"The Devil made me do it." Blaming demonic forces for our mistakes and misfortunes holds black people back
Although I am not a regular churchgoer anymore, I still speak to and surround myself with Christians who are both black and white. Even if you're not religious, I believe it's good to have Christians in your social circle. Surrounding yourself with genuine Christians helps ground me in a secular world filled with temptation and hatred. Growing up, I went to an African-dominated church in East London, but when I was an undergraduate student in Brighton, I went to a mixed church where most of the congregation was white. Attending these two churches, I gradually became aware of one major difference between black Christians, and white Christians. This difference was their relationship with Satan.
For many black Christians, I noticed that Satan is such a central and pronounced part of their Christian lives than it is for white Christians. Black Christians, particularly those who are of African descent, blame Satan for everything that goes wrong in their lives. Absolutely everything.
There was a period in my life where a lot of things weren’t going my way. Life was playing around with me or, more accurately, i was playing around with life. I was making a lot of mistakes in my professional and personal life. My mother, bless her, who is a very devout Christian, would always say to me during this turbulent period by saying: "The Devil is a liar. It will not be your portion."
When I sought consolation from my African Christian friends, they would spout similar refrains: “The Devil will not win.” “Satan’s works will not manifest in your life.” “You will overcome the demons in your life.”
If you genuinely believe in and practice Christianity, then the power of Satan is real. I am not arguing against that at all. However, I do think to place Satan or the Devil at the centre of all your misfortunes and wrong decisions will hold you back, even if you are the most devout Christian.
YOU are usually the problem, not Satan
From a Christian perspective, you can’t deny that Satan is a powerful force in human’s lives. There are many scriptures in the Bible which explicitly refer to the Devil; the fallen angel Lucifer and the manifestation of evil. However, the scriptures also mention human’s evil intentions. Have a read of James 1: 13 -16 which directly alludes to human’s capacity to follow the evil intent within their hearts.
It’s not uncommon to hear stories of pastors having extramarital affairs or embezzling money from their churches. Most of the time, when a pastor's wrongdoings come to light, and he or she has no choice but to admit their fault, the apology is always framed so that it was Satan who enticed the pastor to commit their wrongdoings.
Whenever African Christians, and it’s a trait I find common with this group, blame Satan for their wrong choices, I never accept their apology. I find it to be the height of insincerity. If a husband cheats on his wife with a young woman, he made that decision to do it. Wives will pray that Satan stops tempting their husband or pray that Satan will not put a pretty woman in their husband’s pathway, but I find this ridiculous. A man cheats on his wife because he has the desire within him to do so. The husband is the problem, not the Devil.
Self-improvement is about you overcoming yourself, not defeating Satan
Whenever something negative happens in your life, it’s easy to blame Satan or demonic influences as many Africans tend to. Lost your job. It is demonic forces. Wife wants to divorce you. It is demonic forces. Boss is giving you stress. It is demonic forces.
Believing that Satan or demonic forces are the causes of all the negativity in your life glosses over the reality of why you're now in a terrible place in your life and disables you from finding the root cause of a problematic situation. Sometimes, the reason you lost your job is because of a mistake you made or perhaps the reason your marriage is failing is that you're no longer fulfilling your partner's needs. Without rational reasoning and looking inwardly at yourself, you will never understand the root cause because you’ve blamed it on some vague, abstract concept of ‘demonic forces’ or ‘the works of Satan.’
I am a massive believer in self-improvement. But you can't improve yourself and become a better person if you cannot take responsibility for your actions and do what is necessary to ensure you don’t make these mistakes again. Even the Bible says faith without works is dead. Also if you believe Satan is working against you, you won't be able to combat Satan if you do not put in the effort necessary.
" Believing that Satan or demonic forces are the causes of all the negativity in your life glosses over the reality of why you're now in a terrible place in your life and disables you from finding the root cause of a problematic situation. "
Many African Christians need to start assessing their mistakes and bad choices as a result of their selfish desires or unwise decisions. Pointing the finger at some intangible spirit like Satan or demons will not solve your problems. Look into yourself, admit you made the wrong choice and then find the strength in yourself and through God to improve. No ‘demonic spirit’ can affect you if your resolve is strong enough.