When Jesus began His ministry, He came in the Lord’s authority and said, “He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free” (Luke 4:18b). He came to shine His light on our sin so that we can turn to Him and away from our sin; so that we overcome spiritual blindness. “Jesus said, ‘For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind’…Jesus said, ‘If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.'” (John 9:39, 41)
As I was meditating on these Scriptures, I thought about what has oppressed me most in my adult life (and what I see in so many others) – the sin of offense. The sin of offense makes us spiritually blind, and is a trap of Satan. Too many times, I have been offended by what someone else said or did, that hurt my feelings or made me angry. In the book by John Bevere, “The Bait of Satan”, he says, “One of [Satan’s] most deceptive and insidious kinds of bait is something every Christian has encountered–offense. Actually, offense itself is not deadly–if it stays in the trap. But if we pick it up and consume it and feed on it in our hearts, then we have become offended.” How many times have I played over a situation in my mind, and let my feelings fester?
He states further: “Offended people produce much fruit, such as hurt, anger, outrage, jealousy, resentment, strife, bitterness, hatred, and envy. Some of the consequences of picking up an offense are insults, attacks, wounding, division, separation, broken relationships, betrayal, and backsliding…The most effective way for the enemy to blind us is to cause us to focus on ourselves.” When I look at the times I’ve lived my life in hurt, I have been focused on myself; and our focus should be on our Lord, and on His will and work for His kingdom.
When I have lived from an offended place, I was certainly not working for His kingdom; I was looking out for me, which is prideful and sin. “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.” (Prov. 16:18) Quite often during these times (not surprisingly), I also wasn’t regularly meeting with the brethren (see Christian Community: We Are Stronger Together!). I was isolating, more vulnerable to the lies of Satan, and I was working against the church. Oppression is usually where the people have no control of their own lives and have no freedoms and they are living in a state of bondage. In these times (too numerous to count), I was in bondage to my feelings.
I know I’m not the only one to be in bondage to my feelings–just watch the news. We are a nation that is offended. We are angry, hurt, in division, and our love has grown cold (Matt. 24:12). We aren’t looking at the sin in our own lives; instead we are zeroing in on someone else’s sins and becoming offended by them (Matt. 7:3-5). And in doing this, the enemy is working to make our testimonies impotent.
As Christians we are to live our lives free in His righteousness, not try to be self-righteous. He has broken our chains to sin. “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness. Through these He has given us His very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.” (2 Peter 1:3-4) We don’t need to continue to be enslaved to the devil’s wiles; because of our faith in Christ we can participate in His divine nature.
We have a remedy to enslavement to sin and being ineffective for the Lord’s kingdom. “For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But whoever odes not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.” (2 Peter 1:5-9)
Jesus died on the cross to take on our sins, so that we no longer need to be enslaved, but have a full, rich life in Christ here on earth and in heaven for eternity. “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10) I encourage you to ask the Holy Spirit what is holding you captive and hindering you from freely living in Christ.