An offense is an accusation.
Whether real or perceived, a complaint is necessary to form an offense. Therefore, offense is a judgment we make against another person’s name.
Essentially, as it appears in scripture, offense refers to one of two things: 1. a breach of the law or 2. a stumbling-block that leads to sin.
Because we have all breached God’s Law, we are all offenders. We chose to be fathered by a liar instead of our Creator. We committed an offense against God, but did He harbor resentment? Did He talk among the God-head about how untrustworthy we are?
With no promise of an exchange, He forgave our offense; laid his life down and paid our debt.
Though absolute, forgiveness came with a single caveat: Matthew 6:14&15, “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.”
Clinging to our right to be offended, we snap, “You don’t know the truth about the situation!”
But what is the truth?
There is probably no word more abused in the English language. We hear, “My truth…” “Your truth…” “His truth…” etc., but none of these represent “The truth!”
For the sake of this article we are using Truth in its purest form:
Truth is God’s perspective of a matter.
A Lie is Satan’s perspective.
There is no other perspective. To be offended, we must choose Satan’s perspective.
From our beginnings, we left God’s perspective to follow Satan’s. Offended with the truth, we followed the lie. This is original sin.
Though He could have demanded a pound of flesh, God chose mercy. The Way, the Truth, and the Life entered the courtroom and paid our penalty with His own blood.
God bankrupted heaven to persuade the Law that we were worthy of another chance.
When we fail to identify with our offender, we have lost sight of the truth. “How could they?” And “I can’t believe they said (did) so and so!” are the statements of a liar’s perspective.
Even the most egregious crimes are possible when we follow the Liar and all of us potential criminals.
The truth is that without His grace we could. We would. And we have…
Which brings me to the most common use of the word offense and that is the stumbling-block that comes from a person or situation that catches us off guard.
When we stumble over another person’s uncrucified flesh, we fall short of the truth. To harbor resentment is to believe a lie.
When I was in my late 30’s, I experienced a traumatic situation that almost crippled me spiritually. Self-pity was a daily battle. Every waking moment was plagued by the pain of my experience and tears flowed freely. One day, I asked Jesus to show me where He was when I endured this suffering. To my surprise, He walked in the door, smiled at me, and went to the one who was the source of my anguish. His arms encircled the tormented soul as they tucked their head into His shoulder and wept.
The most common form of offense is misunderstanding. Emotions are liars. They have been nurtured and trained by the Liar. Yet, we trust them, reacting from our flesh and not our spirit; from the lie and not the truth. Hence, we allow a breach in our Love, which causes us to breach God’s Law.
To be offended is to be an offender of the cross.
Every violation of Love is a violation of the Truth.
“We hate sin, but not the sinner,” my dad used to say. I have discovered that unless I hate the sin that thrives in me, I will hate the sinner that sins against me.
To believe that my perspective is greater than God’s is to accept the Liar and reject the Truth. That’s what our first parents did. Sin by omission.
The crux of the matter is that offense is on the rise in the American church. Interestingly, Jesus said that this would happen in the last days.
Matthew 24:10-12, “And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall grow cold.”
Offense has always been present. From our first infraction of the Law to this very day, offense has permeated the atmosphere of creation. Cain’s offense ended in murder. In Luke 1:17, Jesus said that “it is impossible but that offenses will come…” So, “How do you respond when offense comes?” The Bible says that if you hate your brother, you have committed murder, I John 3:5.
We have a lot of murderers in Christianity. Worse, I am among them.
The fact is that offense is thriving in the house of God. It is both hidden and flourishing in leaders and congregants, alike. We are failing our tests. It is impossible to grow in spiritual maturity or lead God’s people without facing the trial of offense and yet, how we respond determines our future.
Self-pity is the fiercest, vilest, and most destructive spirit in the demonic realm.
Religion, which is man’s attempt to worship God without being submitted to His voice, thrives on the fuel of offense. In other words, we build a fence of protection against the sin (offenses) of evil-doers, considering their breach to be greater than our own. Our “fence” determines what we believe and what we don’t believe; who we can associate with and who we must avoid. It predicts validation, establishes reputations and verifies or denies promotions. Tucked safely inside our religious attitudes, we believe the lie that I am good, and you are evil.
Religion is the business of exploiting sin. Love releases sinners from guilt.
Relying on the Holy Spirit to build a church is time-consuming and humbling. Hearing God’s voice and yielding to His perspective requires the intimacy of faith, patience, and the long-suffering of loving through disagreements.
