We’ve all said something like, “Satan is really working on me right now.” And while this may be a true statement, I’m not sure its always helpful.
James 1:14 teaches that “each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.”
Because we are born sinners (Psalm 51:5, Romans 3:10-18), our flesh already has sinful desires. When Satan tempts us, he is appealing to the sinful desires we already have. But I’m not so sure that temptation requires Satan’s prompting. Instead, it sounds as though our own desires can lead us astray without any help.
I think it is dangerous to blame every temptation on Satan for three reasons:
1) Our flesh may have been acting alone.
2) Even if Satan or his angels did tempt us, our flesh was still involved.
3) Therefore, blaming Satan alone can cause us to lie to ourselves about our own flesh. It can be a way to avoid blaming ourselves and excuse any responsibility we might have for sin.
Don’t misunderstand, Satan is responsible for his own rebellion and sin. But that in no way diminishes our own guilt.
Its helpful to remember that this is also how God sees our sin. While He certainly holds Satan accountable for his sin, God simultaneously holds us accountable for ours. None of us can stand before God’s judgement and blame our sin on Satan. We are responsible for our own sin. (Incidentally; only Christ, and Christ alone can pay for our sin.)
In the end, as strange as it sounds, I think Satan likes it when we give him all of the blame for our temptation. So, let’s stop giving him too much credit!