“Escape from the snare of the Devil.”—2 TIM. 2:26.
SONG 36 We Guard Our Hearts
1. Why can we compare Satan to a hunter?
A HUNTER has but one goal—that of capturing or killing his prey. He may use a variety of snares or traps, even as noted by one of Job’s false comforters. (Job 18:8-10) How might a hunter lure an animal into his snare? He studies the animal. Where does it go? What is it interested in? What will catch it by surprise? Satan is like that hunter. He studies us. He notices where we go and what we are interested in. Then he sets a snare that he hopes will catch us unawares. Still, the Bible assures us that if we are caught, we may be able to escape. It also teaches us how to avoid those snares altogether.
2. What are two of Satan’s most effective snares?
2 Two of Satan’s most effective snares are pride and greed. * For thousands of years, Satan has successfully used these undesirable traits. He is like a birdcatcher who lures his prey into a trap or who ensnares it in a net. (Ps. 91:3) But we do not have to be caught by Satan. Why not? Because Jehovah has revealed to us the tactics that Satan uses.—2 Cor. 2:11.
3. Why has Jehovah included certain examples in the Bible?
3 One of the ways in which Jehovah warns us about pride and greed is by encouraging us to learn from real-life experiences. Note in the examples we will consider that Satan was able to ensnare even mature servants of Jehovah. Does this mean that we are doomed to fail? Not at all. Jehovah included these examples in the Bible as “a warning to us.” (1 Cor. 10:11) He knows that we can learn from warning examples and thus avoid or escape from the Devil’s snares.
THE SNARE OF PRIDE
4. To what will pride lead?
4 Satan wants us to develop an unbalanced sense of pride. He knows that if we allow improper pride to dominate us, we will become like him and lose out on gaining everlasting life. (Prov. 16:18) Accordingly, the apostle Paul warned that a person might “get puffed up with pride and fall into the judgment passed on the Devil.” (1 Tim. 3:6, 7) That could happen to any one of us, whether we are new in the truth or we have been serving Jehovah for many years.
5 Pride is a form of selfishness. Satan tries to get us to be selfish, to focus more on ourselves than on Jehovah, especially when we face a challenge. For example, have you been falsely accused? Or have you been treated unjustly? Satan would love to see you blame Jehovah or your brothers. And the Devil wants you to think that the only remedy is to do things your own way rather than to follow the guidance Jehovah gives you in his Word.—Read Ecclesiastes 7:16, 20.
6. What can you learn from the experience of a sister in the Netherlands?
6 Consider the experience of a sister in the Netherlands who became irritated by the imperfections of others. She decided that she could not tolerate the situation anymore. “I felt very lonely and unable to change my feelings,” she says. “I told my husband that we had to move to a different congregation.” Then she watched the March 2016 JW Broadcasting® program. That program gave some suggestions on how to deal with the imperfections of others. The sister relates: “I saw that I had to look honestly and humbly at my own mistakes rather than try to change the brothers and sisters in the congregation. The program helped me to focus on Jehovah and his sovereignty.” Do you see the point? When you face a trial, stay focused on Jehovah. Beg him to help you look at others from his perspective. Your heavenly Father sees their mistakes; yet, he is willing to forgive them. He wants you to do the same.—1 John 4:20.
7. What happened to King Uzziah?
7 Pride led King Uzziah of Judah to resist counsel and to act presumptuously. Uzziah was a very capable man. He was successful in military campaigns, in construction projects, and in agricultural developments. “The true God made him prosper.” (2 Chron. 26:3-7, 10) “However, as soon as he was strong, his heart became haughty to his own ruin,” the Bible says. Jehovah had earlier commanded that only the priests were allowed to offer incense at the temple. But King Uzziah presumptuously went into the temple to offer incense. Jehovah was not pleased and struck that proud man with leprosy. Uzziah remained a leper for the rest of his life.—2 Chron. 26:16-21.
8. In line with 1 Corinthians 4:6, 7, how can we avoid becoming proud?
8 Could pride lead us into a snare like the one that caught Uzziah? Consider the example of José. He was a very successful businessman who served as a respected congregation elder. He gave talks at assemblies and conventions, and circuit overseers consulted him for advice. “But I trusted in my own ability and in my experience,” he admits. “I had pushed Jehovah away. I thought that I was strong, so I didn’t listen to Jehovah’s warnings and counsel.” José committed a serious sin and was disfellowshipped. Several years ago, he was reinstated. He now says: “Jehovah has taught me that the important thing is, not having a title, but doing what he asks of us.” Let us remember that any talents we have and any privileges we receive in the congregation are from Jehovah. (Read 1 Corinthians 4:6, 7.) If we are proud, Jehovah will not use us.
THE SNARE OF GREED
9. What did greed cause both Satan and Eve to do?
9 When we think of greed, Satan the Devil likely comes to mind. As one of Jehovah’s angels, Satan must have had many fine privileges. But he wanted more. He wanted the worship that only Jehovah rightly deserves. Satan wants us to become like him, so he tries to make us feel discontented with what we have. That sort of effort started when he approached Eve. Jehovah had lovingly provided Eve and her husband with an abundance of satisfying food to eat—“from every tree of the garden” except one. (Gen. 2:16) Still, Satan deceived Eve into thinking that she needed to eat from the one tree that was forbidden. Eve failed to appreciate what she had; she wanted more. We know what that led to. Eve gave in to sin and eventually died.—Gen. 3:6, 19.
