Pentecostal Sermons and Bible Studies by Pastor Jim Feeney, Ph.D.

“The Devil Made Me Do It!”
Blameshifting Since the Garden of Eden

Summary:  “Adam blamed Eve, Eve blamed the serpent, and the serpent didn’t have a leg to stand on!” So goes the old saying, and it’s pretty close to the biblical account in Genesis. Our first parents invented blameshifting, an evil habit that we must work diligently to put out of our own lives.

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Genesis 2:16-17; 3:12-13  And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die” … [3:12] The man said, “The woman  you put here with me — she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.” Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

One of man’s earliest bad habits — blameshifting — had its origin in the Garden of Eden, after Adam and Eve had eaten the forbidden fruit. From that day to this, men and women have inherited in our moral “DNA” this sinful tendency to blame others rather than ourselves for our faults and sins.

Adam blameshifted twice! — he blamed (1) God and (2) the woman.

And after this Eve (3) blamed the devil. Three instances of trying to transfer blame to others, and from that day on, the tendency of men and women, when confronted with their sins, is to find someone else to blame — God, the devil, or some other person.

1) Blaming God —

When God confronted them with their sin of disobedience to His command, Adam’s immediate response to God was, “The woman you put here with me — she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.”

Still today we hear words like those, blaming God for visible evils. Someone will say critically, for example, “If God is so loving and just, then what about…

• the world’s starving children?
 
• wars, murders, etc., in this world God made?
 
• the hardships we endure in this life?”

We hear such comments from people trying to blame the Lord for the mess man’s sins have caused in this fallen world. The apostle Paul replied to this faulty thinking (Romans 9:20): “But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’”

God had set our earliest parents, Adam and Eve, in a creation of matchless beauty and perfection. They then violated the one single restriction God had placed upon them and ate the forbidden fruit, thereby plunging our world into sin and its catastrophic results — sickness, death, violence, lust, greed, and many other kinds of evil.

Adam and Eve immediately set about to justify themselves by assigning blame elsewhere. But the fact remains that this fallen world and all the evil in it are not God’s fault! He created it perfect. The first humans, and every human since, corrupted it with sin.

Job 1:18-22  While he was still speaking, yet another messenger came and said, “Your sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brother’s house, when suddenly a mighty wind swept in from the desert and struck the four corners of the house. It collapsed on them and they are dead, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!” At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.” In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.

Remember Job when you see hardships and heartaches around you, or experience them yourself. Job wisely “did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.”

Critics of our faith in God often point to the starving children in poverty-stricken areas. Are there such? Of course. Is God causing them to starve? Of course not. Israel’s King David lived 3,000 years ago, in a time when life could be very rigorous and food was often difficult for everyone to obtain. Yet David could declare, “I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread” (Psalm 37:25). Live for God, serve God fully, and He will always provide (Philippians 4:19). This is further declared in Proverbs 10:3 — “The Lord does not let the righteous go hungry.”

What about the evil, the wars, the murders, etc., in the world? Is God to blame? No! We sinful humans are to blame for our sins and for the evil we cause (James 1:13-14) — “When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed.” Jesus confirmed this when He said, “…from your heart come the evil ideas which lead you to kill, commit adultery, and do other immoral things; to rob, lie, and slander others” (Matthew 15:19, GNT).

The Proverb (19:3, GNT), in one brief sentence, perfectly captures this human blameshifting tendency: “Some people ruin themselves by their own stupid actions and then blame the Lord.”

2) Blaming the devil —

Remember Eve’s classic blameshift (Genesis 3:13)? — “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” I suspect that I am correct in interpreting her reply as emphasizing something like this: “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” In other words, it was he, not me!

There’s no doubt, Satan is evil (John 8:44b) — “He was a murderer from the beginning…” In the bible he is called “the tempter” (Matthew 4:3; 1 Thessalonians 3:5). But we don’t need to give in to his temptations! See the next Scripture.

Acts 5:3-4  Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied just to human beings but to God.”

Satan tempted Ananias, yes, that is clear. But God held Ananias accountable for accepting and giving in to Satan’s temptation. Fur sure, the devil and his demons tempt us continually. But they have no power to force us to sin; they can only offer the temptations. It’s our decision either to reject the devil’s wiles or to fall for them. Let’s read further, in the apostle Paul’s words, to see where responsibility for resisting temptation resides.

1 Corinthians 10:12-13  So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

Will we be tempted by the world, the flesh, and the devil? Certainly. Are we all tempted? Yes (it’s “common to mankind”). But must we fall to temptation? No! Paul assures us that God will “not allow you be tempted beyond what you are able … you will be able to endure it” (vs. 13, NASB).

So when the devil tempts you to evil, “Resist him, standing firm in the faith” (1 Peter 5:9). The apostle James gives us a simple formula for victory: “Submit…to God. Resist the devil … Come near to God” (James 4:7-8).

3) Blaming others —

Remember Adam? — “The woman you put here with me — she gave me some fruit…” (Gen. 3:12). How about you? Do you blame your spouse for your problems? Or do you blame your job? your church? your pastor? your children?

Sadly, there are modern trends in counseling (even some Christian counseling) that encourage you to find someone else to blame for your problems. Nowadays, everyone is trying to prove that they are “victims.” That way, they are fooled into thinking that they don’t need to take any personal accountability for anything.

But remember James’s words: “Each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed” (James 1:14). It’s not always the other guy! The apostle Paul rightly declared that “all have sinned” (Romans 3:23). John confirms this, writing to believers, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves” (1 John 1:8). These verses speak of our accepting accountability for our sins, not looking to transfer the blame to someone or something else.

Matthew 7:3-5  “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

Recognize your own “planks,” and you’ll stop blaming others for their “specks.” I can’t change the other person. My job is to deal with myself, to crucify my flesh and its evil inclinations.

In sum, victory in our lives comes when we refuse to blame God or the devil or anyone else for our problems, but to take personal responsibility for our actions, to repent as needed, and to seek the Lord’s help in dealing successfully with the “planks” in our own eyes. No blameshifting! Let’s break the cycle handed down to us by Adam and Eve and take full accountability for our own sins.

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Pentecostal Sermons and Bible Studies
by Pastor Jim Feeney, Ph.D.