Stand Firm and Avoid Satan’s Traps!
“Stand firm against the machinations of the Devil.”—EPH. 6:11.
HOW WOULD YOU ANSWER?
How can a servant of Jehovah avoid being caught in the trap of materialism?
What can help a married Christian not to fall into the pit of adultery?
Why do you believe that it is beneficial to take a firm stand against materialism and sexual immorality?
1, 2. (a) Why does Satan not have compassion for the anointed and the “other sheep”? (b) What traps of Satan will be discussed in this article?
SATAN THE DEVIL has no compassion for humans, especially for those who serve Jehovah. In fact, Satan is waging war on the anointed remnant. (Rev. 12:17) Those stalwart Christians have spearheaded the modern-day Kingdom-preaching work and have exposed Satan as the ruler of this world. The Devil also has no love for the “other sheep,” who support the anointed and are in line for everlasting life—a prospect that Satan no longer has. (John 10:16) No wonder he is wrathful! Whether we have the heavenly hope or the earthly hope, Satan certainly has no interest in our welfare. His goal is to make us his victims.—1 Pet. 5:8.
2 To accomplish his aim, Satan has set various traps, or snares. Since he “has blinded the minds” of unbelievers, they do not accept the good news and cannot see these traps. However, the Devil also ensnares some who have accepted the Kingdom message. (2 Cor. 4:3, 4) The preceding article showed how we can avoid three of Satan’s traps: (1) uncontrolled speech, (2) fear and pressure, and (3) inordinate guilt. Let us now consider how we can stand firm against two other satanic traps or snares—materialism and temptation to commit adultery.
MATERIALISM—THE TRAP THAT CHOKES
3, 4. How might the anxieties of this system of things lead to materialism?
3 In one of his illustrations, Jesus mentioned seed sown among thorns. He pointed out that a person may hear the word, “but the anxiety of this system of things and the deceptive power of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful.” (Matt. 13:22) Yes, materialism is one snare used by our enemy Satan.
4 When combined, two factors choke the word. One factor is “the anxiety of this system of things.” In these “critical times hard to deal with,” there is much that could make you anxious. (2 Tim. 3:1) With the high cost of living and rising unemployment rates, you may find it difficult to make ends meet. You may also be anxious about the future and wonder, ‘Will I have enough income after I retire?’ Because of such anxiety, some have been led to pursue riches, thinking that money will guarantee security.
5. In what way can the “power of riches” be deceptive?
5 Jesus spoke of the other factor—“the deceptive power of riches.” That element combined with anxiety can choke the word. The Bible acknowledges that “money is for a protection.” (Eccl. 7:12) However, the pursuit of riches is not wise. Many have found that the more they struggle to acquire riches, the more materialism entraps them. Some have even become slaves to riches.—Matt. 6:24.
6, 7. (a) How might materialism prove to be a danger at one’s place of employment? (b) What concerns should a Christian consider when the possibility of overtime work is presented to him?
6 The desire for riches may begin innocently. For example, consider this scenario. Your employer approaches you and says: “I have good news! The company has won a huge contract. This will mean working overtime quite often for the next few months. But I can assure you that the pay will make it well worth your effort.” How would you react to such an offer? Of course, the need to provide materially for your family is a serious responsibility, but it is not the only responsibility you have. (1 Tim. 5:8) There are several other concerns you have to take into account. How much overtime will be involved? Will your secular work interfere with your spiritual activities, including congregation meetings and your Family Worship evening?
7 In weighing your decision, what would you consider to be foremost—how the overtime work would affect your bank account or how it might affect your spirituality? Would eagerness to make more money cause you to stop putting Kingdom interests first in life? Can you see how materialism would affect you if you were to neglect your own spiritual health and that of your family? If that is happening to you right now, how can you stand firm and avoid being choked by materialism?—Read 1 Timothy 6:9, 10.
8. Considering what Scriptural examples can help us to reappraise our lifestyle?
8 To avoid being strangled by materialism, periodically reappraise your lifestyle. Never would you want to be like Esau, who showed by his actions that he despised spiritual things! (Gen. 25:34; Heb. 12:16) And surely you should not be like the rich man who was invited to sell his belongings, give to the poor, and follow Jesus. Instead of doing so, the man “went away grieved, for he was holding many possessions.” (Matt. 19:21, 22) Ensnared by riches, that man lost out on a great privilege—that of being able to follow the greatest man who ever lived! Be careful not to lose out on the privilege of being a disciple of Jesus Christ.
9, 10. What would you say is the Scriptural view of material things?
9 To counteract undue worry about material things, heed Jesus’ admonition: “Never be anxious and say, ‘What are we to eat?’ or, ‘What are we to drink?’ or, ‘What are we to put on?’ For all these are the things the nations are eagerly pursuing. For your heavenly Father knows you need all these things.”—Matt. 6:31, 32; Luke 21:34, 35.
10 Rather than fall victim to the deceptive power of riches, strive to adopt the viewpoint of the Bible writer Agur, who stated: “Don’t let me be too poor or too rich. Give me just what I need.” (Prov. 30:8, Contemporary English Version) Clearly, Agur understood the protective value of money as well as the deceptive power of riches. Realize that the anxieties of this system and the deceptive power of riches can result in spiritual ruin. Undue worry about material things can consume your time, sap your energy, and leave you with little or no motivation to pursue Kingdom interests. Therefore, make it your resolve not to be caught in Satan’s trap of materialism!—Read Hebrews 13:5.
ADULTERY—A CLEVERLY CONCEALED PIT
11, 12. How might a Christian fall victim to adultery at his or her place of work?
