The Devil Made Me Do It, Ah, No…

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No one who is tested should say, “God is tempting me!” This is because God is not tempted by any form of evil, nor does he tempt anyone. Everyone is tempted by their own cravings; they are lured away and enticed by them. Once those cravings conceive, they give birth to sin; and when sin grows up, it gives birth to death. Don’t be misled, my dear brothers and sisters. Every good gift, every perfect gift, comes from above. These gifts come down from the Father, the creator of the heavenly lights, in whose character there is no change at all. He chose to give us birth by his true word, and here is the result: we are like the first crop from the harvest of everything he created (James 1:13-18, Common English Bible).

I can resist everything except temptation. Oscar Wilde

Do you remember the character Geraldine, made famous by the late comedian, Flip Wilson? One of Geraldine’s favorite lines was, “The devil made me do it.” Just about every time Wilson brought out the character ( a character for which it took him twenty minutes to prepare, including make-up applied by a cosmetologist).

I remember the popularity of “The Devil made me do it” along with several other lines like “Here come da judge” and “What you see is what you get.” Wilson even had a Geraldine comedy album titled, The Devil Made Me Buy This Dress. I always enjoyed Flip Wilson, particularly Geraldine.

“The Devil Made Me Do It” was fun. The result was lots of merchandise that sported the now famous saying. When Wilson and “Geraldine” first started saying, “The Devil Made Me Do It” I didn’t think much about it. After all, I was a teenager and it didn’t seem like something that was a very big deal. It was just something that was funny.

At some point in my life, the idea shifted from “the devil made me do it” to “God tempted me to test me.” If true, it was a test I failed, miserably, again and again. I have never been very good at overcoming temptation. Whoever was tempting me, the end result on my part was usually a horrible, dismal failure.

Then one day I read the Scripture above and it changed something in my way of thinking.  “No one who is tested should say God is tempting me! Because God is not tempted by evil by any form of evil, Nor does He tempt anybody…” Wow! God doesn’t tempt me? That came as a bit of a surprise.

 An even bigger surprise came with the next few words. “…Everyone is tempted by their own cravings; they are lured away and enticed by them. Once those cravings conceive, they give birth to sin; and when sin grows up, it gives birth to death. Don’t be misled, my dear brothers and sisters…” Oh! I am actually tempted by myself? That would have to mean the devil didn’t make me do it!

Since then, as I have given it some thought, I have come to the understanding that there is temptation that comes from the forces of evil in the world. But, while that is true, it is also true that “The Devil Made Me Do It” can easily turn into an excuse where I can take the blame off myself and lay it in other places even though far more often than not, I alone am guilty when I fall into temptation.

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What I need to do is, remember to be thankful for all those good and perfect gifts that come from God and to prayerfully use those gifts to help me conquer those temptations. When I can overcome at least some of my temptations, I will be a better person for the effort.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Grace and Peace,
Keith

Copyright 2016, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Author:

Spirita Spiro (Esperanza for "Spirit's Breath) is rather new in my life. But the blog is not. I began writing a blog several years ago. It lived under the title, "The Pastor Ponders." Over the years I have tried several different names and "The Pastor Ponders" always seemed to fit best. I am trying again with Spirita Spiro. For 27 years I was a full-time pastor in the United Methodist Church. This year, August 2018, I semi-retired (I can't actually retire quite yet) and began teaching social studies. It is something I have always wanted to do and if I was going to do this, I needed to make it sooner rather than later. So, I made the move. I thought with the career change there also needed to be a name change to the blog and other things, such as spiritual direction. Spirita Spiro is my attempt to share some of my thoughts. I often share what I am thinking with my dog "Bishop," but he keeps his thoughts to himself. He will even go to sleep sometimes while I am sharing my thoughts with him. The truth is, if it doesn't involve getting his ears scratched, his belly rubbed or some kind of treat, he really doesn't care. I will say this for him, he never argues with me or tells me I am wrong. So, I decided to share some of my thoughts with whoever might come across this blog in their ramblings around the Internet. I live with my wife Cindy and our little dog in Lufkin, Texas. I spent the past 27 years as a full-time United Methodist pastor. Most recently I served as pastor of First United Methodist Church in Sweeny, Texas. I have also served United Methodist congregations throughout East Texas including rural Madison County (Elwood UMC), Lovelady (First UMC) and Kennard (Center Hill UMC), Canton (First UMC), rural Smith County (Mt. Sylvan UMC and Union Chapel UMC), Grapeland (First UMC), Tyler (Pleasant Retreat UMC), Santa Fe (Aldersgate UMC), Freeport (First UMC) and Oyster Creek (Oyster Creek UMC), Diboll (First UMC), and now Sweeny (First UMC). My wife Cindy and I have been married for over 40 years. We have two grown sons. Wayne and his wife Nikki and all our grandsons (Kaleb, Noah, and Jaxon) live in Southern California. Christopher and his wife Morgan and both our granddaughters (Jenna and Natalie) live in Tyler Texas. I enjoy preaching and all aspects of preaching from research to writing to the actual preaching event. I also love writing, reading, playing the guitar as well as a bit of drawing. I have spent quite a bit of time over the past two years working with paracord on various projects, mostly prayer ropes I usually give away. I sing bass with a local barbershop chorus called The Coastalaires. I have also recently begun doing a little wood carving. I also enjoy playing with Bishop, something he likes a great deal better than listening to my thoughts. I hold an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Business Data Processing, specializing in Microcomputers from San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas, a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a minor in History from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX, a Master of Divinity from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX and a Doctor of Ministry from Carolina University of Theology. When I was a student at Carolina, the school was in Iron Station North Carolina. They have since relocated to Manassas Virginia (Yeah, go figure, a school named Carolina geographically in Virginia). This blog is mostly devotional writing, but there are other things here too. Just about every week I will either post my sermon manuscript or a video of the worship service. On occasion, I will post something I see in society. Occasionally I write a short story, a poem, or a song and will post it here too. I will say this, my motivations for writing this blog are really selfish. I write it to get what I am thinking out of my head and onto something a bit more permanent. They say, after all, once something is on the internet it never really goes away. Still, I hope you enjoy reading it. And, should you desire, you can one-up Bishop and actually tell me what you think. Who knows, it might generate a bit of discussion between you and me and anyone else who might make their way here. With Joy and Thankfulness, Keith Sweeny, Texas May 2018

3 thoughts on “The Devil Made Me Do It, Ah, No…

  1. Pastor Broyles, when we are tempted doesn’t God, Jesus, & Holy Spirit give us the power to overcome any temptation if we ask? I’m having a problem overcoming a specific temptation, & I haven’t been very successful at winning the battle. Is it because I have a lack of faith, that when ask our Lord for help with my temptation that I keep doing what I don’t want to do?

    1. Robert you just keep going back and lifting it up to God. Admit that you have fallen back into a sin and ask God to take it away. It isn’t easy. No one ever said it was. I probably “quit” smoking a dozen times or more before I actually quit. My efforts lasted anywhere from hours to about two weeks. When I finally quit I started to pray, “God, help me get through the next hour without smoking.” An hour later I had the same prayer. It moved from an hour to three hours. Then to a day. Perhaps something along those lines is the way to go. You feel some success along the way.

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