2 Timothy 2:26 – “and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.” NASB

We begin today’s discussion with the question we ended the last devotional with, “How can the devil take anyone captive, especially a Christian against his will?”  We noted that in 2 Timothy 2:26 it is made clear that is a possibility but how?

If you look closely you will see the connection between strife, disharmony and the devil’s ability to take people captive.  If you will take note, you will also see that the absence of strife is connected to the ability to remain free from the devil’s bondage.  Sadly, too often, people in Church excuse their disharmony and strive with others insisting that there was no real harm done only disagreement.  However, we find here that the devil gains a foothold and is enabled to come in and operate at his will and against ours.  He affects us and those we are in disharmony with and thereby the church and the world.  It is no wonder that we are instructed to STOP THE STRIFE!

This is powerfully amplified in James 3:14-16 – “But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. 15 This wisdom is not that which comes down from above but is earthly, natural, demonic. 16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing.” 

In this passage we discover that if we have bitter envying and strife, we have confusion and every evil work.  A reality that cannot be overlooked is that ‘strife’ opens the door to ‘confusion’ and every evil work.  Strife allows the devil to come in where he has no authority and operate freely.  It is essentially his welcome mat.  It gives him an opportunity and he is always opportunistic.  Therefore, the key is to STOP STIFE and STOP THE DEVIL!

In James Chapters 3-5 we have detailed instructions and revelations on how to keep strife at a minimum or eradicate it completely.  Two pertinent facts leap off the page for me:  It is always a matter of the heart and it is always a matter of our will.

James 3 deals with the Tongue.  The description of the tongue being an ignition switch for fires of all kinds is apropos and germane.  The tongue can either bless or curse, bring peace or discord.  The choice of how we use it is up to us.  We can through the work of the Holy Spirit TAME THE TONGUE!  James 4 informs us how and why Strife comes and issues the exhortation to ‘submit’ to God and ‘resist’ the devil.  He adds, that we are not to speak evil one to another.

What is Strife?  I ask that you take a brief journey through Proverbs for a clear understanding of what it is, how it comes, and how to prevent it.

Proverbs 15:18 – “A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but the slow to anger pacifies contention.”

Proverbs 16:28 – “A perverse man spreads strife, and a slanderer separates intimate friends.” 

Proverbs 17:1 – “Better is a dry morsel and quietness with it than a house full of feasting with strife.” 

Proverbs 20:3 – “Keeping away from strife is an honor for a man, but any fool will quarrel.” 

Proverbs 22:10 – “Drive out the scoffer, and contention will go out, Even strife and dishonor will cease.” 

Proverbs 26:17, 20-21 – “Like one who takes a dog by the ears is he who passes by and meddles with strife not belonging to him… 20 For lack of wood the fire goes out, and where there is no whisperer, contention quiets down. 21 Like charcoal to hot embers and wood to fire, so is a contentious man to kindle strife.”

Proverbs 28:25 – “An arrogant man stirs up strife, but he who trusts in the LORD will prosper.”

Proverbs 29:22 – “An angry man stirs up strife, and a hot-tempered man abounds in transgression.” 

Proverbs 30:33 – “For the churning of milk produces butter, and pressing the nose brings forth blood; so, the churning of anger produces strife.”

If you will read Philippians 2:1-5 you will discover a powerful way to keep strife at bay. My point is that we have the choice of whether we allow strife to enter and abide.  Therefore, we have the choice of whether we become captives of the devil. 

Let me conclude in this manner, if the presence of strife, envying and self-seeking produce confusion and every evil work then the converse is also true.  If we eliminate those things from our midst and lives, we bring harmony, love, peace, and a God-centered environment and the devil loses his base of operation.  No wonder Paul contended in Romans 13:13-14 that we are to make no provisions for the flesh.

We need to make a conscious decision to resist strife, envy, and disharmony.  If it comes, we must immediately repent and stop it on the spot.  We are God’s instruments and we have His commission, His love, and His Spirit.  We can Stop the Devil, so Let’s Do It!

God bless you as you enjoy this day!

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