Are you trapped by an offense?
In Paul’s second letter to Timothy he wrote about those who were trapped by the enemy. He actually referred to “the snare of the devil” (2 Tim. 2:26). The word “snare” (pagis) refers to a trap, snare, or noose. This word describes how birds are suddenly entangled and caught. One of the greatest traps the enemy uses against God’s people is an offense. Jesus said, “It is impossible that no offenses should come” (Luke 17:1 NKJV). Somehow, someway, you’re going to be challenged with an offense. Someone is going to say or do something that hurts you, and if you don’t remain in the Spirit you will be ensnared by the offense. In fact, the word “offense” (skandalon) can be translated trap. It actually refers to the stick or trigger in the trap. This same word can be translated “stumbling block” because if one becomes trapped by an offense they will usually stumble into sin. What is so disheartening to me is the amount of offense that occurs in the Church. People leave churches because they have been offended; they quit ministry teams, they quit tithing, they quit worship groups, and they quit going to church because they’ve been offended. The services are too long or they’re too short. The messages aren’t good, the music isn’t right, the seats aren’t comfortable, the people aren’t friendly, and on it goes. I had someone leave my church because they were offended with the curtains. They thought the curtains were too drab for the sanctuary.
People can also become offended with Jesus. John the Baptist was in prison for his boldness against king Herod. During his imprisonment, he started wondering if Jesus was the Messiah or not; his circumstances actually overshadowed what he once knew for sure. When John the Baptist first saw Jesus he declared Him to be the One who takes away sins (see John 1:29), but the walls of his prison seemed greater than his knowledge of Jesus at the moment. So he sent his disciples to Jesus and asked Him if He was the Expected One (see Luke 7:20). Jesus answered, “Go and report to John what you have seen and heard” (Luke 7:22). Jesus went on to describe healing, miracles, signs, and wonders; He assured John that the gospel was being preached to the poor and great things were taking place. Jesus was confirming to John that He was the Messiah, but just before John’s disciples left Jesus added this: “Blessed is he who does not take offense at Me” (Luke 7:23). In other words, “Tell John not to get trapped by his circumstances. I’m still the Messiah even though he’s in prison and even if he remains in prison.” Our circumstances don’t dictate who Jesus is. He’s still the miracle worker even though we haven’t been healed. He’s still the Lord of the breakthrough even though our circumstances seem difficult. He is the Messiah no matter what our circumstances are. However, will we become offended with Him? Will we get trapped by an offense over what we think Jesus should or should not do? I believe it’s His will to heal, but I haven’t seen everyone I pray for healed yet. I believe it’s His will that everyone come to repentance, but I have some friends who are running away from God. Sometimes my circumstances feel like a dingy, dark prison, but I can’t become offended with Christ.
People can become offended with the Word, too. Jesus preached a challenging Word in John chapter six. When He finished His message, many of His disciples simply had enough. They said, “This is a difficult statement; who can listen to it” (John 6:60)? Aware of His twelve disciples’ uncertainty, Jesus asked: “Does this cause you to stumble” (John 6:61)? The word “stumble” also means to offend. Jesus wanted to know if His Word offended them like it did the others in the crowd that day. His Word is truth (see John 17:17), and sometimes that Word provokes us; sometimes His Word insults our mind to capture our heart. His Word is like a two-edged sword (see Heb. 4:12). It cuts to heal us; it removes all the unnecessary debris. His Word equips and prepares us for every good work (see 2 Tim. 3:17). However, all of the blessings of God’s Word will be stalemated if we become trapped by what He says and turn away from Him. Over the years I’ve watched many people leave a gathering where the Word had been taught, but rather than repenting they became ensnared in offense over the truth. In anger they resisted the transformation that God desired to bring.
The issue is not if you’ll be offended. Jesus clearly said that offenses would come; the issue is will you become trapped by the offense? It’s a terrible way to live bound in offenses because when we’re trapped we’re easy prey for the enemy. The only solution that I’m aware of is to relinquish your life to Jesus. If you are crucified with Christ and you have died to yourself, then you really can’t be trapped by an offense. Think about it this way: dead people cannot become ensnared by an offense. Say whatever you like to a dead person, but you won’t get a response. I remember standing before the casket of my aunt and it occurred to me that her blouse didn’t match her scarf. She wouldn’t have taken offense if I had said anything. Why, because she was dead. In all actuality if you are trapped by any kind of an offense, then it’s probably evidence that you haven’t been crucified with Christ. Paul said, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me” (Gal. 2:20). A crucified life in Christ will not harbor offenses when they come. Someone completely filled with Jesus will recognize the enemy’s snare and avoid becoming caught by the noose. It’s time to let go! It’s time to forgive! It’s time to die to yourself and let Jesus stuff you with Himself.
I decree and declare over you that you will be free from all offenses in Jesus’ name.