A friend recently texted me the following:
It’s interesting to me, that you attribute any “good” in you/from you, as coming from “Christ within me” ~ yet any “sin emanating from you is wholly your “own sinful nature”, without any attribution to the “evil one” and his minions. It’s a shortsighted view in my estimation. Not being critical, rather just surprising to me..

Most Christians agree that the good in them comes from God and there is only one true good and that is God. Jesus pointed this out in Mark 10:18 to the rich man. The apparent intention behind Jesus saying this was to compel the rich man to think about the concept of absolute goodness, in turn prompting him to question the extent to which this term “good” could be applied in a relative sense to any individual. The key takeaway, in my perspective, is that regardless of how highly others perceive us during our lifetime, we are inherently prone to sinful tendencies. Galatians 5: 16-26, Romans 7:19-25.

Recognition of our sinful nature causes Christians to give glory to God rather than accept personal praise for any good others may see in us. Romans 16:27,  Galatians 1:3, Ephesians 3:21, Philippians 4:20, 2 Timothy 4:18,  Hebrews 13:21, 1 Peter 5:11, 2 Peter 3:18, Jude 25, are just some of the passages that talk about giving all glory to God.

Hopefully, this section has clarified my reasons for attributing any “good” in you/from you, as coming from “Christ within me” as my friend states.

The second part of my friend’s text is “yet any “sin emanating from you is wholly your “own sinful nature”, without any attribution to the “evil one” and his minions. It’s a shortsighted view in my estimation. Not being critical, rather just surprising to me..” To clarify, it is my friend’s opinion that this is the case as this is mainly what he perceives after having many discussions over the years. It is not that there is no attribution to the evil one or his minions, it is that primary attribution is to original sin wherein we inherit a sinful nature which is the work of the evil one. However, it is unlike me to go around blaming circumstances or others for my actions.

The natural man is at odds with the things of God.  Romans 8:7-8, 1 Corinthians 2:14. Don’t believe me? Try letting a child grow up without correction. You will see sweet toddlers begin to do things that are not acceptable. They will push and hit siblings, and become greedy over their toys and parental attention just for starters. If you are a parent you know this all too well. This is the work of original sin, not the evil one or his minions directly intervening in a toddler’s life.

The Bible is full of accounts of Satan called by many names using man’s fallen nature to further his cause. From the time of Adam and Eve to Job, David, Solomon, as well as Jesus Himself, Satan has been involved in causing mayhem. You and I have never met Satan. We are not that important. However, the Bible also tells us this is a spiritual war. Like the wind, you can see the effects but not the wind. You can see the effects of the spiritual war but not the spirit.

Back in the 1960s and ’70s, a hugely successful comedian named Flip Wilson turned “the Devil made me do it” into a meme. Wilson was known for his outrageous antics, always pulling off something wild right before the camera. With a mischievous grin, he would confidently declare, “The Devil made me do it.” The audience would erupt in laughter, fully aware of the inside joke. We all understood that Flip was cleverly using a bit of theology to shirk responsibility for his misbehavior. It was as simple as uttering those words, “The Devil made me do it,” and suddenly you were off the hook with your parents, your boss, your teacher, or even your partner. It was like having a “Get out of Jail Free” card, and Flip shamelessly played it week after week.

I’ve got a different view on this than Flip and many others out there. Most of the sinful things I do are based on my own sinful nature. Paul explains it in this passage. I rarely paste in half of a chapter but I believe this post warrants it.

Romans 7:4We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin15I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me18For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. c For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

21So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me22For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me24What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!

So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature d a slave to the law of sin.

So, it is not that the evil one and his minions do not interfere in the lives of men, it is that men are prone to sin without any further help. We are slaves waiting for the day of redemption through Jesus Christ who overcame the Devil and his minions. It will do no good on the day of judgment to say “the Devil made me do it.” The only thing that will save us is our faith in Jesus who overcame it all for us, His chosen before the foundation of the world.

I cannot be sure but I think it is more likely that there is a division of evil into categories similar to what the Roman Catholic Church suggests. The natural sinful nature of man is obvious and is based on the inherited sin since the fall, lust, greed, envy et cetera. Then there are the horrific sins like torture, rape, murder. The spirit that allows or even approves of these things is the Devil and his minions. John mentions a deadly sin which is found in 1 John 5:16-17. There are various scholarly views on this passage as well.

There is also one eternal or unforgivable sin (blasphemy against the Holy Spirit). Some think this is the sin unto death but other scholars disagree. Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is found in several passages of the Synoptic Gospels, including Mark 3:28–29, Matthew 12:31–32, and Luke 12:10. There are various ways of understanding these passages and good men may disagree. That is the subject for another day.

In conclusion, those of us who acknowledge Christ as our savior should give God all the glory for the good things in us. They can only flow from Him through us to our fellow man. The evil we do is at least partly from our sinful nature that has its roots in the fall of man who was tempted by Satan. To blame Satan may be accurate but it is we who stand before God on Judgement Day. We either have the blood of Christ covering our sins or we do not.

I leave you with excerpts from Psalm 51:

3For I know my transgressions,

and my sin is always before me.

4Against you, you only, have I sinned

and done what is evil in your sight;

so you are right in your verdict

and justified when you judge.

5Surely I was sinful at birth,

sinful from the time my mother conceived me.

10Create in me a pure heart, O God,

and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

11Do not cast me from your presence

or take your Holy Spirit from me.

12Restore to me the joy of your salvation

and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God,

you who are God my Savior,

and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.

15Open my lips, Lord,

and my mouth will declare your praise.

16You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;

you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.

17My sacrifice, O God, is b a broken spirit;

a broken and contrite heart

you, God, will not despise.