Summary: Offense is one of the most devistating lures Satan uses to keep Christians from being effective in ministry. In this sermon I am going to review the Bait of Satan by John Bevere and suggest that it is possible to avoid and overcome offense.

Don’t Take the Bait

James 4:1-3

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Whom amongst us does not know that we are one body of Christ, instructed to love, support and build each other up in the faith? And yet whom amongst us does not have one or several other Christians that have offended us? Looking back, their offenses did not start out heinous but by the time we were done “demonizing” these “perpetrators” our “flesh wounds” soon became firmly entrenched into our souls! The closer the relationship and the deeper the love we once had for the person, the deeper our current “indifference” or dare I say “hatred” we have towards that person. If only our love for ourselves and our pride was not so strong, maybe we could have respected and made room in our lives for the differences of others! Offense is a tool that Satan has been using since the beginning of time to destroy not only our relationships with each other but also our witness of “love” to this world. In this sermon I am going to review the book Bait of Satan by John Bevere and in doing so challenge each of you to go to the foot of the cross and with the forgiveness you have received offer it to all those “perpetrators” that have offended you!

Offense is Affecting the Church

The modern-day church is facing both internal and external threats that has led many to question its long-term survival. For example, the Postmodern belief that truth is a highly individualistic creation of one’s own mind, makes it very difficult to teach the Bible is the absolute truth. Religious syncretism has obscured the truth so dramatically that the monotheistic belief in a single God is considered bigotry by most of this world. Due to the highly publicized fall of various religious leaders and institutions, confidence in the morality of the church has dropped nearly 20% over the last few decades. Church attendance in Canada over the last 70 years has been in a steady decline from 67% in 1945 to 13% in 2015, while atheism during the same time period has more than doubled. To make matters worse the next generation the baby boomers are 50% less likely to attend church than their predecessors.

While these numbers are serious threats, nothing reduces church attendance any faster than when members of the church start feeling they have been mistreated and misjudged by one another and therefore are justified to “demonize” and fight against their alleged “perpetrators.” When members stop serving by considering others better than themselves (Philippians 2:3) but instead feel entitled to their “acquired” positions of authority, the split and eventual dissolution of that church is not far away! After all, how many people in the church have stepped down from positions of service because they were offended by another member? How many people do you know that profess to be Christians and yet will not step a foot into the church because the politics are far too fierce? Is it possible for the wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked (Revelations 3:14-20) people of the church to avoid offense and fulfil God’s command to love Him and one another? To answer this question let’s first look at how offense occurs in the first place.

External and Internal Influences – The Foundation of the Cycle of Violence

Given the selfishness of our culture, many Christians believe we are living in the end times. While Paul tells us to have nothing to do with such people, whom amongst us truly can say we have not to some extent emulated some worldly characteristics? Do we not think about making money way too often? Have we not been abusive to our friends, family, colleagues and even from time to time church members? Do we not have people we refuse to forgive? Whom amongst us has not restricted the rights and freedoms of others when it benefited our own self-interest? As Christians we know we are not to emulate the sinful ways of this world (1 John 2:15) and yet we often find our hearts left unexamined and unrepentant are easily hardened by the deceitfulness of sin (Hebrews 3:13).

Since the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit and the Spirit desires what is contrary to the flesh; every Christian has an ongoing war inside of them (Galatians 5:17) in which the flesh, i.e. our sinful nature, often wins (Romans 7:18-20). Those who sow to please their flesh will reap destruction (Galatians 6:8). Since sin hinders our ability to hear God’s voice and seek His wisdom, too often Christians get their council from this world who tells them it is “ok” to “beat down” anyone who might jeopardize the selfish desires of their hearts! While we should celebrate and make room for the differences of others, I believe we are living in the predicted age when many will be offended, betray and hate others (Matthew 24:10-13) because they are lawless and have allowed their love grow cold for one another. If only we would anoint our eyes with salve (Revelation 3:18), we might come to know our true condition … we have broken the command to love one another!

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