking Wisely: Real Guidance for Life’s Journey says this -

The Holy Spirit helps us to resist temptation—regardless of the nature of the temptation. This isn’t true for those who have not received Jesus Christ as their Savior and have been given the Holy Spirit to indwell them as an ever-present Counselor, Comforter, and Source of power. The unbeliever is on his own when it comes to temptation. The believer, in contrast, has One who helps him resist every form of temptation. The believer has the assurance that God will not allow him to be tempted beyond what he is able to handle as he relies on the Holy Spirit for help.

We must own up to the fact that we do not “fall” into a temptation idly or casually. We walk into temptation, and sometimes we run into it. A yielding to temptation is not something that just happens to us. The will is involved. There is always a moment when we can say no. It is at that moment that we must turn to the Holy Spirit and say, “Help me!”

He goes on to give 10 steps as to how to go about using the assistance of the Holy Spirit to resist temptation.  I’m not going to put them all here - but recommend checking out the book if this is something you need help with.

At any rate - for the Christian - this is the way to try to resist.
Not that we always will - because we’re not perfect.
But we can try - and will have better success than without the Holy Spirit.

Charles Stanley closes this chapter with the suggestion to “Stand Steadfast” -

As you stand against the onslaughts of temptation, verbalize frequently your faith in God’s ability to help you withstand temptation. Voice your faith in His presence with you, your dependency on His strength, and your belief in His promise to help you.

I have absolutely no doubt that if you will put these ten safeguards against temptation into your life, God will honor your efforts and help you withstand temptation.

Notice - even here, he doesn’t say we will always succeed -
but that God will help us to withstand temptation.


For the non-Christian -
if it seems pretty hopeless to you -
you’re correct.

As Paul says in Romans 3:21-26 -

Ro 3:21 But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify.  22 This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference,  23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,  24 and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.  25 God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished—  26 he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.


Notice - all have sinned

If all have sinned - what will ultimately keep us from being taken over by the devil?


In the Romans quote - Paul is saying that for the Christian - it is Jesus.
Note the words of Jesus in Matthew 26:26-29 -

Mt 26:26 While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.”

Mt 26:27 Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you.  28 This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.  29 I tell you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it anew with you in my Father’s kingdom.”

Take special note of verse 29 -
This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.

While some would like to think that Jesus saves everyone - that’s not what this verse says.
While the offer of salvation through Jesus was made to everyone -
this verse points out that not everyone will take up that offer.


So what is to become of the non-Christians?

They will not be saved by Jesus.
Their lot is left up to having to depend on what happens to Satan.

That can be found in Revelation 20:7-10 -

Satan’s Doom

Rev 20:7 When the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison  8 and will go out to deceive the nations in the four corners of the earth—Gog and Magog—to gather them for battle. In number they are like the sand on the seashore.  9 They marched across the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of God’s people, the city he loves. But fire came down from heaven and devoured them.  10 And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.

Not such a good end for Satan.

What about for those who chose to follow him?
That’s also in Revelation - right after the verses above -

The Dead Are Judged

Rev 20:11 Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them.  12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books.  13 The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done.  14 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death.  15 If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.


And so we see -

The devil cannot make us do anything.

Having said that - it’s also true that,

on our own, he’s irresistible -
and even with the Holy Spirit - we cannot always resist.

The only hope comes in the form of what happens to us after we fail to resist.

God Has offered a hope to all of us -John 3:16-21 -

Jn 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.  18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.  19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.  20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.  21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.”

Some of us will accept God’s offer of salvation -
will be in the Book of Life -
and will reside with Him forever.

Others will refuse His offer of salvation -
will not be in the Book of Life -
and will reside with Satan forever - in the lake of fire.


In the end -

No one makes us do anything.

It’s our choice to try to resist sin or not.
While we will all sin -
the difference is in whether or not we accept Jesus - His salvation - and the Holy Spirit.

Again - no one makes us decide one way or the other on that -
it’s up to us -
we have the free will - given by the God that some of us choose to reject.

Given that -
even the appearance of our name in the Book of Life is up to us.
No one makes us be there or not either.

As it says in John 3:17-18 - (which isn’t nearly as well known as the verse just before it -

17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.  18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.

Verse 17 - God sent Jesus to save us - not to condemn us.

Verse 18 - if we accept Jesus - we are saved - even though we have sinned.
Verse 18 - if we reject Jesus - we have condemned ourselves - because we rejected Him.

Sin can be forgiven.

Rejection of Jesus will not be forgiven.


And as with everything else -

The choice to reject Jesus is -

Not something the devil makes us do, although he will try.

Not something God will make us do - although He will allow it.

Something that’s entirely up to us.


How about you?

Who do you think will save you from your sins?