My wife read the book “The Bait of Satan” by John Bevere recently and she shared with me what she learnt. I would like to share some of these points in this reflection.
A bait is a trap. The bait of Satan is the trap he uses to ensnare us into his grasp and out of the will and purposes of God for our lives. The trap has to be subtle, not obvious nor easily noticeable. Then it has the power to deceive. John Bevere identified that the bait of Satan is to make Christians feel offended – offended with people, offended with our circumstances. We are usually offended by the people who are close to us or by people/establishments which we have high expectations of.
In Matthew 24:10, Jesus said this about the last days, and I think most will agree that we are living in the last days before Jesus comes again: “And many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate each other (NKJV).” The subtlety of the bait is to make us feel offended, which will lead to betrayal and finally to hatred.
John Bevere used the story of Joseph (the dreamer) to illustrate some of these points. The story of Joseph, which is found in Genesis 37-50, started with Joseph being the favourite son of Jacob. Jacob gave Joseph a special multi-coloured robe. These actions, although no fault of Joseph, offended his brothers. Later on, Joseph had 2 dreams that predicted that he will rule over his brothers and even his parents. This made the brothers even more offended. The brothers let this offense grow into betrayal when they sold him into slavery in Egypt. Here we see the progression of an offense to betrayal to hatred. It usually starts small, but if not dealt with properly, will lead to serious consequences.
When in Potiphar’s household, Joseph was falsely accused of rape by Potiphar’s wife and was thrown into prison. When in prison, he rightly interpreted the baker’s and the cupbearer’s dreams. When the cupbearer was reinstated upon his release as Joseph had predicted, he forgot all about his promise to get Joseph out of his unjust imprisonment. It was 2 years later that the cupbearer remembered his promise.
Joseph had every right to feel offended at the way his life turned out. His brothers betrayed him, Potiphar’s wife falsely accused him and got him imprisoned and the cupbearer forgot about him. Yet, because he responded in obedience and trusted in the Lord, God was able to work out His purposes in Joseph’s life. In Genesis 50:19-20, Joseph could say to his brothers that what “they meant for evil, God meant it for good”. As I reflected on this issue, I would like to share a little on being offended:
1. Within the church family
2. Within our family
Over the years, I have either personally encountered or have come to know of Christians who have been offended by what the leadership of the church is doing (or failed to do) or by something said to them. Rightly or wrongly. Members do have higher expectations of Christian leaders and especially pastors and people in full time ministry. When such expectations are not met, members become disappointed and disillusioned. A hospitalised member expects the pastor to visit him/her in the hospital, but it did not materialise. Members may be offended by how some leaders in church behaved or the way things were said. Some may be offended because their suggestions were not implemented. Some may be offended because they feel that the church is not sensitive to their needs.
There are also many opportunities for misunderstanding when people serve the Lord together. We can feel offended when we feel that our dedication to the ministry is not being appreciated, when we feel that other co-workers are not putting in as much effort as we are, or when we are questioned about our decisions.
Another area that we need to be aware of is the relations within our families. As mentioned earlier, we get offended more easily by people who are close to us. Parents get offended when their children are less than respectful to them, when their instructions and rules are not followed. Children get offended when their parents seem to pry into their privacy, or when they ‘nag’ too much, or when their individualism is not celebrated. Husbands get offended when their authority as head of the household is not respected and wives get offended when the husband is less than romantic.
Some of these examples may seem trivial, but that’s exactly how Satan lay his bait, his trap. It is subtle and has the power to deceive. As offense leads to betrayal and then to hatred, members leave the church and some give up their faith. Couples sue for divorce and children leave home and are estranged from their families.
And there are also those of us who have been genuinely mistreated (much like Joseph), stabbed in the back, betrayed, lied to, forgotten and have every right to be offended. How then do we as God’s people respond to this?
The author said that the first step to healing and freedom is “to recognise that you are hurt. Often pride does not want us to admit we are hurt and offended.” The next step is to forgive. In Matthew 18:21-22, the disciples asked Jesus, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times” (meaning – to always forgive, no matter how many times). And Jesus went on to teach the disciples using the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant that we have to forgive because the Father had forgiven us a much greater debt. And finally, to come to a point where we can pray for the person who have offended and hurt us.
Personally, the following ways have also helped me in coping with being offended (though I thank God that I am not one easily offended!):
1. To consider that the person meant well, although the words and actions may not have been kind. (Philippians 2:3 – consider others better than yourself)
2. To be willing to suffer loss for the sake of Christ. (Philippians 1:29 – For to you it has been granted for Christ's sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake)
3. To trust in the sovereignty and justice of God (Romans 12:19 – Vengeance is mine, says the Lord)
It is easier said than done to be truly obedient to the Lord. But when we do, He refines us into pure gold (Job 23:10). I hope this sharing helps us to be aware of the ways the evil one ensnares us, the Bait of Satan which is to make us feel offended, and allowing the offense to grow into betrayal and hatred. Let us learn from Joseph, who through all his trials emerged victorious because he was obedient to God. Then we can look at Satan and say to him, “What you meant for evil, to hurt me, God meant it for good.”
Eld Jack Lum
(With much help and wisdom from his loving wife)