Offense - Satan's Trap

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, March 28, 2013 0 comments

Last year around this time, my girlfriend and I had an experience that demanded faith and trust in God, especially on her part since it was more personal for her than it was for me. She has a cat named “Stella”. Stella is definitely a domestic, indoor cat that is not even allowed outside because she wouldn’t know how to survive. However, this doesn’t stop her from thinking that being outside is what is best for her and even attempting to jet out the door whenever it is cracked open. For this reason, any adult who enters the home has to make sure the doors are closed immediately. It only takes a few careless seconds for Stella to get out of the cracked door, as we found out last spring.

My girlfriend was out of town one late night when her roommate apparently had the door cracked open long enough for Stella to escape. She was not notified about it until the next day, when I went down to her house and the two of us walked around the neighborhood for hours calling and looking for Stella. After about three hours, darkness had come and we had to give up the search. My girlfriend called a local animal control agency for some suggestions, even though we knew that we had to pray and ultimately trust God for Stella’s protection. The only suggestion the professionals had was to put some fresh tuna or other cat food outside on the doorstep and hope that it lured Stella back. While I had to continue to open the door and scatter other neighborhood cats away from the food, the “trap” eventually worked! After a few hours, I heard a distinct “meow” outside the door and opened it to find Stella. She scampered away initially, but my girlfriend’s roommate was eventually able to gather Stella and bring her back into the home where she belonged.

This type of “trap” or “bait” that we set for Stella was designed with her best interests in mind, to get her back where she would be safe even though she desired to be outside and free. The adults who worked to get Stella back genuinely care about her and desire for her to be loved. We are not her enemy. As human beings, we also have one that works every day to bait or trap us. The difference is that he definitely IS our enemy. I’m talking about Satan, the one who “prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). The Bible also says that we need the “full armor of God” to be able to withstand “the devil’s schemes” (Ephesians 6:11). Part of his schemes is to set traps for us and hope that we “take the bait” so that we become hooked in a lifetime of darkness and despair. Since God loves people and uses them to accomplish His purposes, Satan revels in trapping people and using them for his evil.

If you haven’t figured out the connection to this week’s word based on the title and the first few paragraphs, one of Satan’s most common traps, especially in the Church, is offense. In Monday’s blog, Katie wrote about how we are the perpetrators of offenses against God and those He created. It’s very important for us to reflect on the ways in which we offend people and God. But I also want us to look at offenses from the perspective of those who are on the receiving end, because there is no doubt that everyone who reads this post has been in that position just as we’ve all been in the position addressed in Monday’s blog. Has someone hurt you deeply? Has someone betrayed your trust? Has someone rejected you or left you out? Has someone very close to you condemned you or disowned you? If the answer to any of those questions is “yes”, how you deal with it going forward will determine whether or not you take the bait of the enemy.

The Greek word that is used most often in the New Testament for “offense” is “skandalon”. This would be where we get our English word “scandal”. According to Vine’s Expository Dictionary, “skandalon” can mean “the part of the trap on which the bait hung that lured the animal into the trap”. A secondary definition says it is “a hindrance or stumbling block”. Just to be an equal opportunity dictionary user, Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary says that this word can be defined as “a trap-spring”. When you have been hurt or offended by someone else and you are battling the temptation to either get revenge or just hold on to your bitterness toward that person, Satan is desperately trying to trap you. He is dangling that bait in front of you, making it look good. It seems strange to think that such dark concepts like bitterness, unforgiveness, and revenge could actually sound good, doesn’t it? But think about it. The reason why those things are able to trap us is because we falsely assume that they will make us feel better or give us some form of control over what the other person did to us. Satan knows that these things are tempting, but also knows they will only create more bitterness and despair. That is why we need the full armor of God to protect us against Satan’s schemes.

So how do we avoid this trap that the enemy sets for us every time someone commits an offense against us? Well, the answer is simple and impossible at the same time. There is only one solution, and it is LOVE. It sounds so simple, yet any of you who has tried to love someone who has hurt you badly knows how impossible it is apart from allowing Christ to work through you. And the only way to allow Christ to work through you in loving those who hurt you is to have faith that God can deal with them better than you ever could. It’s knowing that He will show mercy when it is needed and punish when it is needed, and surrendering your desire to be in control of either to Him. Jesus did this when he was hanging on the cross after being mocked, spit at, flogged, and pierced. “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). As a man who also had the very nature of God, he could have been thinking about how he could punish them. He could have been thinking about how he could control the situation. Instead, he trusted his Father with their future. In doing so, he was completely free of the trap of bitterness and revenge that the enemy had surely set for him.

The Apostle Paul, who was once characterized by his zeal in persecuting the followers of Christ (Philippians 3:6), wrote to his young apprentice Timothy in his very last letter from prison before his death and demonstrated his willingness to imitate Christ in forgiving others of their offenses against him. In 2 Timothy 4:9-18, Paul is requesting that Timothy come and visit him and continue his ministry. He goes through a list of former supporters and partners in ministry who have abandoned the faith for various reasons and simply warns Timothy of those that oppose Christ. However, his ability to trust their future to God is astounding. “At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them” (2 Timothy 4:16). Paul is talking about a court trial. It’s quite a lonely place to be when literally everyone there is against you and all those who promised to stand by you have broken that promise. Yet, he doesn’t hold it against them. By faith, he surrendered all of the offenses he suffered to God and trusted Him to deal appropriately with the perpetrators. Though Paul spent a great deal of time in prison during his last years, his refusal to take Satan’s bait made him one of the most free men who ever lived!

You and I can be like Paul, who imitated Christ. Paul charged the Christians in Corinth, who were caught up in jealousy and quarreling, to stop “acting like mere men” who haven’t been changed by Christ (1 Corinthians 3:1-4). This leads me to believe that those of us who confess that Jesus is Lord have no choice but to let go of the offenses committed against us. If we hold onto them, how has Christ really changed us? Friends, there has to be a difference between the way we handle these traps and the way the world does. Nothing will make people notice Christ in you like your ability to love in the face of offense. If you’re holding on to bitterness and hatred in your life right now, I challenge you to think about what Christ’s death on the cross means for you, and more importantly what it means for those who have offended you. Surrender your need for control to the only One who truly CAN be in control of those who hurt you, and experience freedom in a way you never have before!