In the 1970’s, a comedian by the name of Flip Wilson had his own variety show. One of his most popular characters was Geraldine Jones. This sassy, modern-day woman played by Wilson, turned the line “The devil made me do it” into a national catchphrase. It was said anytime “she” did anything wrong.
Audiences found it hilarious because it was obvious that she was using the devil as a scapegoat and excuse for her own bad behavior. She was never one to take personal responsibility.
Lately, I’ve been thinking about James 4:7 which states, “Submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you” and doing some contemplation.
Like Geraldine, how often do I too fail to own up to my own bad behavior? How can I do better to live out this verse in a practical, everyday sort of way?
In day-to-day living, I’ve been considering how this verse looks in my life when tempted in my reactions, actions, and emotions.
Do I try to use the same excuse in a more subtle way? Because the truth is that no matter what the situation, scriptures such as Revelations 20:12 have made it clear that I can’t point my finger at anyone else but myself when trying to justify my behavior and actions.
When feeling annoyed or angry with a family member, friend, or co-workers, rather than expressing it on the spot or letting it simmer inside, I’m discovering a better way of responding. Instead of running with the negative feelings churning up inside me, it’s better to respond opposite to their urgings. When I do, my entire outlook usually changes for the better, within minutes.
And by choosing to resist letting loose with these negative responses, I’ve found it’s also better for me not to become distressed.
So how does this method work in a useful, practical everyday kind of way?
For example, when my husband decides to clean his rifle on the kitchen counter, I can choose to resist the temptation to scold or criticize him. Although it doesn’t seem the best idea to me, as an alternative, I can overlook it and say nothing negative, knowing I can thoroughly clean the counter after he’s finished and has left the room.
Resisting temptation to have my own way really does work!
Also, with upsetting situation with individuals, instead of thinking how I could step-in and change or control it, I can resist being swept up into thinking it’s up to me to make it right.
Rather than choosing to create my own frenzy with worrying, losing sleep and energy by strategizing how to fix it, I can choose to pray and release it to God, trusting Him to work it out.
Resisting the Dark Side
When it comes to resisting “the dark side,” I can learn a few things from Stars Wars’ Darth Vader, who didn’t do so well in resisting darkness and knows well the consequences of choosing not to do so.
Born Anakin Skywalker, he’s a Jedi chosen to restore the Force (light). Once he falls into darkness and transforms to Darth Vader, each evil act he commits makes it harder for him to return to the light. At one point he states, “You are unwise to lower your defenses,” a truth he knows well.
Vader’s words remind me that it is unwise to lower my defenses and not resist darkness’ temptations.
How to resist temptation is really not so difficult or hard to figure out. It’s basically choosing to act and react opposite to the dark things I’m tempted to do or say, by following God’s guidelines offered in Scripture.
Below are a few biblical guidelines to help in resisting the darkness:
Give in to God. Follow what God’s Word says to do in situations, over my own emotions and understanding in how to respond (James 4:7).
Follow the Light (Jesus). Sticking to Jesus’ example of how to live over my own rationalizations and understanding keeps me in light and out of darkness (John 8:12).
Consider leaders and others’ insights. Not discounting or dismissing spiritual leaders or others who have learned to walk in God’s wisdom, thinking I know more than they do (1 Peter 5:5).
Dress-up in humility. Keeping myself in check and not thinking I know-it-all (1 Peter 5:5).
Trust Christ for Strength. Recognizing my own weaknesses and choosing to rely on God’s strength rather than on my own to resist (Philippians 4:13).
Look Into the Light!
Unlike Geraldine’s unrepentant character that launched a pop culture motto, temptation is not about looking for an excuse to sin and turn the blame on the devil.
Rather, it’s taking inventory of my own frailties and turning to look into the Light, as Hebrews 12:1-2 encourages me to, “lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.”
Resisting the devil’s temptations and choosing to obey God is simply about turning away from darkness and to light, as Vader finally does at the end of his life.