The Devil, You Say!
I believe in a real being with its own personality and program and whom we know as the Devil (among other names). I take the C.S. Lewis position that the two greatest mistakes we can make are to think that he doesn't exist, or that he DOES exist and that he is behind everything. We seem to be swinging away from a period in our history where we never discussed his work in the present age, on a personal level, to one where we blame him for everything.
Here's a clue: sometimes your roof leaks because it is twenty years old, not because the devil broke it. Sometimes your marriage breaks because you work too many hours away and are a real jerk when you get home, not because the devil jumped in and did something. Sometimes we don't need the devil's help to screw things up royally.
Know your enemy -- but take responsibility for the way you deal with life, including the warfare aspect of life.
Have cancer? I'm truly sorry. I thought I did once but it turned out to be a benign tumor and a couple of operations later I am as fine as I need to be. Was your cancer caused by the devil? I don't know. I do not doubt that the devil can create illness or direct the weather. He seemed to be able to do that, within limits, in Scripture and there is nothing to indicate that in his present, wounded, position he cannot maintain that level of malevolent interaction here. Yet, I believe that most of us get cancer because we live in a broken universe. I believe that we have tornadoes and hurricanes because we no longer live in a garden paradise but on a planet broken by sin and its consequences (including the Flood).
And if you break it, you buy it. All of it. Including the leftover pain of a slowly shredding genetic code that decreases in quality the further we are from the Garden.
We are to put to death the evil desires in our hearts and put to death the fleshly impulses that drive us to follow our lusts... and we are to flee the devil. Nowhere are we given permission to shrug and say "The devil made me do it." Nor are we asked to shake in fear at Satan's presence. Fear is not an option. We are children of the King of Kings. We bear some responsibility for putting this world right (remember invisiblechildren.com?).
A closing illustration: Flip Wilson made the catchphrase "The devil made me do it" popular. For him it was a fun phrase, but not one he accepted as theological truth. When his wife got tired of being married, she left him with the kids. He immediately quit show business so he could stay home and raise them full time. He did so honorably and very, very well. Later, he contracted cancer and died... never once complaining about it, acting helpless or fearful. He knew the devil would do what the devil would do. It was up to Flip to be honorable, good, and strong regardless of the situation in which he found himself.
Don't tell me what the devil is doing in your life. Tell me what you -- a child of the King -- are doing.
Live by faith. Walk on.