Stand Firm and Avoid Satan’s Traps!
“Stand firm against the machinations of the Devil.”—EPHESIANS 6:11.
WHAT IS YOUR ANSWER?
How can a servant of Jehovah avoid being caught in the trap of materialism?
What can help a married Christian to avoid committing adultery?
What benefits do you think we will get if we never give in to materialism and sexual immorality?
1, 2. (a) Why does Satan hate the anointed and the “other sheep”? (b) What traps of Satan will we discuss in this article?
SATAN hates humans, especially those who serve Jehovah. In fact, Satan is fighting against the anointed ones who are still on the earth. (Revelation 12:17) Those Christians have courageously taken the lead in preaching and have shown people that Satan is the ruler of this world. The Devil also hates the “other sheep,” who support the anointed in their work and who hope to live forever. (John 10:16) Satan has lost the opportunity to live forever. That is why he is so angry. Whether we are of the anointed or of the other sheep, Satan is our enemy. He wants to make us his victims.—1 Peter 5:8.
2 To do that, Satan uses traps. He “has blinded the minds” of people so that they do not learn the good news and cannot see his traps. But the Devil also catches some who have accepted the good news of the Kingdom. (2 Corinthians 4:3, 4) The previous article showed how we can avoid three of Satan’s traps. They are: (1) uncontrolled speech, (2) giving in to fear and pressure, and (3) feeling too much guilt. Let us discuss how to avoid two other traps of Satan. They are materialism and the temptation to commit adultery.
MATERIALISM IS A TRAP THAT CAN CHOKE US
3, 4. How might the anxieties of this system of things get us caught in the trap of materialism?
3 In one of his illustrations, Jesus spoke about seed sown in between thorny plants. He explained that someone may hear the Kingdom message, “but the anxiety of this system of things and the deceptive power of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful.” (Matthew 13:22) Materialism is a trap that our enemy Satan uses.
4 There are two things that together can “choke the word.” One is “the anxiety of this system of things,” or the worries about making a living. In these “critical times hard to deal with,” there are many things to worry about. (2 Timothy 3:1) It can be difficult to pay for what you need because things are very expensive or because you do not have a job. You may also be worried about the future and ask yourself, ‘Will I have enough money to live on when I am too old to work?’ Some people have tried to get rich because they think that if they have a lot of money, they will always have what they need.
5. How can the “power of riches” deceive us?
5 The other thing Jesus spoke about is “the deceptive power of riches.” This, together with anxiety, can get us caught in the trap of materialism. The Bible says that “money is for a protection.” (Ecclesiastes 7:12) This means that money can help us to have the things we need. But it is not wise to try to become rich. Many people have learned that the harder they work to become rich, the more they get caught in the trap of materialism. Some even become slaves of their possessions.—Matthew 6:24.
6, 7. (a) What situation at your workplace could cause you to have the desire to become rich? (b) What should a Christian think about when he is asked to work overtime?
6 You may begin to have the desire to become rich without realizing it. For example, think about this situation. Your employer comes to you and says: “I have good news! The company just got a big job. This will mean that you may often have to work overtime for the next few months. But I promise that you will be paid a lot of money.” How would you feel about such an offer? It is important for you to provide for your family’s material needs, but that is not your only responsibility. (1 Timothy 5:8) There are some other things you also need to think about. How much overtime will you work? Will your job make it difficult for you to serve God and make you miss congregation meetings and family worship?
7 Think about what is most important to you. Is it the extra money, or is it your relationship with Jehovah? Will you stop putting Kingdom interests first in your life because you want to make more money? Can you see how materialism will affect you if you do not take care of the relationship that you and your family have with Jehovah? If you are in this situation, how can you avoid being choked by materialism?—Read 1 Timothy 6:9, 10.
8. What examples from the Bible can help us to examine the way we live?
8 If we do not want to be choked by materialism, we should regularly examine the way we live. We should never be like Esau, who despised Jehovah’s promises. (Genesis 25:34; Hebrews 12:16) Also, we should not be like the rich man who was asked by Jesus to sell everything he owned, to give the money to poor people, and to follow him. The man did not do this. Rather, because he had many possessions, he felt sad and went away. (Matthew 19:21, 22) That man’s possessions were like a trap that had caught him. He could have followed Jesus, the greatest man who ever lived! But he did not accept that great privilege. We should be careful that we do not lose the privilege of being disciples of Jesus Christ.
9, 10. From what the Bible says, how do you think we should view material things?
9 We need to listen to Jesus’ counsel if we do not want to be deceived by material things. He said: “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.”—Matthew 6:31, 32; Luke 21:34, 35.
10 If we do not want to be caught in the deceptive trap of riches, we have to think like the Bible writer Agur, who said: “Don’t let me be too poor or too rich. Give me just what I need.” (Proverbs 30:8, Contemporary English Version) Agur understood that he needed some money to live, but he also understood the deceptive power of riches. We should realize that the anxieties of this system and the deceptive power of riches can cause us to lose our relationship with Jehovah. If we worry too much about material things, we may not have the time, the energy, or the desire to put Kingdom interests first in our life. So we should be careful not to be caught in Satan’s trap of materialism!—Read Hebrews 13:5.
ADULTERY IS LIKE A HIDDEN PIT
11, 12. How could a Christian get caught in the trap of adultery at his or her workplace?
11 Hunters who want to catch a strong animal sometimes dig a pit, or hole, on a path where the animal often walks. They usually hide the pit by putting some sticks and dirt over it. One of Satan’s most successful temptations is like this type of trap. It is the sin of immorality. (Proverbs 22:14; 23:27) Some Christians have been caught in that trap because they have let themselves get into situations in which it was easy for them to commit immorality. Some married Christians have committed adultery after starting a romantic relationship with someone to whom they are not married.
