If this question were asked of anybody, be they Christian or not, the given answer would be something like “when the devil comes and whispers in your ear” or something similar. One could also throw in that the devil put it into one’s heart or mind.
So the devil is to blame for everything, all the wrong things and the evil actions that happen. He is the instigator of it all, and all the evil that springs forth from man is totally his doing and his fault and his responsibility.
So we are let off the hook? It is not my fault, the devil made me do it. Now God does not see it this way. And I didn’t mention all the evil spirits, demons, angels, dragon, satan, serpent and all that, either.
When scripture speaks of these matters, once you break through the external shell, you find that all these problems come out of man because man not only allowed them, but conceived of, instigated and originated them. [from his “evil” heart]
But back to the original question.
The scriptural answer is James 1-14 “But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his*own lust“. [Every man is tempted when from within, by his own desire, he is tempted and led]. And brings forth sin. There is no mention of the devil at all. We also see in Romans 7 that sin is in charge and doing its own will and producing its own works.
Out of the flesh (the works of the flesh) comes… EVIL
Out of the (wicked)(stony heart of “the flesh”) heart comes… EVIL
Paul in Romans 7 spends the whole chapter talking about the power of the flesh but not once does he mention the devil or satan or any such thing. He says that his “I” was powerless to do good, and did only bad. This bad that he “does” is the works of the flesh, all the bad stuff. If there was an instigator it was the law which provoked him to sin, sin being the outcome of such provocation. [So God given law instigated sin from the beginning in the form of a commandment to Adam]. Just as Adam was in charge of himself (after he took charge) and sinned, so too do we, especially after provocation by law, do the same.
But you say, what about Jesus, he was perfect and the imperfect being (the devil) came to him and tempted him. Well there is a problem there. The same trinity understanding which gave rise to the catholic “mother of God” doctrine, gets that from the idea that Jesus is God in the flesh, and that his flesh, along with the rest of him, is also perfect.
This is probably one of the greatest lies ever. Not the idea of the devil not being the creature of popular acceptance, but the idea that Jesus was perfect in every respect. If that were true, he could not represent us as a sample of humanity. He could not be the perfect sacrifice if he was indeed, perfect, because God would be a part of it but we would be excluded from relevance. His victory would be hollow if it were not victorious over the same problems that we also experience.
“The devil” had to be represented also. Jesus took part in our humanity, not just by being here, but by being subject to the same weaknesses as us. During his stay on earth, he did not sin but rejected the advances of the tempter. When he underwent his “passion” and went to the cross, he actually engaged the enemy within, the nature of his and our “faulty flesh”. [This flesh that is fine if not provoked, but which is immature and given to violence if not left alone in its “happy place” (“heaven”).] This is a little different to the basic old covenant sacrifice of a lamb. While Jesus himself, his spirit, was perfect, (without spot or blemish), he took upon himself the nature of man, and was tempted in all points as we are. So the notion of the perfect Jesus (remember it also said that he learned obedience, and was made perfect by what he suffered) is wrong, it also says that He had to be made in all points as his brethren. (Heb. 2-17)
So either he was or he wasn’t. Either he was perfect in all respects and was tempted externally, or he was like us and experienced the same temptation FROM WITHIN this basic fleshly human nature. If he was God in the flesh but it was not like our flesh that we have to overcome, what would be the point? Even the fact that he would be “God” would nullify his action in regard to suffering our suffering. And the principle of incarnation would be lost, both in him and in us. His and ours has to be the same.
The victory, the overcoming that we are meant to achieve and experience, is fundamentally the same as his, other than that he had the power to overcome and we did not, but now we do, on the basis of his expression of the gift of life towards us as a free gift, which we are to claim regardless of opposition to that end result.
Just as FLESH is the description of the vehicle we call the body, so too was this very same FLESH the vehicle which Jesus occupied on earth. The flesh we experience is subject to all manner of problems, not “just” exclusively temptation. He became one of us in order to overcome the earthly condition, to literally overcome flesh by healing and restoring it, by destroying within it (by the fire of His Spirit) those basic elements which work against the body becoming that perfect creation as always intended.
The creation then, was always going to be a “work” of God which occurs against opposition, the spiritual gain in Jesus was instant, while in us it is held in promise, empowered by his word.
James 1 -13 Says God does not tempt us. Would this not then be the appropriate place to say that it is the devil who tempts us, in the very place where temptation is addressed? But it doesn’t happen. And in Romans 7 where sin in the flesh is addressed, there is no mention of him either. (And elsewhere it says “why have you CONCEIVED this in your heart).
The immaturity in the identity of the flesh automatically gives rise to the propensity to sinfulness, which in us we all failed to contain or curtail, but which Jesus successfully contained and curtailed at all times, until the time came to confront it and perfect the human condition, by which He was then immortalised and subsequently resurrected.
*[Rom.6-12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body that you should obey its lusts][after having been taken captive by him to do his will][for when you were slaves to sin][setting the captives free][slavery to corruption][2 cor 11-3 serpent but no devil][2 cor 10-4 warfare but no devil][gal. 4-3,7,9,10 gal 5-19 [heb 2-14,15,17][the devil had the power of death, but we see it is the flesh that exerts the power of death through sin and guilt.][slaves to sin by the accusation of the law][for the sting of death is sin, and the power of sin (death) is the law][devil=accusation][the accusing spirit][diabolos to pierce through with accusation] the accuser. The law empowered the accusation of guilt. To destroy the works of the devil.