And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.
— 2 Timothy 2:26
Every once in 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).
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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 zoo. 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, help me stick with the assignment You have given me for my life. I know that is where I am supposed to be — and I know that is what I am supposed to be doing. Forgive me for vacillating back and forth, in and out, backward and forward. I am asking You to help me become single-minded, concentrated, and focused in my determination never to move out of faith again. I want to live at the address of faith, for I know that is where I will please You the most. Holy Spirit, empower me to push aside every distraction of the devil and to remain fixed and focused on doing exactly what God has instructed me to do.
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
My Confession for Today
I confess that I live “in” faith. Although Satan tries to use situations to distract me and dissuade me from staying in faith, I have resolved that I am never moving from the place where God has called me to be. I will never relinquish the dream He has put in my heart. I will stay in this place; I will use my faith; I will be steadfast, unwavering, and committed to seeing His promises come to pass in my life. Because I have made this decision, I am a person who pleases God!
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
Questions to Answer
1. Are you living at the address of faith? Or have you moved out of faith and into the neighborhood of doubt and unbelief, where you know that you are no longer pleasing God?
2. How has the devil tried to distract and dissuade you from staying “in” faith? What people or situations has he used to try to pull you out of faith and into the territory of disobedience and unbelief?
3. What are you going to do to reinforce yourself spiritually so you can remain “in” faith until you see the full manifestation of what God has promised to you?