12 An improper romantic relationship could start with someone at your workplace. More than half of the women and most of the men who committed adultery did so with a workmate. Do you have to work with people of the opposite sex? If you do, what kind of relationship do you have with them? Do you set limits so that your relationship will not become a romantic relationship? For example, maybe a sister often talks to a man who works with her. Maybe he becomes such a trusted and close friend that she tells him about the problems in her marriage. Or a brother makes friends with a woman who works with him. He may think: “She likes my opinions and listens to me when I talk to her. And she respects me. I wish my wife treated me like that!” Can you see how these Christians could be in danger of committing adultery?
13. How could an improper romantic relationship start with someone in the congregation?
13 An improper romantic relationship could also start with someone in the congregation. Here is what really happened to one couple. Daniel and his wife, Sarah, were regular pioneers. * (See footnote.) Daniel says that he was also an elder who accepted every assignment he was given in the congregation. He conducted Bible studies with five young men, and three of them got baptized. These newly baptized brothers needed a lot of emotional help. Because Daniel was so busy in the congregation, Sarah often gave them the help they needed. But Sarah also needed attention, and she got it from Daniel’s Bible students. That situation became like a dangerous trap. Daniel says: ‘Month after month my wife had been using all her energy to help others, so she needed spiritual and emotional support. During this time I had not been caring for her. These circumstances led to a disaster. My wife committed adultery with one of the young men with whom I had studied. I was so busy that I did not notice that her relationship with Jehovah had become weak.’ How can you avoid such a disaster?
14, 15. What can help married Christians to avoid adultery?
14 To avoid adultery, you need to think deeply about what it means to be loyal to your marriage mate. Jesus said: “What God has yoked together let no man put apart.” (Matthew 19:6) You should never think that your work in the congregation is more important than your marriage mate. If you are away from your mate for unnecessary reasons, your marriage may become weak. You or your mate could be tempted to commit adultery.
15 If you are an elder, you should care for the congregation. The apostle Peter said: “Shepherd the flock of God in your care, not under compulsion, but willingly; neither for love of dishonest gain, but eagerly.” (1 Peter 5:2) Do not ignore the members of the congregation. But you should not work so hard to be a good elder that you cannot be a good husband. It does not make sense to help the brothers and sisters in the congregation and neglect your wife at home. That would put your marriage in danger. Daniel (mentioned earlier) says, ‘You should never be so busy caring for responsibilities that you neglect your own family.’
16, 17. (a) What can married Christians do at work to make sure that everybody knows that they are not available for a romantic relationship? (b) Give examples of articles in our magazines that can help Christians to avoid adultery.
16 The Watchtower and Awake! magazines give much good counsel to help married Christians to avoid adultery. The Watchtower of September 15, 2006, warned against situations at work or other places that can cause you to draw close emotionally to someone who is not your marriage mate. For example, if you work overtime with someone of the opposite sex, you could be tempted to start an improper romantic relationship with him or her. If you are married, you should make it clear by what you say and do that you are not available for a romantic relationship. Never try to get attention by flirting or by trying to make people look at you because of the clothes you wear or the way you look. Have photos of your marriage mate and children at your workplace. This will remind you and others that your family is very important to you. Never encourage anyone who tries to give you any kind of improper attention. You should not even allow it.
17 The article “Marital Fidelity—What Does It Really Mean?” in Awake! of April 2009 warned against having sexual thoughts about anyone who is not your husband or wife. The article also mentioned that if you have these sexual thoughts, you will be more likely to commit adultery. (James 1:14, 15) If you are married, it would be wise for you and your mate to read articles about this subject. Jehovah is the Creator of marriage, and marriage is holy. Make sure that you and your mate have time to talk about your marriage. This will show that things that are holy to God are important to you.—Genesis 2:21-24.
18, 19. (a) What damage does adultery cause? (b) What benefits are there for being faithful to your marriage mate?
18 If you are tempted to start an improper romantic relationship, think about the damage caused by fornication and adultery. (Proverbs 7:22, 23; Galatians 6:7) People who commit immorality do not please Jehovah. They hurt their marriage mate and themselves. (Read Malachi 2:13, 14.) Instead, think about the benefits you will get if you keep your conduct chaste, or clean. You have the hope of living forever, and you also enjoy the best life now, including a clean conscience.—Read Proverbs 3:1, 2.
19 The psalmist said that people who love and obey God’s law will have abundant peace and no trap will catch them. (Psalm 119:165) So love the truth, and “keep strict watch that how you walk is not as unwise but as wise persons” during these wicked last days. (Ephesians 5:15, 16) Today, Satan uses many traps to catch true worshippers of God. But Jehovah has given us everything we need to “stand firm” and protect ourselves so that we will never be caught in Satan’s traps.—Ephesians 6:11, 16.
^ par. 13 Names have been changed.
SOME EXPRESSIONS EXPLAINED
Materialism: The attitude of someone who thinks that money is more important than his relationship with Jehovah
Adultery: A married person who commits sexual immorality with someone that he or she is not married to commits adultery
[Blurb on page 22]
Some who want to be rich become slaves of their possessions
[Blurb on page 23]
To avoid being choked by materialism, we should examine the way we live
[Blurb on page 26]
Make it clear that you are not interested in having an improper romantic relationship
[Blurb on page 26]
Jehovah has given us everything we need to protect ourselves from Satan’s traps
[Picture on page 23]
Do not let materialism choke you and cause you to damage your relationship with Jehovah
[Picture on page 25]
If you flirt or allow someone to flirt with you, it can cause you to commit adultery