“…and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.” (2 Timothy 2:26)
I’m not sure how many of you know the heartbreaking story of Jaycee Lee Duggard. She was abducted at the age of 11 while walking home from school and disappeared for 18 years. While in captivity, she suffered numerous crimes that I can’t even bring myself to write about. She was rescued at the age of 29 and brought home to her family where she has been building a new life for the past couple of years.
One of the things that is most interesting to me about Jaycee’s story is that after a couple of years of being locked up, the people who abducted her allowed her to live freely with them. They gave her a new name, Allison, which she adopted as her own. Her new name allowed her to speak to people when she went out in public. She never tried to run away or let anyone know that she needed help.
Eighteen years after Jaycee had been kidnapped, she was questioned by investigators about the man who had abducted her. She told them that he was a great person who was good with kids. She had an opportunity to tell the police what had happened to her, but was caught in a psychological trap and did not reveal her true identity. I can’t wrap my brain around what she was thinking! I heard Jaycee mention in an interview that she secretly held onto a butterfly ring that she was wearing on the day she was kidnapped until the day she was rescued. It was clear that she remembered that she had a family at home that loved her, so why was she choosing to defend the man who committed so many violent, unspeakable crimes against her?
To all of us this story is sad, but to most of us it’s something to which we can’t really relate. It’s tragic, yes, but it has nothing to do with us.
The truth is that you and I may be in the same situation as Jaycee spiritually. We are the deeply loved children of God, who may be living as captives to sin and being brainwashed by Satan.
The fact is that while Satan subtly markets sin as innocent in the beginning, that sin quickly becomes your personal prison. It doesn’t matter what the sin is – whether it’s the pleasure that comes with committing a sexual sin, the temporary escape that comes with alcohol abuse, the satisfaction that comes with spreading vicious gossip, or (fill in the blank here with your sin of choice) – all sins offer only a short-term benefit. The temptation to fall into sin wouldn’t be attractive if it didn’t seem harmless.
In the beginning, we may realize that what we’re doing is wrong, but excuses are easy to find. We’re only human and can’t always be perfect; all our friends are doing it, and God has promised to forgive us either way, right? After a while, we don’t feel the need to justify our sin any longer.
Over time, we become slaves to sin unable to get away from it even if we want to. These sins eventually lead to our spiritual death. They make us useless Christians who may be saved themselves, but unable to fulfill the purpose that we have been called to as believers. Tragic.
“And remember, when you are being tempted, do not say, “God is tempting me.” God is never tempted to do wrong, and he never tempts anyone else. Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death.” (James 1:13-15)
Those lustful thoughts that seemed so enticing and harmless at the beginning lead to chasing relationships with anyone that gives us attention and blurring the lines that the Bible has clearly drawn for relationships which can lead to heartbreak. That is the story of so many young people who have entertained those lustful thoughts.
The alcohol that provided a momentary buzz and relief from pain can lead to the hellish prison of addiction, and everything that goes with it – accidents, debt, the loss of relationships – the addict becomes trapped in a world that gets smaller and smaller till he is alone with his addiction. That is the story of so many people who started out using alcohol recreationally.
And the brief enjoyment we get from putting others down, spreading gossip, and refusing to forgive? We know where that leads. Harboring hate and resentment in your heart is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. Bitterness and anger turn inward and destroy our own happiness and peace of mind, cutting us off from others and keeping us trapped in the prison of our own minds.
Sin may offer short-term pleasure but it offers no lasting joy or freedom. Only God can offer that. Satan is working relentlessly to trick us into allowing sin in our lives. Why? Because when we are free from the bondage of sin, then we become a formidable enemy of the devil. The worst part is that the devil is so sneaky; many times we don’t even realize that he has anything to do with the sins that we’re caught in.
When we fall into sin, we don’t hit God’s intended target for our lives – the best life He has planned for us. Not only that, but when we are not actively fulfilling the will of God for our lives, we ARE actively working for Satan and furthering his kingdom.
Just like Jaycee, we become so brainwashed by Satan that we stand up for the things that we know are untrue. We forget that God has set us free from the prison of sin that Satan has us believing that we’re trapped in, and even when we have a chance to ask for help, we don’t take advantage of it. Satan deceives us into preferring his terrible abuse instead of the wonderful love of God.
”He breaks the power of cancelled sin, He sets the prisoner free. His blood can make the foulest clean; His blood availed for me.” ~Charles Wesley
Do you prefer the abuse of Satan to the wonderful love of God? You may not even realize that you are being deceived right now. The very definition of being deceived is that you are unaware of the reality of what is happening to you. Are you in bondage today? Take a moment and shine a light deep into the secret areas of your life to see what sins may be lurking unnoticed, and allow God to break the power that those sins have over you. He already has won the victory over cancelled sin in your life, He has set you free; and should you choose to be set free, you will be free indeed.
“So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free.” (John 8:36)