Temptations & Snares
by Margaret D. Mitchell
Week of February 16, 2014
"Don't rejoice when your enemies fall; don't be happy when they stumble." -Proverbs 24:17
In this verse, “enemies” are defined as foes, haters, those who are hostile towards us. When someone behaves in a hostile manner, sometimes our best response is to simply not engage in the battle, put up our shield of faith and turn away.
Not engaging in hostility will protect our hearts. Engaging in hostility removes our shields of faith. Engaging will open our hearts to be hit with more hostility as we react to it, causing a cycle of multiplied woundedness and hardness of heart. Our hearts will become contaminated, and unrepentant anger can breed and sit ready to pounce. We will become even more easily provoked and controlled by anger, not love.
Don’t take the bait of what the enemy wants to perpetuate. Secretly hoping for other’s destruction is an iniquity—an inward sin. And The Holy Spirit sees it. Unresolved, it will sprout forth in our hearts and manifest as our own foolishness. Whatever ungodly secrets will continue to rise up, but they will be framed differently, even though they are each sprouted from the same root of affliction. These issues within our hearts will prove to be a snare to us going forward until we pray through them properly—forgiving, healing, closing the door on the affliction and blessing our enemies (Matthew 5:44). This is God’s way.
Do you secretly consider your loved ones to be enemies? Do you have an attitude of enemy resistance instead of love towards your family and friends? Anger is a counterfeit shield to cover and protect our wounds. God’s way is for our wounds to be healed by Jesus, not held onto in justification for our afflictions (Is 53:5, 1 Peter 2:24). We have to willingly come to the cross in our hearts and receive the healing and deliverance that Jesus died to give us. This is the path to freedom.
Do we secretly believe haters don’t deserve God’s love and protection because they afflict us? Believing we deserve God’s love but haters do not is a lie. God loves us all the same. Matthew 5:45 tells us "...He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous." We don’t deserve God’s love anymore than our enemies. Everyone’s sin is wretchedness. Isaiah 64:6 tells us "We are all infected and impure with sin. When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags. Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall, and our sins sweep us away like the wind."
Only the gracious blood covenant of Jesus makes provision for us to be redeemed. And if we don’t extend this same grace to our enemies, God will not forgive us (Matt 6:12). Our freedom from the cycle of hostility begins in our own hearts. We cannot wait for others to get right with God. But we can choose to change our own course.
Do we secretly wish for our enemies’ demise? If so, we may not know about God’s truth in Colossians 3:14, “having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross." Here, God refers to sin debt as hostility, and He tells us that this hostility has already been nailed to the cross—past tense, not just our secret hostility but our enemies’ too, even if they haven’t chosen to nail theirs yet.
Our every thought, every heart’s desire, every belief and every action has to come into submission to the cross, where Jesus did a completed work on our behalf. So declare and believe that the blood covenant of Jesus is enough to heal and deliver everyone out of sin. Relinquish your secret hostility towards others to the cross. God will honor you for doing so.
What does our outward behaviors towards our enemies look like? The only way we can truly love our enemies God’s way is to ask Him to put more of His love in our hearts for them, We must intentionally choose to see the situation and the enemy through God’s eyes. To think that we alone are capable of doing this is arrogant. We must humble ourselves and ask God to show up and help us. We must confess to Him that apart from Him we can do nothing (John 15:5). Choosing love in difficult situations is a character-building discipline for which God will bless.
Circumcise the Flesh
Our flesh has to be circumcised. Whatever our enemies provoke in us is a snare that already resides within our hearts. Whatever sin we see afflicted upon us as hostility, we have committed ourselves (Romans 2:3). Ours may look different than theirs, but the sin is there; and it won’t stop sprouting forth on its own. In order for us to not put on more hostility from the enemy, the snare in our own heart needs to be snipped.
Our own foolishness will cause us to stumble into snares and bring more foolishness upon us. This is defiled multiplicity. Duplicity of sin that piles one sin upon the other due to a root issue within our own hearts that has not been fully dealt with—the snare cut out of our hearts (circumcision) and the door of affliction finally closed.
Beware, the enemy will try to tempt us to process through the hurt another way, through some kind of void filling effort, i.e. comfort food, drinking, etc. But remember, when Jesus fasted in the desert for 40 days and nights, the enemy knew he was hungry, so he tempted Him with food (Luke 4:2-4). Jesus answered with the Word of God. He knew God’s word was a sharp weapon and that His dependency was on God alone, not food or any other substance.
So what hostility (sin debt) keeps tripping you up? What sin are you justifying? The sin idol you hold onto will be the same sin you will attract and the same one you will act out upon. Is there a snare within your heart that causes you to take bait of temptation from the devil? What do you secretly hunger for? What are you a bit too curious about? What fear or unbridled ambition drives you to run ahead of God? What do you fear most? Questions like these will lead you to identify the snares within your heart. Ask The Holy Spirit to help you root these snares out and to fill you afresh with Him.
Pray: Lord, thank you for Your mercy and grace. I intentionally choose to forgive [name your enemies] for afflicting me. I confess this affliction [name the deed and hurt] as my own sin. I repent of having operated in this sin affliction inwardly and outwardly. No more “justified” sin. No more carrying hostility (sin debts). Cleanse my heart, O Lord. Snip every snare. Help me to receive Your truth. Come and heal my heart. I apologize to You and myself for facilitating harm inwardly and outwardly. I release [name your enemies] to You for You to deal with. Bring conviction. Bring repentance. Deliver them. Pour out your abundant mercy and grace upon them. Help them to receive all of Your goodness, Your love, Your blessings. This day, I nail every hostile sin debt to the cross in alignment with Your heart. I release it all to You. I lay down my shield of angst and receive from You Your shield of faith. I bless my enemies. And I thank You that You alone paid this sin debt in full and that I can do all things through You who strengthens me. Thank You for Your faithfulness. In Jesus’ Mighty Name. Amen.
Margaret D. Mitchell is the Founder of God's Love at Work, a marketplace outreach purposed to share God's greatest power source - the love of Christ. This devotional was adapted from Margaret's latest book, "Enduring Grace," to be released soon.
Originally published Sunday, 16 February 2014.