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The Devil Made Me Do It

Do Christians in the deliverance ministry blame demons for sinful behavior? Do demons cause people to sin? If demons do not cause people to sin, I’d like to know what they do. Consider what Jesus said about demons:

10 On a Sabbath Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues, 11 and a woman was there who had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not straighten up at all. 12 When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.” 13 Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God.

14 Indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, the synagogue leader said to the people, “There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath.”

15 The Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Doesn’t each of you on the Sabbath untie your ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water? 16 Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?”

17 When he said this, all his opponents were humiliated, but the people were delighted with all the wonderful things he was doing.

Luke 13:10-17

Luke says that the woman in his story was “crippled by a spirit.” The spirit is doing the crippling; the little devil is doing it.

Jesus says that Satan kept this woman bound for eighteen long years. Again, the devil did it.

In this one story, we have enough Biblical evidence to say confidently that the devil does make us do things like limp, throw up, get sick, feel anxious, feel pain, etc.

But does the devil make us sin? Mark tells a story in his Gospel about a demonized man who encountered Jesus. Mark says,

“He had his dwelling among the tombs. And no one was able to bind him anymore, even with a chain; because he had often been bound with shackles and chains, and the chains had been torn apart by him and the shackles broken in pieces, and no one was strong enough to subdue him.”

Mark 5:3-4 NASB.

Did this man whom Mark describes have the natural strength to break chains or to hurt and overpower all who came against him? The people who tried to bind this man were not evil and did not intend to harm him. If the townspeople wanted to hurt this man, they could have killed him with a spear or stones. But the people tried to bind him so he wouldn't hurt others or himself. Everyone knew this man was not acting like himself, or they would have executed justice. The attempts to subdue the man were for the sake of the man and the community's welfare. But something in this man hated both the man and the community.

Who broke the chains and overpowered the townspeople? What did the devil do?

“Constantly, night and day, he was screaming among the tombs and in the mountains and gashing himself with stones.” Mark 5:5 NASB

Nobody, in their right mind, deliberately hurts themselves. Your heart pumps to keep you living; nothing natural would lead you to cut yourself to end your life. Think about it: While the heart pumps, the hand grabs the razor blade and slits the wrist. Inside the suicidal or self-harming person is a conflicted will! Two wills are at work, and one is not the natural human will to live. All self-harming and suicidal ideation are demonic manifestations.

Let’s also consider that this man lived in the tombs! Who wants to sleep among the dead!? Only something with a twisted, dark appetite and preference would desire a place among the dead. So, who led this man to sleep among the dead and to cut himself with stones? What did the devil do?

Who’s to blame?

It is clear, Biblically speaking, that the devil makes people do things that they don't want to do. So, are humans absolved of responsibility for sin because “the devil made me do it?” Not at all. But we should note that figuring out who to blame for bad behavior is tricky business. Is the little boy who was abused, abandoned, never disciplined, or shown affection or attention responsible for the anger inside him? Yes, he is, but he does not share the responsibility alone. His mother and father are to be blamed for what he is lacking. But, his mother and father also lacked affection and attention from their parents. So, the grandparents need to come into the equation, too. And what about the kid who bullied this little boy in school? Or the neighbor who molested him? Lots of people share responsibility for this boy’s anger. Why shouldn't demons share some of the blame?

Sarah’s story

Sarah was up late because her babysitter was negligent. At only three years of age, Sarah didn't know enough to put herself to bed. The babysitter was watching a movie filled with horror and violence. Sarah took it all in. Mentally exhausted from her busy toddler day, Sarah had virtually no defenses against the stream of horror from the television. She finally fell asleep on the floor as the shouts and screams faded into the background of her mind. Eventually, Sarah was placed on a couch and continued to sleep until the early morning hours when she woke up screaming from a nightmare. Now, several times a week, Sarah wakes up screaming. She is afraid of the dark, fearful of sudden noises, and scared of strangers. Sarah is generally fearful. You could say that a general disposition of fear always accompanies her. She has lived with this fear ever since that night.

Whose fault is it that Sarah is afraid? Is Sarah’s flesh the culprit? Should Sarah have been stronger to resist the fear? Should Sarah have been wiser than to watch the television? Should Sarah be expected to distinguish between television and reality? Why is Sarah struggling? Whose fault is it? What is causing it? We can say that it was the baby sister’s fault that the little girl was traumatized, but can the babysitter now remove the trauma? It seems that whatever was coming through the television somehow got in the child, and the responsible adult is ill-equipped to remove it.

Now, I ask you, is it right to blame Sarah’s fear on her flesh? What is the source of the fear driving Sarah’s behavior? Why is it so hard for some people to recognize or admit that a spirit of fear is active inside Sarah?

Our Responsibility

Nobody is entirely “possessed” by demons. The Greek word that is often translated into English Bibles as “demon-possessed” can and probably should be translated as “demonized.” The devil doesn’t own anything, but he will temporarily hijack things he wants, and he does so by luring humans into giving him legal rights to their inheritance. But even the most demonized person, such as the man in Mark’s Gospel, still has the power of his will to run to Christ for deliverance.

“Seeing Jesus from a distance, he ran up and bowed down before Him; and shouting with a loud voice, he said, “Why business do we have with each other, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I implore You by God, do not torment me!” Mark 5:6-7 NASB

Despite the voice screaming at Jesus through His mouth, the man of the tombs used his will to run to Jesus for deliverance. You are not responsible for your inheritance, but you are responsible for what you do about it. The man of the tombs did what it took to get free. If you discover that you are wrestling a demon, it is your responsibility to seek help and to break and renounce every legal right the demon has in your life. You are responsible for coming out of your agreement with the devil’s lies. It is your job to seek the Truth and the only Savior who delivers. The devil may influence, persuade, pressure, intimidate, manipulate, and dominate you, but as long as you have breath, you have access to your will and, like the man of the tombs, it is your responsibility to use your will to move yourself to the foot of the Savior who sets free.

If the devil is making you do it, it’s up to you to show him the door and apply the blood of Jesus to the doorpost. The devil can’t stop you from doing that (though he will try!). But your will must be stronger than his.

“You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.”

1 John 4:4

The power of God at work inside of you is greater than any power of darkness. Kick the devil out in Jesus’ name.


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