“The Devil made me do it!” Flip Wilson made this phrase popular in the early 1970s.  But it’s been a common excuse for people to use since Eve first used it in Eden (Genesis 3:13).  We know Satan can’t “make” us do anything, but how much is he (or his demons) involved in our everyday temptations and struggles?  We tend to make two mistakes: attributing everything evil to him, or attributing nothing to him.  We either see a demon behind every bush, or we believe he isn’t a factor to consider today.  Both extremes are wrong and must be avoided.  However, finding the middle line and sticking to it can be extremely difficult (2 Corinthians 2:5-11).  I readily admit I can’t pin it down for you.  I don’t think we’ll know for sure until we get to heaven.

However I can tell you this:  our biggest enemy in life is not Satan but self (Galatians 5:17).  It is our flesh, our sin nature, the aspect in man that makes him rebellious against God.  The NIV translates the Greek word for “flesh” as “sin nature,” showing that it isn’t our physical flesh but a natural tendency in our soul to be self-centered and to sin.  In “Pilgrims Progress” the battle of “Christian” with “Apollyon” lasted three hours, but the battle of Christian with himself lasted all the way from the Wicket Gate to the river Jordan.

In 1972 there was a Pogo cartoon that said, “We have met the enemy and he is us!”  That’s right.  We are our greatest enemy.  As long as we focus on our self and try to meet our own needs by any methods, Satan and his demons don’t need to do much to defeat us.   We do it to ourselves no matter how hard we try.  Paul says in Romans 7 that he does what he doesn’t want to do and doesn’t do what he wants.  That’s him battling himself and losing.  Demons don’t have to do anything.  Don’t give Satan credit for what you do in your own flesh.  Put the blame where it deserves to be.

It is only when we seek to live by the new nature, the power of Jesus Christ within us, that we bring his attacks.  Then the battle becomes greater the more committed we are to becoming like Jesus.  Our flesh still has a hand in it, but it has a lot of help from Satan’s forces.  That’s when we need spiritual warfare.  It’s a tool we use against Satan, not against the flesh.  Spiritual warfare doesn’t work when we are choosing to sin from our own free will.  Only by yielding to God’s Spirit and allowing Him to fill us and empower us can we have victory.  Paul gives the solution to his struggle in Romans 7 by writing Romans 8.  Read it slowly and carefully and you’ll have the formula to victory over the flesh.

Romans 8:1-4 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.  For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering.  And so he condemned sin in the flesh,  in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

Are you able to discern when there is demonic attack in your life or when you are battling your own sin nature?  Ask God for wisdom so you know how to correctly battle back. 

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