As I look back over my life, I can clearly see the times when I was trapped in destructive behaviors. At one point, I was involved in overeating; at another, I abused various substances such as alcohol and drugs. There was also a period when I was trapped in a lifestyle of greed where I was trying to build my empire in this world, and lust (pornography and sexual impurity), as well as bitterness, unforgiveness and other damaging attitudes and behaviors.
My experience is not uncommon. People have struggled with captivity to ruinous behaviors, attitudes and activities since the fall of man in the Garden of Eden. And, of course, becoming a captive to these things can lead to anger, discouragement and/or overwhelming sadness and eventually hopelessness. Even seemingly good things can become a trap; things such as family, work, taking vacations, philanthropic or ministry work can all become traps and a source of bondage if overused or abused.
It’s important to understand that becoming trapped, or being taken captive to these and other things can happen to both believers and unbelievers. People with no faith have longings and needs that only God can satisfy; and this emptiness causes them to look anywhere and everywhere to find fullness, intimacy, or connection to something and to have meaning. Or to put it in another way, we are all born with hearts that are restless and seeking to find comfort in someone or something.
Christians, likewise, can become trapped when we turn from Christ to anything or anyone else. Notice the warning given in this passage of Scripture to Christian believers:
Galatians 6:1 (NIV) Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.
The word “caught” above can also be translated “overtaken”. We might picture a man on a beach fleeing from a tsunami wave, yet he is overtaken by it and dragged under the water. Sin is much like a tsunami wave and can overtake us quickly.
And the passage in Galatians 6:1-2 is written to Christian believers, so it’s clear that anyone can fall into a trap and become caught or overtaken. Scripture calls this “captivity” (2 Timothy 2:26) or “slavery” (John 8:34). These behaviors or attitudes can become life-dominating if we persist in them, and often it seems that there is no way out. Perhaps we’ve tried to stop, made decisions to work at the issue, maybe sought out help from other people, yet have discovered that we are still captive and possibly even worse off than before we started our efforts toward reform.
Question 1. Can you identify with the above description? Please share your thoughts: