1 John 1
Are you old enough to remember comedian Flip Wilson’s old line, “The devil made me do it”? Here was this character who had obviously done something bad. But instead of taking the blame, he pointed an accusing finger at “the devil.” Why did we laugh? We weren’t just laughing at his hilarious routines; we were laughing at ourselves—at one of our favorite indoor games: The Blame Game. And since he is altogether wicked and invisible and unable to challenge our accusation in audible tones, there’s no better scapegoat than old Lucifer himself.
But when this practice becomes a daily habit, it stops being funny and starts being phony. It’s when we become escape artists, dodging the responsibility of our own disobedience, that we carry the thing too far. Not just blaming Satan for every evil action, but finding him in every nook and cranny . . . thinking he is the subtle force behind all wicked events and encounters. It’s the age-old conspiracy mentality.
There are those, for example, who see and hear the devil in certain types of music. They tell us to play the tapes backwards and we can hear the subliminal satanic message . . . which seems a lot like reading a book in a mirror to detect its evil connotation. Strange. They warn us against Proctor and Gamble because the beard of a face in the tiny logo includes 666. Don’t laugh. So many believed this that the company was forced to spend a fortune trying to combat fears of a satanic connection.
You and I know there is a devil and a host of demons. There is an authentic “prince of the power of the air,” whose sole goal is to infect and influence with evil. He is on the prowl (1 Pet. 5:8), diabolical in nature and deceptive in method (2 Cor. 11:3). He is responsible for much wickedness, but not all of it—there’s also the world and the flesh, remember (1 John 2:15–16). If he cannot get us entrapped in one extreme, where he’s an imaginary prankster with horns, pitchfork, and red long johns . . . then it’s the other, where he’s everywhere, in everything, embodying everyone, and we start listening to music backwards and sniffing out signs of 666 in labels, license plates, and leaders.
C’mon, Christian, let’s wise up. We look foolish enough in the eyes of the lost without giving them fuel for the fire. Leave the funny stuff for the comedians and the phony stuff for fanatics. We’ve got our hands full maintaining a sensible balance on the tightrope of truth. For if there’s one thing the devil can’t stand, it’s the truth.
Some people spend so much time looking for what isn’t there that they fail to see what is.