11 Hunters who want to catch a strong animal may dig a pit on a path often traveled by the prey. The pit is usually camouflaged with a thin covering of sticks and soil. One of Satan’s most successful temptations resembles that type of trap. It is the sin of immorality. (Prov. 22:14; 23:27) A number of Christians have fallen into that pit by letting themselves get into situations in which compromise is all too easy. Some married Christians have succumbed to committing adultery after developing an improper romantic relationship.
12 An improper romantic relationship could develop at your place of employment. In fact, a secular study revealed that more than half of adulterous women and nearly 3 out of 4 adulterous men had illicit relations with a workmate. Does your secular work require that you associate with members of the opposite sex? If so, what is the nature of your relationship with them? Do you have boundaries in place that keep it professional and that do not allow it to become something more? For example, after repeated casual conversations with a male coworker, a Christian sister might make him her confidant, even telling him about her marital problems. In another situation, after becoming friendly with a female coworker, a Christian man might reason: “She values my opinion and really listens when I talk to her. And she appreciates me. I wish I got more of this kind of treatment at home!” Can you see how Christians in such situations could be vulnerable to committing adultery?
13. How could an improper romantic relationship develop within the congregation?
13 An improper romantic relationship could develop within the congregation. Consider this true-life example. Daniel and his wife, Sarah,* were regular pioneers. Daniel was also “a never-say-no elder,” as he puts it. He eagerly accepted every privilege that came his way. As part of his ministry, Daniel conducted five Bible studies with young men—three of whom got baptized. These newly baptized brothers needed considerable help. When Daniel was busy with his various theocratic assignments, Sarah often provided that help. Soon this pattern developed: Daniel’s former Bible students needed emotional support, and they received it from Sarah. She needed attention, and she got it from Daniel’s Bible students. A deadly trap had been set. “Months of my wife’s giving of herself drained her spiritually and emotionally,” says Daniel. “This, coupled with the fact that I had been neglecting her, led to a disastrous turn of events. My wife committed adultery with one of my former students. She had become spiritually weak right under my nose, and I was too concerned about all my privileges even to notice it.” How can you avoid such a tragedy?
14, 15. What factors can help married Christians to avoid the pit of adultery?
14 To avoid the pit of adultery, reflect on the meaning of marital commitment. Jesus said: “What God has yoked together let no man put apart.” (Matt. 19:6) Never think that your theocratic privileges are more important than your spouse. Moreover, be aware that frequently spending time away from your mate for nonessential activities may indicate a weakness in your marriage and can lead to temptation and possibly to serious sin.
15 If you are an elder, though, what about the flock? The apostle Peter wrote: “Shepherd the flock of God in your care, not under compulsion, but willingly; neither for love of dishonest gain, but eagerly.” (1 Pet. 5:2) Congregation members in your care certainly should not be ignored. However, you should not fulfill your role as a shepherd at the expense of your role as a husband. It would be pointless—even dangerous—to focus all your attention on feeding the congregation while your mate is “starving” at home. Daniel states, “There is much more to life than struggling to care for privileges to the detriment of your own family.”
16, 17. (a) What practical measures can married Christians take at the workplace to send a clear signal that they are not available romantically? (b) Give an example of published material that can help Christians to avoid adultery.
16 Much good counsel has appeared in the pages of The Watchtower and Awake! to help married Christians resist falling into the trap of adultery. For instance, The Watchtower of September 15, 2006, offered this advice: “In the workplace and elsewhere, beware of situations that might foster intimacy. For example, spending extra hours working closely with someone of the opposite sex can set the stage for temptation. As a married man or woman, you should make it clear by your speech and your demeanor that you are simply not available. As one who pursues godly devotion, you would certainly not want to invite undue attention by flirting or by being immodest in your dress and grooming. . . . Having photos of your marriage mate and children around the workplace will serve as a visual reminder to you and to others that you have priorities. Be determined never to encourage—or even tolerate—seductive overtures from another.”
17 The article entitled “Marital Fidelity—What Does It Really Mean?” in Awake! of April 2009 warned against sexual fantasies involving someone other than your marriage mate. The article indicated that engaging in sexual fantasies will increase the likelihood of your committing adultery. (Jas. 1:14, 15) If you are married, it would be wise for you and your spouse to review such information together from time to time. Marriage is an arrangement instituted by Jehovah himself, and it is sacred. Setting aside time to talk to your mate about your marriage is a fine way to show that you value sacred things.—Gen. 2:21-24.
18, 19. (a) What are the consequences of adultery? (b) Marital faithfulness results in what benefits?
18 If you find yourself tempted to develop an improper romantic relationship, meditate on the damaging consequences of fornication and adultery. (Prov. 7:22, 23; Gal. 6:7) Those who commit immorality displease Jehovah and hurt their spouse and themselves. (Read Malachi 2:13, 14.) In contrast, contemplate the benefits that come to those who maintain chaste conduct. Not only do they have the hope of living forever but they also enjoy the best life now, including a clean conscience.—Read Proverbs 3:1, 2.
19 The psalmist sang: “Abundant peace belongs to those loving your [God’s] law, and for them there is no stumbling block.” (Ps. 119:165) So love the truth, and “keep strict watch that how you walk is not as unwise but as wise persons” in these wicked times. (Eph. 5:15, 16) The paths we follow are rife with traps set by Satan to ensnare true worshippers. But we are well-equipped to protect ourselves. Jehovah has given us what we need to “stand firm” and “quench all the wicked one’s burning missiles”!—Eph. 6:11, 16.
Names have been changed.
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Materialism can choke a person spiritually. Do not let that happen to you
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Flirting—or responding to it—can lead to becoming a victim of adultery