When God’s perspective is silenced, offense fills the void and shapes church policy.
To be fair, we are a generation that has not been taught the truth. The spirit of religion has led to spiritual immaturity, which has led to the Lie that offense is not a very big sin. We shrug it off. It’s bad, but not THAT bad…
But let’s take a closer look.
According to Matthew 6, an “offended Christian” is an oxymoron and a spiritual impossibility. It is a contradiction in terms. One cannot be “like Christ” while nursing an offense.
We cannot be “filled with the Spirit” and “full of offense” at the same time.
Offense is an accusation; a judgment we make against another. To nurture an offense, we must refuse God’s perspective and embrace Satan’s.
Which means, offense requires a spiritual connection with the Accuser of the Brethren. How humbling it is to realize that we are born again and following the wrong voice. Maybe this is the reason we play the word game. “I’m not offended, I’m hurt.” “I’m not offended, I’m just disappointed in you.”
A.B. Simpson, in his writings on “The Holy Spirit” and “Power from on High” says, “Someone has said that it is half the battle of life to call things by their true names.”
Herein lies the problem: Changing the words silences the voice of conviction and opens the door to delusion, 2 Thessalonians 2:11.
Our defense reveals our offense, but our delusion prevents us from hearing our deception.
According to Matthew 24, nurturing offense leads to deception and deception is revealed through “cold love.”
I learned many years ago that Love is an action and not a feeling; a verb and not a noun. Without that revelation, my offense would have been greater than my ability to forgive the one who sinned against me. Worse, I would have remained forever blinded by my own “rightness.”
When we operate by feelings and not by faith, what begins as a lie, grows into a stronghold.
And we exchange God’s Love for cold love. It begins with our refusal to deal with the truth that an offense is Love under attack. When we fail to fight for Love, we pretend to love. We avoid our offender at all cost. If forced to see them, we “act” like a “Christian,” but refuse to heal the gap in our communion. We ignore Love’s command to go out of our way to restore what Satan has broken. We will not lay our life down or do whatever it takes to prove that we desire restoration with our brother.
This is cold love.
God’s Love is doing the hard thing. God’s Love is always the opposite of what we feel.
Love is an action that kills our pride and opens our heart to experience the impossible.
Love is embracing God’s perspective no matter how hard our emotions fight against it. Love is seeing our accusation against another as an offense to God. To walk in Love is to go to the one we have made a judgment against, humble ourselves, and die to our own conclusions.
As I tell my kids, “Beware of jumping to a conclusion. You might miss the other side.”
Love cannot slander because it has seen its own evil character.
Quoting Simpson again, “Self clothes itself in so many disguises that nothing but the piercing sword of the Holy Spirit and the Holy Scriptures can compel it to take its true place, and own its evil character.”
Without humility, we cannot receive God’s perspective. Without humility, we cannot Love.
Humility allows us to see a thing as God sees it. Consequently, without humility, we become the author of our own deception.
King Nebuchadnezzar’s life testifies that God is not a respecter of persons. Instead of kings, we have apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers and evangelists and we are held to a higher standard than them. Instead of Moses’s Law, we are held accountable to the Law of Love, but like the kings of old, the greater the responsibility, the weightier the accountability.
The wider the influence, the heavier the culpability. Without Love our task is impossible.
Again, from Simpson, “I would not like to have orphan children and widowed wives cry out against me to God. I would not like to have the little hand of wronged and innocent children pleading to heaven for my punishment… I would rather play with the forked lightning, or take in my hands living wires with their fiery current than speak a reckless word against any servant of Christ or idly repeat the slanderous darts which thousands of Christians are hurling on others, to the hurt of their own souls and bodies.”
Hence, the reason “offense must come.” Only the man or woman who has faced the fire of offense and refused to point the finger of accusation, only that person can fulfill the Law of Love and direct God’s people without crushing the least of these.
Only an unoffendable leader can lead us into revival.
Fear and pride are the guardians of an offended heart and grace the only remedy, but God gives grace to the humble, James 4:6.
We pray for revival; for an awakening in our nation, and it will come. When pride is exchanged for humility. When fear is replaced with faith. When we renounce the Lies we have accepted as truth and embrace God’s perspective. When the fence of offense falls, revival will come.
To be revived is to be awakened to the unrighteous judgments that thrive in our soul; to consider offense sin, again.
When the name, Christian, comes to mean examining our own heart and pulling down every stronghold, every lie, every deception and every delusion offense has created, we will see an awakening in the body of Christ.
Revival will begin where offense ends.