2 Timothy 2:26
Every once and a while in the local church, someone gets so bent out of shape and upset with the church leadership that he behaves in a way that is shocking to everyone. Often this person has served faithfully in the past; yet suddenly he becomes a raging torrent—accusing the pastor, getting upset with the pastoral staff, and trying to stir up as much trouble as possible. The amazing thing is that this person is usually blind to how ugly and ungodly his behavior really is. Often the person even thinks he’s doing the will of God by pointing out the flaws of the church leadership!
Timothy was having similar troubles with several people in his own congregation. Paul referred to this predicament when he wrote that some people in his church were “… taken captive by him [the devil] at his will” (2 Timothy 2:26).
The words “taken captive” are from the Greek word zoogreo, which means to take an animal alive. It is the picture of putting an animal in a cage or behind bars at the wo. This means people who are behaving this way are themselves victims—somehow caught and trapped by the devil, caged in resentment or bitterness that drives them to act in a fashion that is inconsistent with who they really are!
When Paul says “taken captive by him [the devil] at his will,” it could be better rendered:
“… who are taken captive by him [the devil] to carry out the devil’s will.”
Here we see a picture of a believer whose emotions the devil has manipulated until the person himself becomes the source of strife, discord, and subversion in the church, all the while thinking that he is doing the will of God. This is a deceived believer, captured by the enemy and now working for the devil to disrupt the local church!
Offense is usually the entry point the devil uses to seduce a believer into this behavior. And it’s amazing just how quickly a dart of offense from the enemy can be thrown into a person’s heart. Equally amazing is the speed in which just one of his evil darts can change that person’s perspective of someone he used to honor and respect! In a matter of seconds, his entire view of that other person can become adversely affected.
Like the dripping of water, the devil begins to repeatedly strike a person’s mind with accusations against the one who was once so revered. Let’s say the one accused is the person’s pastor. The enemy might pound that person’s mind with false allegations such as these:
- He is so arrogant and proud!
- If other people saw what you see, no one would attend this church.
- He doesn’t appreciate you.
- He doesn’t deserve to have you serve on his staff. Leave him!
- The people in this city need a pastor who really loves them.
- It’s time for you to leave him and go start your own church!
When the enemy is attacking the mind and emotions in this way, the victim often doesn’t realize that deception is trying to creep into his heart. He is falling into the devil’s trap and doesn’t even know it! At the moment it is happening, the person really believes that what he is thinking and doing is right. This is a classic example of a believer taken captive by the devil to do the devil’s will. This believer truthfully believes he is acting in a right spirit and executing the will of God as he rebels against his God-ordained authority.
Thankfully, God can deal with that person’s heart and reveal how wrong he is, and his relationship with his authority can be completely restored. However, restoration in these kinds of cases is a rare occurrence. The damage is usually so severe that people are left deeply wounded—which is precisely the objective the devil wants to accomplish!
Let me give you this advice to help you avoid ever being caught in this devilish deception. Whenever something becomes a major issue between you and someone else, you would be wise to back up and reexamine what you are upset about. So often the person you are upset with is someone you love and need in your life. Therefore, ask yourself these questions:
- Do I want to let the devil build a wall between me and that other person over something that won’t even matter one or two years from now?
- Do I really think that person intended to hurt me?
- Wouldn’t it be better to forgive that person and preserve our relationship that has taken so long to build?
- Is what happened really so serious, or am I blowing the whole incident out of proportion?
- Have I ever been guilty of doing the same thing to someone else?
I have discovered from my own experience through the years that the devil is constantly seeking opportune moments to wedge bad feelings between people. He is a master at embellishing real or imagined offenses until they become inflated and larger than life. And he knows just when to “sock it to you”!
So slow down, calm down, and give yourself a little time to think and pray before you start accusing someone. It would be a good idea to find a friend who will be honest with you. Ask that friend to tell you the truth about what you are feeling and about how you are behaving. A good dose of honesty from a truthful friend might be exactly what you need to wake you up to what the devil is trying to do in you and through you!
MY PRAYER FOR TODAY
Lord, I never want the devil to take me captive to do his will in my church or place of employment. He is an accuser, so if I am tempted to accuse and slander, it means that the devil is trying to work through me. Give me the ability to recognize this strategy of the enemy as soon as it starts, and to put on the brakes before I get so embroiled in a conflict that I can’t see or think correctly. Holy Spirit, You are the Spirit of Truth, so please enable me to both see and to hear the truth about myself, because I want to stay free!
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY
I confess that I am free from the deception of the devil! My mind is renewed to the truth of God’s Word. My mind thinks straight and clearly, and I am sound and balanced in my perspective of the situations I face in life. I am teachable when my fiends tell me the truth, helping me see when I am getting too upset about things that aren’t so important. Therefore, I’m able to walk fee of the devil’s snare and stay balanced in my emotions because of the Word that works mightily in me!
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER
- Has there ever been a moment in your life when the devil trapped you emotionally and used you to stir up trouble? Were you later very regretful for your negative role in that situation? Did you ever go back and apologize for what you did?
- Have you ever seen someone else fall in this trap at your church or place of employment? At the time this incident occurred, did you recognize that the person acting so destructively was literally captured in his mind and emotions?
- If the person being used by the devil won’t listen to those who are over him, what actions do you think his authorities should take in response to his or her behavior?