Matters of Faith: The Devil Made Me Do It

By: Rev. J. Loren Russell, BA, MDiv.


Romans 7:18-25

“I know that my selfish desires won’t let me do anything that is good. Even when I want to do right, I cannot. Instead of doing what I know is right, I do wrong. And so, if I don’t do what I know is right, I am no longer the one doing these evil things. The sin that lives in me is what does them. The Law has shown me that something in me keeps me from doing what I know is right. With my whole heart I agree with the Law of God. But in every part of me I discover something fighting against my mind, and it makes me a prisoner of sin that controls everything I do. What a miserable person I am. Who will rescue me from this body that is doomed to die? Thank God! Jesus Christ will rescue me. So with my mind I serve the Law of God, although my selfish desires make me serve the law of sin.”

Flip Wilson, an African-American comic who hosted one of the first Black comedy variety shows in the 1970’s, played a character named Geraldine, who coined the phrase that was widely used throughout America, “The Devil made me do it!” Many probably didn’t know that there was a lot of truth to that statement, and that has a biblical precedent found in Roman’s 7:15-25.

In that periscope, Paul explains to his readers the presence of sin in the human heart. He argues that we are born in and into sin, and that the law reveals just how deep sin is buried in us. Using himself as the example, Paul argues that sin’s influence makes him do wrong even when he knows what’s right. He says his best desires are not enough to stop him from committing the sin that he knows is wrong. He says that’s where the Law comes in. It reveals the depravity of his sin the war that rages within him, a war that he is incapable of winning.

Solomon, in his quest to share the wisdom the Lord gave him sheds light on a person who does not recognize the purpose of the law; “One who turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination.” Proverbs‬ ‭28:9‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

In the midst of what seems like an impossible situation that will surely lead to his eternal demise, Paul cries out, “Who will rescue me from this body that is doomed to die?”

The answer comes to assure his readers that the thing which looks impossible turns out to be very doable. ‬Paul cries out, “Who will rescue me from this body that is doomed to die?” He is asking for relief. He is asking for redemption. He is asking for life. John the Revelator says, “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you” (John 15:7). From the spirit that dwells within him, Paul declares that “Jesus Christ will rescue me.” He made a conscious decision to follow Jesus, to serve, not the law of sin, but the Law of God. The devil may have some influence, but once you’ve decided to allow Christ to be the head of your life, he empowers you to overcome Satan; to overcome evil with good. The devil can’t make you do that.

As we celebrate a day of remembrance of those who sacrificed their lives for the continued freedom of the citizenry of the United States, let me encourage everyone to make the decision to serve the Law of God, not the law of sin. Our continued freedom in a nation that was founded on the principle that all men are created equal has to be maintained and continued by abiding in Him who can give us whatever we ask in His name. Something that the devil can’t make you do.

Rev. J. Loren Russell, BS, MDiv is President/CEO of The JLR Company, and an associate minister at both Goodwill and Greater Universal Baptist Churches in the Bronx and hosts “Matters of Faith – The Radio Show” on Soul 1 Radio (internet), Mondays 8:00 – 10:00 PM., or by phone at 626-226-1448. Note: You don’t have to talk, but you can access the show by calling in.

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