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Traps, Snares, and Other Tricks
By Wayde I. Goodall
“That they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will” (2 Timothy 2:26, NIV).
The enemy doesn’t like the church of Jesus Christ — the body of Christ. He will do whatever he can to disrupt, distort, and disturb God’s children individually and in church congregations and Christian organizations. One of the methods he uses to disrupt is to “trap” people.
The word translated trap (NIV): held captive (KJV), snare (ESV) is an interesting word that was used when referring to “taking an animal alive.” An example would be putting an animal in a cage or behind bars at a zoo. These animals are not dead, but are live captives — caught, not able to be free.
Paul introduces this idea by saying, “Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels” (verse 23).
Picking a verbal fight — arguing over senseless opinions
Frequently, people who are picking verbal fights are, themselves, victims caught (trapped) by the devil. When looking at their life stories, we frequently see hurt, rejection, pain, and disappointment either in their past or present. Their pain can come from their own decisions, from another person, or just from life itself. Typically, at some point, they transition from anger to bitterness and permit their hearts to become hardened and calloused. Their toughness is often a mask to cover up their fear and sense of rejection.
Their perceived freedom to act and say what they want is really a cage they are living in. Their calloused heart drives them to act in ways that are inconsistent with the person God created them to be.
What does this frequently look like? The person can be:
- A bully, controlling, seeking to have power over any situation or person in his/her life. “No one better dare mess with me.” ?
- Seemingly nice and dedicated but can become a source of gossip, division, strife, and subversion to other people and even to a church. ?
- Self-righteous and assume they can criticize because they are without fault — including their perceptions, decisions, words, family, etc.?
- A source of discord (or THE source of discord) in an organization or family — when people say (and possibly believe) they are doing the will of God … while really doing the will/work of the devil.
The devil’s (diabalos) traps can frequently be identified as mental harassment, and oppression of one’s thinking. Satan continually stays at it (mentally pushing) until he finds an entry point. The entry point (frequently bitterness and lack of forgiveness) is his opening to plant thoughts and accusations that drive a wedge between people. With this common tactic, hardened people often use slander, accusations, lying, “foolish arguments,” control, and misinformation in their actions with others.
Sadly, this happens frequently. But it’s a dangerous place to be in.
An offense (rejection, pain, hurt from another) is one of the most common tactics the devil uses to seduce a believer into this kind of behavior.
The enemy throws “flaming arrows” (Ephesians 6:16) into our minds and hearts, and can change someone’s perspective in seconds. The “arrows (hand thrown darts)” are like dripping water — repeatedly striking a person’s mind with accusations against someone he/she might have once respected.
Arrows can sound like — “He is arrogant,” “She doesn’t really care about me,” “This is not spiritual — they are just being political (or worldly, power hungry, selfish, or etc.)”
- When the enemy is attacking the mind and emotions the victim often does not know that deception is trying to enter his/her heart. ?
- He/she is falling into a trap and does not know it because that is what “traps” do. ?
- This is an old trick the devil frequently uses on people. As a result, these people affect other people with their negative, critical, and determined words and actions. The guilty party sometimes sincerely believes he/she is acting the right way and frequently feels he/she is doing the will of God while being divisive against God ordained authority.
What can I understand about this person?
- Restoration is possible — with God’s help. Restoration, however, is rare (see Titus 3:10).?
- The aftermath is typically so severe and the wounds so deep that the devil has accomplished his will.?
Often, only prayer and God’s intervention will change the perpetrator’s attitude.
How can we avoid becoming trapped?
Painful experiences and rejection (offenses) happen to all of us. Whenever something becomes a major issue between you and someone else:
- Think about why you are upset. What is really bothering you??
- Begin to think things through and work on forgiving the other person — not on getting back at them.?
- Focus on the fact Jesus was hurt, wounded, rejected, and treated unfairly.
“See to it … that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many” (Hebrews 12:15).
A reminder — forgiveness does not mean we continue to let another person abuse or hurt us. We forgive a person, however, we avoid their abuse, and build healthy boundaries in our lives.
Things for the offended — bitter — person to think about
Do you really want the devil to build a wall between you and others? Do you really think the other person has purposely tried to hurt you? Is what has happened really that serious (are you blowing it out of proportion — perhaps because you think that you can can garner support for your viewpoint)? Have you ever done — to someone else — what this person did to you? Wouldn’t it be better to forgive, and preserve the relationship (and all the other relationships that will be fractured because of gossip and animosity)?
Satan is the master of embellishing real or imagined offenses — until they become bigger than life and/or bigger than what actually happened.
AVOIDING HIS TRAPS
The devil knows the best times to get to you.
Slow down — calm down — and think. Talk to the Lord. Forgive offenses and turn people and their actions over to God. Let the Holy Spirit minister to you. Talk to a committed, confidential, mature, Christian friend who will be honest with you and point out areas that you can grow in.
Leadership is tough business. Protecting our own heart is even tougher. “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it” (Proverbs 4:23). The Lord knows and understands you and all that you experience. He will always be there for you.
Always know that I am …
Your Friend and Servant in Christ,
Wayde Goodall, D.Min, Dean, College of Ministry, Northwest University, Kirkland, Washington