In the March 12, 2011 Sioux Falls Argus Leader, Billy Graham answers a question from a reader about the devil putting ideas into people’s heads. Billy’s answer could lead to a great deal of confusion.
Billy’s reader asks, “Can the devil put ideas into our heads? If he can, then how can we keep it from happening? And if he can’t, then where do temptations come from?” Read Billy’s article here.
Billy responds by blaming the devil for tempting us, “The devil certainly can put temptations before us, … he even can plant evil thoughts and desires in our minds…”
Billy then uses Judas as an example. Billy says Judas was a thief and selfish and this allowed the devil to influence Judas’s actions.
The story of Jesus and Judas is known by most people. Judas was one of the 12 disciples of Jesus, but betrayed Jesus for money. As a result, Jesus was tortured and crucified.
Billy now asks the big question: “Who was responsible for causing Judas to commit this terrible sin? Was it Satan — or did it come from within Judas’ own evil heart?”
I think Billy’s list of ‘those who might be responsible’ is one short. Could God be the one who directed Judas’s actions? Did God direct Satan to plant the evil thought in Judas’s head? After all, if Judas had not betrayed Jesus, Jesus would not have been crucified for the sins of the world. Without some betrayer, there would be no death and resurrection; Christianity would not exist.
Judas may just have been God’s scapegoat. Someone was needed to tattle to the authorities, and Judas drew the short straw.
Even without God or Satan, even if Jesus was just a man and nothing more, it is possible that Jesus was the one who set up the whole tangled mess. Perhaps Jesus told Judas what to do, perhaps expecting a different result. Perhaps Jesus expected a flogging and exile, perhaps a fine for misbehaving in the temple, something that would increase His PR with the masses.
We have no way to know. Neither does Billy.
Consider what effect it has if Billy is correct about Satan existing and poking ideas into people’s heads. Are people responsible for their actions if the idea came from Satan? At what point does Satan make the temptation so great that even Billy or Mother Theresa might succumb?
Supposedly, Satan tempted Jesus and Jesus was able to resist. Could you? If Satan offered to make you the supreme ruler of the world, would you say no? Think of the good you could do. You could make sure that excess food in one area gets to the starving people in another. You could ensure that medical research is done to eliminate those diseases we know are curable and start looking for cures for the others. You could stop war, famine, injustice and all the rest. Am I tempting you? How much greater would the temptation of Satan be?
Who then is ultimately at fault if Billy is right? It has to be God. God created Satan and gave Satan the abilities he has. God knew the future and knew what Satan would do with those powers. If you are having evil thoughts, it is God’s fault.
And for this, God is going to send you to hell for eternity?
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