1 Corinthians 12:31 NKJV
But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way.
The more excellent way that Paul was referring to was the Way of Love, the God kind of love. Today I want to preach about “Offense: The Enemy of Love” For those of you who don’t know but taking offense is the bait that satan uses to catch and bring us into his trap.
Philippians 1v9-11 NKJV
And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.
Paul is praying this prayer for all the believers in Philippi, encouraging them to allow God’s love to abound still more and more in their lives and encouraging them to live a life without offense. And it’s the same prayer that we should pray as believers today. The Philippian church were the most mature bunch of believers of all the other churches that Paul planted. They walked in love and secondly, they were the only church who supported him in the ministry. Because they partnered with him through prayer and giving, they became partakers of his Grace, his anointing and they grew and matured quickly. The Lord told me, “Lester in 3 years time, you should be walking in a greater dimension of the love of God and in a deeper level of humility”. I want to encourage you today to live a life free from offense.
Jesus said in Luke 17v1…”It is impossible that no offenses should come”.. Jesus said offenses will come to all of us (Matt. 18:7). It’s part of living on this planet with imperfect people — and each of us are included in that number! So, don’t think you better than others. Hunt for the good points in people today. Remember, they have to do the same in your case.
But we are commanded to live free from offense. So, we will see today how living free from offense is possible! Offenses will come. But the key is not to take the offense. Don’t take the bait. Don’t receive it. The word “offend” comes from the Greek word “skandalon”. This word originally referred to the part of the trap to which the bait was attached. Like a stick where you attach the bait. Hence the word signifies laying a trap in someone’s way.
Offense is a tool, the bait of satan that he uses to bring people into captivity. A tool that he uses to cause Christians to stumble. The minute you take offense, you take the bait of Satan, and end up in his trap where he holds you captive. And once trapped, he then uses you to do his will. God does not want you held captive by satan to do his will but to come to your senses, to get rid of the offense and be free to do His will instead.
2 Timothy 2v24-26 NKJV
And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel (don’t let the devil pull your quarreling string) but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare [trap] of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.
The purpose of this message today is to show you:
- how to avoid the devils trap of offense.
- and if you are already in it, how to escape it.
People who are always quarrelling, in strife, fighting, in opposition, rebelling, resisting authority, are the ones who come into a trap and are held prisoner to do the devil’s will. What is even more alarming, is that they are unaware of their captivity! And many times, the first place that the devil tries to bring offense is at home. Because when it is so close, it’s more difficult and challenging to recognize that he is the one behind it all.
God told Gloria Copeland, “If you can’t stop the devil with his strife at your front door, then you won’t be any threat to him anywhere else”.
So become aware and be forewarned. To be forewarned is to be forearmed. You must not be ignorant of his devices.
2 Corinthians 2:10-11 NKJV
Now whom you forgive anything, I also forgive. For if indeed I have forgiven anything, I have forgiven that one for your sakes in the presence of Christ, lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices.
The devil also uses offense to steal the Word of God from our hearts.
Mark 4:14-17 NKJV
The sower sows the word. And these are the ones by the wayside where the word is sown. When they hear, Satan comes immediately and takes away the word that was sown in their hearts.
These likewise are the ones sown on stony ground who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with gladness; and they have no root in themselves, and so endure only for a time. Afterward, when tribulation or persecution arises for the word’s sake, immediately they stumble.
Over the years I’ve seen people get glad when they hear the Word but when trouble or persecution comes, they let go of the Word and get offended either at God, Pastors or the Church.
Persecution is not a manifestation of people’s hate of you, persecution is a manifestation of satans fear of you.
You must understand that offense in itself is not deadly – if it stays in the trap. But if we pick it up, eat it and feed on it in our hearts, then we have become offended. That’s when it begins to affect us. Like temptation, it’s not a sin to be tempted but only when we yield to it. So don’t feed on hurt. Don’t feed on pain and all the negative things that have happened in your past life. Feed on God’s faithfulness. When you stop nursing a grudge, it dies. People nurse it, they rehearse it, they curse it, but they need to disperse it.
Offended people produce fruit such as hurt, anger, outrage, jealousy, resentment, bitterness and envy. God gave us the Holy Spirit and the fruit of the Spirt when we got saved. That is the fruit we should be producing.
Galatians 5:22-23 NKJV
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.”
As a result of being hurt and offended, they end up hurting and offending others. Hurting people hurt people! That is why we need to pray and ask God to heal us emotionally from that hurt.
Pray this…”God, heal me from every hurt, don’t let it poison me from the inside.”
Some Examples of satan’s bait:
- People get offended at their Pastor when he says something they don’t like.
- Perhaps they were not invited to an event.
- Perhaps you loan somebody money and they haven’t paid you back.
- Maybe somebody never greeted you.
- Some become offended at God because they never received what they asked for.
When the Holy Spirit speaks to your heart about letting go of an offense, it is GOD’S GRACE at work, trying to help you forgive your offender before you sink so deeply into bitterness and resentment that it will be harder for you to get out of it.
Hebrews 12:15 KJV
Looking diligently, lest any man FAIL of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled.
