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As I travel across the United States ministering, I have been able to observe one of the enemy's most deadly and deceptive traps. It imprisons countless Christians, severs relationships, and widens the existing breaches between us. It is the trap of offense.

Many are unable to function properly in their calling because of the wounds and hurts that offenses have caused in their lives. They are handicapped and hindered from fulfilling their full potential. Most often it is a fellow believer who has hurt them. This causes the offense to feel like a betrayal. In Psalm 55:12-14, David laments:
For it is not an enemy who reproaches me; then I could bear it. Nor is it one who hates me who has exalted himself against me, then I could hide from him. But it was you, a man my equal, my companion and my acquaintance. We took sweet counsel together, and walked to the house of God in the throng.
They are those whom we sit with and sing alongside, or perhaps it is the one who is delivering the sermon. We spend holidays, attend social functions, and share offices with them. Or perhaps it is closer. We grow up with, confide in, and sleep next to them. The closer the relationship, the more severe the offense! You find the greatest hatred among people who were once close.

Attorneys will tell you the most vicious cases are in the divorce courts. The American media constantly report murders in homes by desperate family members. The home, meant to be a shelter of protection, provision, and growth where we learn to give and receive love, is often the very root of our pain. History shows that the bloodiest of wars are civil—brother against brother, son against son, or father against son.

The possibilities for offense are as endless as the list of relationships, no matter how complex or simple. This truth remains: Only those you care about can hurt you. You expect more from them—after all, you've given more of yourself to them. The higher the expectations, the greater the fall.

Selfishness reigns in our society. Men and women today look out for themselves to the neglect and hurt of those around them. This should not surprise us. The Bible is very clear that in the last days men will be "lovers of themselves" (2 Tim. 3:2). We expect this in unbelievers, but Paul was not referring to those outside the church. He was talking about those within it. Many are wounded, hurt, and bitter. They are offended! But they do not realize that they have fallen into Satan's trap.

Is it our fault? Jesus made it very clear that it is impossible to live in this world and not have the opportunity to become offended. Yet most believers are shocked, bewildered, and amazed when it happens. We believe we are the only ones who have been wronged. This response leaves us vulnerable to a root of bitterness. Therefore, we must be prepared and armed for offenses, because our response determines our future.

The Deceptive Trap
The Greek word for "offend" in Luke 17:1 comes from the word skandalon. This word originally referred to the part of the trap to which the bait was attached. Hence the word signifies laying a trap in someone's way. In the New Testament it often describes an entrapment used by the enemy. Offense is a tool of the devil to bring people into captivity. Paul instructed young Timothy:
And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare [entrapment] of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.
(2 Tim. 2:24-26)
Those who are in quarrels or opposition fall into a trap and are held prisoner to do the devil's will. Even more alarming, they are unaware of their captivity! Like the prodigal they must come to themselves by awaking to their true condition. They do not realize that they are spewing out bitter waters rather than pure. When a person is deceived, he believes he is right even though he is not.

Buy God's Gold
Jesus' first instruction for breaking free from deception was to "buy from me gold refined in the fire" (Rev. 3:18).

Refined gold is soft and pliable, free from corrosion or other substances. It is when gold is mixed with other metals (copper, iron, nickel, and so on) that it becomes hard, less pliable, and more corrosive. This mixture is called an alloy. The higher the percentage of foreign metals, the harder the gold becomes. Conversely, the lower the percentage of alloy, the softer and more flexible.

Immediately we see the parallel: a pure heart is like pure gold—soft, tender, and pliable. Hebrews 3:13 states that hearts are hardened through the deceitfulness of sin! If we do not deal with an offense, it will produce more fruit of sin, such as bitterness, anger, and resentment. This added substance hardens our hearts just as alloys harden gold. This reduces or removes tenderness, creating a loss of sensitivity. We are hindered in our ability to hear God's voice. Our accuracy to see is darkened. This is a perfect setting for deception.

By now you are beginning to see how serious offense is. If it is not dealt with, offense will eventually lead to death. But when you resist the temptation to be offended, God brings great victory.

Messenger International
All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Author Biography

John Bevere
Web site: Messenger International
 
Over 30 years ago, John and Lisa Bevere met in college. John was a tennis-playing engineering student, and Lisa was a sorority girl. On their very first date, John shared the gospel with Lisa and she gave her life to Christ. Soon after, they got married, and they've been happily married ever since.
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