10. How did greed become a snare for King David?
10 Greed led King David to forget what Jehovah had given him, including wealth, prominence, and victory over many of his enemies. David gratefully acknowledged that God’s gifts were “too numerous to recount!” (Ps. 40:5) But at one point, David forgot what Jehovah had given him. He was no longer content; he wanted more. Although David had several wives, he let an improper desire for another man’s wife develop in his heart. The woman was Bath-sheba, and her husband was Uriah the Hittite. David selfishly had sexual relations with Bath-sheba, and she became pregnant. As if the adultery were not bad enough, David arranged for Uriah to be killed! (2 Sam. 11:2-15) What was David thinking? Did he imagine that Jehovah could not see? That once faithful servant of Jehovah gave in to selfish greed and paid dearly for it. Happily, though, in time David admitted his error and repented. How thankful he was to have Jehovah’s favor again!—2 Sam. 12:7-13.
11. According to Ephesians 5:3, 4, what can help us to fight greed?
11 What do we learn from the example of David? We learn that we can fight greed if we remain thankful for all that Jehovah has given us. (Read Ephesians 5:3, 4.) We must be content with what we have. New Bible students are encouraged to think of one specific blessing and to thank Jehovah for it. If a person does that every day for a week, it will mean that he has prayed about seven different topics. (1 Thess. 5:18) Do you do something similar? If you meditate on all that Jehovah has done for you, it will help you to be thankful. And when you are thankful, you become content. When you are content, greed loses its grip on you.
12. What did greed lead Judas Iscariot to do?
12 Greed led Judas Iscariot to become a despicable traitor. He did not start out that way though. (Luke 6:13, 16) Jesus chose him as an apostle. Judas was evidently capable and dependable, for he was in charge of the money box. Jesus and the apostles used those funds to care for their expenses in the preaching activity. In a sense, they were like donations to the worldwide work today. But at some point, Judas began to steal, despite having heard Jesus’ repeated warnings about greed. (Mark 7:22, 23; Luke 11:39; 12:15) Judas ignored those warnings.
13. When did Judas’ greed become evident?
13 Judas’ greed became evident during an incident that happened not long before Jesus was put to death. Jesus and his disciples, including Mary and her sister, Martha, were guests of Simon the leper. During the meal, Mary got up and poured on Jesus’ head perfumed oil that cost a lot of money. Judas and the other disciples got very upset. The other disciples may have felt that the money could be better used in the ministry. But Judas’ motive was different. He “was a thief,” and he wanted to steal money from the box. Later, greed moved Judas to betray Jesus for the price of a slave.—John 12:2-6; Matt. 26:6-16; Luke 22:3-6.
14. How did one couple apply the lesson found at Luke 16:13?
14 Jesus reminded his followers of this basic truth: “You cannot be slaves to God and to Riches.” (Read Luke 16:13.) That is still true. Consider how one couple in Romania allowed Jesus’ words to influence them. They were offered a temporary job in a more prosperous country. “We had a large bank loan to repay, so at first we thought that this job was a blessing from Jehovah,” they admit. However, there was a catch. The job would interfere with their service to Jehovah. After reading the article “Maintain Loyalty With a Unified Heart” in The Watchtower of August 15, 2008, they made their decision. They relate: “If earning more money was our motive for working in another country, we would be putting our relationship with Jehovah in second place. We were convinced that our spirituality would suffer.” So they declined the offer. What happened? The husband found a job in his home country that met their needs. The wife says: “Jehovah’s hand is never short.” This couple are happy they made Jehovah their Master rather than money.
AVOID SATAN’S SNARES
15. Why can we be sure that it is possible to escape from Satan’s snares?
15 What if we discover that we have given in to pride or greed? We can escape! Paul said that those who “have been caught alive by” the Devil can still escape from the snare. (2 Tim. 2:26) After all, David listened to Nathan’s reproof, repented of his greed, and repaired his friendship with Jehovah. Never forget, Jehovah is stronger than Satan. So if we accept Jehovah’s help, we can escape from any snare or trap that the Devil has set.
16. What will help us to avoid Satan’s snares?
16 Of course, rather than have to escape from Satan’s snares or traps, we should avoid them altogether. We can do so only with God’s help. But we must not be complacent! Even longtime servants of Jehovah have become proud or greedy. So beg Jehovah daily to help you recognize if those ugly qualities have begun to influence your thinking and actions. (Ps. 139:23, 24) Never allow them to get a grip on you!
17. What will soon happen to our adversary, the Devil?
17 For thousands of years, Satan has been the hunter. But soon he will be bound and eventually destroyed. (Rev. 20:1-3, 10) We long for that day. Until then, stay alert to Satan’s snares. Work hard to prevent pride or greed from dominating you. Be determined to “oppose the Devil, and he will flee from you.”—Jas. 4:7.
SONG 127 The Sort of Person I Should Be
^ par. 5 Satan is like a skilled hunter. He tries to trap us, no matter how long we have been serving Jehovah. In this article, we will learn how Satan tries to use pride and greed to destroy our relationship with God. We will also learn from the examples of some who have been trapped by pride and greed, and we will see how we can avoid those snares.
^ par. 2 EXPRESSIONS EXPLAINED: This article focuses on improper pride, the feeling that one person is better than another, and on greed, the excessive desire to have more money, power, sex, or other such things.
^ par. 53 PICTURE DESCRIPTION: A brother pridefully rejects wise direction. A sister who has many things is drawn to acquiring even more.
^ par. 55 PICTURE DESCRIPTION: Pride affected a spirit son of God and King Uzziah. Greed was behind Eve’s eating from the forbidden tree, David’s committing adultery with Bath-sheba, and Judas’ stealing money.