Confronting the "Spirit of Offense"
by Rev. Bradford Crook
"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 of iniquity will abound, the love of many will wax cold." Matthew 24: 10-11
"The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it? I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings." Jeremiah 17: 9-10
"And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but to men of the flesh, as to 'babes" in Christ. I gave you milk to drink, not solid food for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able, for you still are fleshly, for since there is jealousy and strife among you are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men? For when one says, "I am of Paul", and another, "I am of Apollo", are you not mere men." 1 Corinthians 3: 1-4
Church, it is time to get real! It is the last hour, and this is not a time to be bickering, and quarreling and dividing. There seems to be a more potent form of spiritual disease that has hit the Church…. SARS (Spiritual Apathy, Rebellion and Self-serving). As a result, many are being sidelined with some variation of this infection. If the devil can't stop us on one front, he will attack another. There is nothing new in the war of darkness, just a rehash of the same old tricks - and we keep falling for them.
All around are casualties of the war. Many are out of the battle because of wounds, while others have quit fighting because of apathy. Yet, it is quite clear that the end of all things is close at hand. The headlines daily speak right out of the Scriptures, and yet many are stumbling around focused on the wrong enemy. The devil has convinced multitudes that we are the enemy, and so we are turning on ourselves, instead of recognizing that satan is the source of the problem… not the church.
Jesus spoke of the fact that many would stumble because of offense. When we take on an offense, it causes a wound that can kill you, if not dealt with. You can take on an offense by many ways. You can pick up someone else's offense, and take it on yourself -my brother's offended, so I am. Your spiritual pride can kick in, and you will believe that, "you're hearing from God" but someone else isn't. And, so, how much better are you! Or, the big one… unmet expectations…. Meaning your expectation does not line up with the reality of the moment. "I've got a vision, and it's not being fulfilled to my expectation." These expectations usually spring from "misplaced" idealism, and not from practical reality.
Matthew 24: 10 tells us what happens when these offenses take root: Betrayal - Hatred - Cold Love.
Betrayal - Most people don't understand the reality of betrayal. Judas betrayed Jesus because of unrealized expectations. Judas had an agenda. He knew that Jesus was the Messiah… but because of his political ambitions, things where not going the way it pleased him. Jesus was not "taking His rightful position", so Judas put Jesus into the hands of the religious leaders, to "cause Him" to reveal His power and "take charge". Judas kissed Jesus on the cheek, as if to say… "I really love you, and I'm doing this for your sake." Of course, it backfired on Judas.
Other types of betrayal come, again from unrealized expectations. Jude 11 speaks of the last days when men will fall into the same snare as Cain and Korah. These men let spiritual jealousy and pride get into their hearts. Cain killed his brother when Cain's sacrifice did not receive the same acceptance of Abel's. Instead of seeing what worked, and changing, pride kept Cain bound in offense. Korah, on the other hand, caused a rebellion to take place, when his unrealized expectations fell on Moses, who was God's appointed leader. Korah had his own vision on how "things" should be done, and so Korah's attitude was… Moses, "who appointed you to be in charge"?
Betrayal is a kind of divorce…. "I love you, but can't live with you." "I am going to do my thing, in spite of the cost of your thing!" It happens in marriage, in the work place, and most certainly… in the church. It is time to stop this nonsense.
Hatred - Once an offense comes in, it can grow into bitterness and unforgiveness. These spirits are deadly and need to be corrected, or they will surely take you out. Hatred is the opposite of LOVE… it is not soil in which love can prosper. Hatred will cause many to expose weakness in others as opposed to "covering"… which is the priestly act of love. 1 John 2: 9-10 says, "The one who says he is in the light and yet hates his brother, is in the darkness until now. The one who loves his brother abides in the light and there is NO cause for stumbling in him." "Love covers a multitude of sins." 1 Peter 4: 8 And, so when offenses cause hatred to rise, you're not going to cover sin… or weakness, but expose it.
As Christians, we are not perfected. All of us still fall very short of "glory". Some may even do some very stupid things, as did many in the Bible. David murdered and stole another's wife. Thank the Lord Nathan didn't get "offended", but waited upon God, in prayer in order to 'gently' restore David. So, when we see someone in the Body fall, even hard, our job is to bring healing and restoration. All sins are covered by Jesus, but some will become self-serving, and allow that sin to bring on hatred. That's why we see Christians suing one another, and bringing all manner of charges in the courts against each other. Many think they are doing that for "God". We want to exact "punishment" for God. Perhaps if the Lord treated YOU that way, YOU would have another opinion.
Cold Love - If you have taken on an offense, then your love will wax cold. Suddenly, that same person, or church you were so passionate about, now seems distant. You once loved and respected that person, pastor, or church, but now you really don't care anymore. One sure sign is that your own spiritual life may seem "cold and lifeless". You are not really "comfortable" around that person, or place, and you begin to see more of their "faults". When your love was "hot", those same faults didn't seem to matter. You didn't even notice them. Now they are "huge". You can't take your eyes off of them. You might even think, "How could they be so blind to this problem?" The reality is the "real problem" is YOU!
Jesus said, "Don't look at the speck in your bother's eye, until you take the plank out or your own eye." Matthew 7: 3 If you are having a problem "with another", don't ask Jesus to fix him or her, ask God to fix you. We're supposed to be dead… and so dead people don't "get upset" or take on offenses. So, if your love is cold… if your spiritual life is "lifeless" … it's not someone else's fault. Examine your own heart, and where you have unmet expectations of other people.
It appears that it was "offense" that caused many of Jesus' disciples to stop following Him in John 6: 66. They had an expectation of Messiah, and Jesus didn't measure up. When He spoke truth, in spite of all the other signs, they got offended and left. Sound familiar, Church? The same is happening today. What is happening is causing division, carnality, pride, legalism and confusion to splinter the Body of Christ, rendering us ineffective.
The "great falling away" may not come from false doctrine, as much as a spirit of offense within the Body of Christ. Once that spirit enters, the person "infected" will lose discernment, and be blinded by "self-centered" motivation, instead of Biblical truth. Many have already been offended and allowed this infection to spread to others. But, Jesus said, "Don't cause another to stumble"…. Your actions may affect many others… thus causing your "offense" to spread. And, so, others will stumble because of what you did or said, or the way you acted.
Proverbs 18: 19 says, "A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city; and their contentions like bars of a castle." If this article is hitting hard, than you have to look at your own heart. "A house divided against itself can't stand." Matthew 12: 25 And so, how is the Lord's house, his Church, to stand with so much offense, division and contention within the ranks? We don't have time to run from house to house looking for someone to "soothe our wounds" and agree with our discontentment. It is time to grow up and be mature! This stuff is killing our church, our marriages, our families and our lives. Get reconciled. Quit looking to find fault and look for ways to cover and to serve one another. That's what Jesus did… Can we do no less!
About the author: Rev. Error! Bookmark not defined. is the publisher of The Christian Life-Times, a monthly Christian newspaper distributed on Long Island, NY. He is also the Sr. Pastor of Kingdom Harvest Ministries of LI, in Selden, NY. Comments are welcome. Pastor Crook can be reached at: email@example.com