Bitterness troubles you, not the person you are bitter with. Bitterness is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. Bitterness does more damage to the vessel in which it is stored than the object on which it is poured. You know it in your heart when the Holy Spirit is speaking to you and the moment you choose to forgive, God’s grace is there to help you release that offense and forgive. But if you choose to IGNORE the Holy Spirit, the supply of grace that came to help you, simply will not be able to do anything for you. Because it is YOUR heart, you are the one who decides what will or will not take place inside you. Remember, you are the bishop of your own heart!
Ephesians 4:30-32 NKJV
And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.
Listen, only those you care about can hurt you. You expect more from them – after all, you’ve given more of yourself to them.
- The closer the relationship, the more severe the offense!
- The higher the expectations, the greater the fall.
- Sometimes you find the greatest hatred among people who were once close.
Husband and wife. Divorced now. Parents and children. Pastors and leaders. Business partners. Dating partners. Now because you were close and got hurt, don’t close yourself up. Open up. Trust again. Because there is good on the outside in other people. If you open up, you can receive healing.
2 Corinthians 6:11-13 MSG
Dear, dear Corinthians, I can’t tell you how much I long for you to enter this wide-open, spacious life. We didn’t fence you in. The smallness you feel comes from within you. Your lives aren’t small, but you’re living them in a small way. I’m speaking as plainly [the truth] as I can and with great affection [great love]. Open up your lives. Live openly and expansively!
Now if you have been hurt, abused and suffered pain from others, I am not saying it’s not real and it does not hurt. It does hurt. It is painful. It is wrong. What I am saying is that you have to forgive the offense and the offender so that you can go free from satan’s trap that has held you captive.
Proverbs 17:9 AMPC
He who covers and forgives an offense seeks love, but he who repeats or harps on a matter separates even close friends.
Stop harping on matters that cause strife. Like one guy said, “My wife is an angel, she’s always up in the air harping on something”.
What must you do!
- Forgive the offense and the offender.
You can’t get ahead, if you keep trying to get even. When we think about offenses, trouble grows. When we forgive, trouble goes. Unforgiveness is a blessing blocker. When I forgive somebody who hurt it, offended me, it doesn’t mean they were right. It means I go free.
- The second thing is to overlook the offense.
Proverbs 19:11 NKJV
The discretion of a man makes him slow to anger, And his glory is to overlook a transgression.
- To look over.
- To look from a higher place.
- To rise above.
- To fail to notice or consider; to miss.
- To ignore deliberately, to disregard.
Every time you overlook, every time you ignore, every time you rise above that situation, God places more glory on your life. He places more honor on your life. Now pay very careful attention to what I am about to say; “Watch people who have a high regard to what I just read in that scripture, who have a revelation of staying rooted and grounded in God’s love. They go through doors and enter into places that others normally can’t go into. They’ve chosen to keep themselves in the love of God. Forgive the offense, overlook it and then…
- Start praying for them.
Matthew 5:44 NKJV
But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,
Psalms 109:1-4 NKJV
Do not keep silent, O God of my praise! For the mouth of the wicked and the mouth of the deceitful Have opened against me; They have spoken against me with a lying tongue. They have also surrounded me with words of hatred, And fought against me without a cause. In return for my love they are my accusers, But I give myself to prayer.”
Give yourself to prayer. Don’t give yourself to bitterness and anger. Please don’t think that God does not see what they did to you, how they mistreated you, how they sinned against you. He does see it. And He wants to defend and restore you, but you must do it His way. And His way is the love way. When you release the love of God into a situation, you are releasing God, because God is love. And when you do, He then becomes responsible for its success. Because when you walk in love, satan can’t touch you. If you are always touchy and always get your feelings hurt, you give satan access to your innermost counsel. Ask God to heal your heart from that hurt and ask Him to restore that which was lost and taken from you. But don’t live a life of bitterness and revenge.
Romans 12v19 NKJV
…Vengeance is Mine, I will repay, says the Lord.
Our response to an offense determines our future.
The power does not lie in the fact that Jesus died. Because many great people have died. The power lies in the fact that Jesus rose again.
Don’t be shocked when offense comes. Jesus said if you live in this world, offenses will come. The opportunity to become offended will come but make a decision now, before it comes, that you will not take it, you will not take the bait of satan. You will not allow yourself to get caught in his trap anymore. Every person should have a special cemetery lot in which to bury the faults of friends and loved ones. Are you ready to do that? Are you ready to forgive, overlook, bury the faults of others, so that you can go free?
Confession of Forgiveness
I stand on Ephesians 4:32. I am commanded to forgive just like You have forgiven me. Because I walk in love, I choose to forgive. I release everyone of everything.
I am a forgiver; I am not a condemner; I forgive easily. I refuse to harbor unforgiveness, bitterness, and anger. I choose to love like You.
I send it away. I dismiss it and release it. I lay aside the bitterness, I let go of the anger, I cancel the debt. By the power of Jesus’ blood – His cleansing blood- I blot it out.
I wipe it out. I eradicate the offense. I refuse to hold onto it any longer. I put it out of my memory. I throw it behind my back. I cast it over my shoulder readily and freely, quickly and thoroughly.
Because love forgives, I forgive. I forgive by faith. In obedience to the Word, and because of that, I am free in Jesus name. Help me to love them like You love them.
Love will rise up in me. The next time I see them, the next time I think about them, Your compassion will rise up. God is love and so am I.