Most of us shudder in fear at the thought of what could happen to us if we stepped into a trap like this. If we were the unwitting victim who unfortunately got caught in this situation, we’d probably feel profound fear, pain, agony and a terrible sense of dread that someone or something is trying to kill us. If caught, more than likely we would do anything to try to free ourselves from this trap.
We think we would only see this apparatus used in some “B” movie scene produced in Hollywood, however, the painful truth of the matter is that we may be springing traps like this more often than we’d like, sometimes with great consequence, always preceded by powerlessness.
The word picture of the Greek word “Skandalon” is depicted in the picture of the trap above. You can probably hear our English word Scandalous in it. The Skandalon is the trigger of the trap on which the bait is placed and when touched by the victim, it springs and causes it to close, trapping the victim. But there is more. The Skandalon always denotes an enticement to conduct which could ruin the person in question (Zodhiates, 1996). The Apostle Paul knew about his personal Skandalon, describing its effect on him (man, how I relate!):
“So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Romans 7:21-24 (NIV)
The challenging truth is when we become dependent on chemicals or the practice of addictive behaviors, we are in essence “taking the bait” and subsequently springing the trap again and again and again, causing unnecessary hurt, harm and possibly destruction and devastation to ourselves and possibly to others in our lives.
I don’t know about you, but I get this. I know that when I have been dependent on mood-altering chemicals or mood-altering behaviors, I often planned on obtaining the euphoric feelings or the escape that comes with the high, but never planned on encountering and experiencing the danger, fright, and hopelessness that came with opening myself up to the dark spiritual world of the Enemy.
I thought I was slick enough to steal the bait (which for all intent and purpose was a rotting piece of flesh). “I won” is what my delusion told me. However the truth of the matter is what I really got was more hurt, pain, loneliness, shame and felt the despair Paul echoes in the scripture above. It took me a while to realize that the Enemy does not give, he takes, he steals, he kills and he destroys (John 10:10). When he sets traps like this for us, he’s not doing it to work on his veterinary skills; he’s doing it to take us out. I get this today.
As you can imagine, it could be very difficult to free yourself if caught in a revolving set of circumstances that seem alluring, seem tasty and promising, but end in more pain, hurt, entrapment, powerlessness, enslavement…..you get the picture.
So who can set me free from this misery and this miserable behavior that I keep signing up for, again, and again and again?
Paul provides the answer as he continues from the verse above:
“O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God–through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin. (But the good news is…) There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death” – Romans 7:24-8:2 (NKJV)
My God has helped me to see that there is another way to live beyond entrapment. He has helped me to see that addiction steals my life, but a life connected to Him offers freedom and hope and no more traps, no more self-harm, no more self-delusion. I now know Truth, and I know this truth, and it helps me to make choices that facilitate freedom (John 8:32). When faced with temptation, I remember, I have a choice. My God and my choice(s) help me to experience a release and freedom from the enslavement of addiction, while also providing to me enlightenment and a way out of the forest that is full of tempting but scandalous traps.
Today, I realize I have been saved for a purpose. No more Egypt; I don’t want to go back. Today, I have hope and a future for my life. As Chris Tomlin pronounces in today’s “Coffee Break,” I think I will follow Him.
“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” John 8:36 (NIV)