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The Devil Made Me Do It

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TIMELESS TEACHINGS

//KENNETH E. HAGIN

Some things that folks attribute to the devil are really nothing more than works of the flesh. It is important to realize that everything that's wrong in life is not directly the work of an evil spirit.

When the Bible talks about keeping the flesh under the dominion of the spirit, too many times folks think that only refers to keeping sexual desires under control. Well, it's true you'll have to keep your body under subjection in that area. But did you ever notice what else the Bible lists as works of the flesh or the old-man nature?

THE WORKS OF THE FLESH
Galatians chapter 5 lists the works of the flesh.

GALATIANS 5:17, 19–21
17 For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.
19 Now the WORKS OF THE FLESH are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,
20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,
21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like.

What many folks call works of "the devil," the Bible calls the works of the flesh. In Ephesians 4:25–32, Paul lists some of the traits of the "old man"—the flesh or man's unregenerated nature: lying, stealing, corrupt communication, bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, evil speaking, and malice. And he also describes some of the traits of the new man in Christ: truthfulness, tenderheartedness, and forgiveness.

You can see that keeping the flesh under control or under the dominion of the new man in Christ involves more than just keeping sexual desires under control. It involves keeping all the evil tendencies of the flesh in check and under the dominion of the recreated spirit.

'PUT OFF' THE FLESH
The Bible tells us how to deal with the body and soul—man's carnal, fleshly nature. We are to "put off" the old man with his fleshly lusts. And we are to "put on" the new man in Christ.

EPHESIANS 4:22–24
22 THAT YE PUT OFF concerning the former conversation [lifestyle] THE OLD MAN, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;
23 And be RENEWED in the spirit of your MIND;
24 And that YE PUT ON THE NEW MAN, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.

Who is to put off the nature of the old man or the works of the flesh? You are! "You" is the subject of verse 22. God is not going to "put off the old man" for you. You will have to put off the old man with his envy, bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking. You aren't dealing with evil spirits when you put off those evil tendencies; you are just dealing with your flesh.

All too often believers try to take the easy way out and call these evil tendencies of the flesh a "demon" or an "evil spirit." That way they don't have any responsibility; they can blame everything on Satan. But the Bible just calls these evil tendencies man's fleshly nature, and the believer has to do something about that himself.

The only way you can put on "the new man" is to renew your mind with the Word of God. Putting off the old man and putting on the new man is part of your "reasonable service" or your "spiritual worship" (Rom. 12:1–2).
You've got to keep those evil tendencies and attitudes under the dominion of your spirit—the man on the inside—and let the new creature in Christ dominate. As you "put on" Christ, you'll be able to walk in the Spirit of God and not in the flesh where you are an easy prey for Satan.

PUT ON LOVE
In Colossians chapter 3 we see how the new creature in Christ acts and what we are commanded to "put on."

COLOSSIANS 3:12–14
12 PUT ON therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, BOWELS OF MERCIES, KINDNESS, HUMBLENESS OF MIND, MEEKNESS, LONGSUFFERING;
13 FORBEARING ONE ANOTHER, and FORGIVING ONE ANOTHER, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.
14 And above all these things PUT ON CHARITY, which is the bond of perfectness.

In verse 13 the phrase "forbearing one another" means putting up with one another. When we begin to get agitated and impatient with one another, it isn't necessarily a devil at work. We just need to exercise forbearance and forgive one another, even as Christ forgave us (v. 13).

The Greek word translated in verse 14 as "charity" is agape—the God-kind of love. We are to put on love. Putting on love is a protection against the enemy, because then we don't give the devil any place in us (Eph. 4:27)

When we're born again, the love of God has been shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost (Rom. 5:5). But we're going to have to take the love that's in our hearts and put it on our outward man, because the love of God hasn't been shed abroad in our flesh. If we don't put the love of God on our outward man, Satan can have a heyday in our lives through our flesh.

Much of the time we think the devil or an evil spirit is causing problems in our lives, but it's really our flesh. As we practice keeping our carnal, fleshly nature—our body and soul—under the dominion of our recreated spirit, we'll walk in righteousness and true holiness. And that will eliminate many of life's problems.

[Editor's Note: This article was adapted from Kenneth E. Hagin's book The Triumphant Church.]