The Bait of Satan by John Bevere
This is day 6 of a 21 day fast for understanding the End Times (now), and knowing how to prepare for the perilous days ahead. Today I heard a sermon by John Bevere based on his book The Bait of Satan. The key scripture is Matthew 24:10-12, in which Jesus is speaking of the End Times (NKJV):
And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold (emphasis mine).
He pointed out that the word translated as love is agape, Christian love. So Jesus isn’t speaking of unbelievers, He’s talking about God’s people. People in the church—Christians—will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Lawlessness will abound in the church—among Christians.
Lawlessness means being a law unto yourself, not submitted to God’s authority. So, not necessarily sinning, but definitely not submitted and following Jesus. In an atmosphere of lawlessness, of course many will be offended.
Proverbs 18:19 says: “A brother offended is harder to win than a strong city, and contentions are like the bars of a castle” (NKJV). In those days strong cities were surrounded by walls, also called strongholds. 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 says:
For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ (emphasis mine).
Instead of the word pretension, the Phillips translation says “every deceptive fantasy and every imposing defence that men erect. . .”.
Bevere said that an offended person’s thoughts become strongholds—arguments, deceptive fantasies, imposing defences—and that is how offense leads to betrayal. He defines betrayal as seeking to benefit or protect one’s self at the expense of someone you have a relationship with—the ultimate abandonment of a relationship.
Betrayal leads to hatred. Hatred is not a strong emotion like love or anger, but is the absence of love, lovelessness.
Going back to Matthew 24, verse 11 says: “Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many.” An offended heart is the breeding ground for deception. They will genuinely believe that they are right, when in fact, they are wrong.
Offense and deception lead people to isolate themselves: “A man who isolates himself seeks his own desire; he rages against all wise judgment,” (NKJV, emphasis mine). Rather than seeking God’s wisdom or the guidance and counsel of their pastor or believing friends, the offended and deceived person isolates themselves and rages against all wise judgment. They seek only their own counsel. Isolation happens in the thoughts. It is very likely that the offended person still goes to church, but remains isolated in their mind, which makes them a perfect candidate for deception.
“. . . because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold,” (Matthew 24, verse 12). The person is not seeking God, and not submitted to God’s authority, and likely they were already lawless before the offense. When offended, their love (agape) will grow cold (hatred).
The person who can offend you the deepest is the person closest to you—your spouse, best friend, or pastor. And it is very likely that the offended person has been genuinely mistreated. But Bevere points out that if you want to walk with God, you don’t have the right to be offended.
This past year I have seen offense and betrayal up close and personal 4 times, in both marriages and ministries. Twice I was a participant. Once I was the party offended. I had been so angry as a result of the offense that I was literally out of my mind. It is true that this person genuinely mistreated me, and it is also true that there was no actual sin involved. My wake-up call came when I couldn’t stop myself from raging at this person to the point of tears and fleeing from my presence. That’s when I realized that my anger was way out of proportion with the offense. I sought God and asked forgiveness from Him and from the person, both of whom were gracious to me, and there was a full reconciliation.
In the other incident, I had thought that only the other person was offended by something I had done. In fact, we were both offended and we both betrayed each other. I had been so deceived as to believe that I hadn’t been offended and that I hadn’t betrayed this person. But in prayerful examination, I now see the truth. The devil had been working both sides of this situation. In this case, I’m not sure how to be reconciled to this person, but now that I can see my part in it, there’s at least the hope of reconciliation.
Be warned! The deception is very powerful. Verse 13 of Matthew 24 continues: “But he who endures to the end shall be saved.” You can be right as right can be, and still go to hell because of your attitude. We’ve got to be alert and firm in our love for one another.
To see John Bevere’s full sermon follow this link: The Bait of Satan. God is good! He’s also very patient with me!