“The devil made me do it,” a common utterance when we purposely or accidentally make a bad choice is descriptive, but inaccurate. While the devil is allowed to tempt us, he has no power over us. We alone are responsible for the choices we make of our own free will.
Catholic catechism states clearly that, “The power of Satan is, nonetheless, not infinite. He is only a creature, powerful in the fact that he is pure spirit, but still a creature. He cannot prevent the building up of God’s reign.” (CCC pg. 111) After Adam and Eve disobeyed God, disrupting the pure peace created by Him, angels also exercised their free will and many of them chose to deny God as their one and only king. They literally chose to turn away from God’s goodness, opting instead to follow Satan, the Father of Lies into the depths of Hell.
Once we do that, to the point of no return and final death, it’s over. If we give up all opportunity to repent of our sins, we alone make the decision to separate ourselves from God for all eternity. It sounds like a terrifying message, but it can be thought of as a message of hope too.
If we recognize the powerlessness of Satan to corrupt us, we will make choices that automatically build up the Kingdom of God here on earth. Many saints have done it, even against insurmountable odds. We too have an opportunity to make the world a better place by exercising our baptismal promises to reject Satan and all his empty promises.
This is where I get a little baffled though. How many people in the name of God sin to promote God’s Word? The prolife radical who bombs the abortion clinic is not really building up God’s kingdom. The overbearing parent who disciplines her child by torture is not honestly serving God and teaching that same child God’s ways. Satan sneaks up on us, convincing us that our motives are pure enough to overcome any injury they may cause. Don’t believe it!
Unless we have purity of heart and intention, unless we exercise mercy as surely as we were shown it from the cross, unless we act prudently when we stand up for truth and goodness, we can easily be led astray without ever knowing it.
Pride, envy and ego have no place in God’s kingdom. “Vengeance is mine,” says the Lord. Standing up for justice and what’s right is good and noble. How we stand up for what’s right determines a whole lot more than any message we might express. It also reveals our character and willingness to submit to God’s power, will and authority.