“In meekness, instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.” – 2 Timothy 2:25-26
The word “snare” conjures up images of something used to catch an unsuspecting victim, whether animal, fowl, or human. In the case of the first two, it’s usually a wire contraption that often utilizes a noose, which might not go too far afield in the case of the last category, as well. The word is found many times in the Bible and in most (if not all) of the places, it is used allegorically. For instance, it’s used to describe gods (Judg. 2:3); wives (1 Sam. 18:21); fearing a man instead of God (Prov. 29:25); the actions of an enemy (Psl. 140:5); lips (Prov. 18:7); and the temptation of riches (1 Tim. 6:9) to name just a few. But we can safely say, the motivating Person behind all life’s destructive snares is Satan.
Verse twenty-five of Second Timothy, chapter two gives us two indications of someone struggling within the clutches of the devil’s snare. First, this individual will make self-destructive decisions over and over. They take one step forward and two steps back. They’re like the man Solomon speaks of in Proverbs 19:19, who once delivered must be delivered again. And people say of them, “What is he or she thinking?” That’s just it; they’re not. Someone else is doing the thinking.
Second, these people may, and often do, know the truth, yet they refuse to “acknowledge” it. They consider the truth to be optional, not actionable. As we often say, you can talk till you’re blue in the face, but to no apparent avail. Which brings us to verse twenty-six.
As Paul told Timothy, they must “recover themselves.” And as daunting as this seems, it does hold out hope for these individuals and those who love them. This trap—the devil’s snare—can be sprung. But he or she must do it. It is the will that sets faith in motion, remembering that behind it all is God who brings us to repentance (v. 25). Until this point has been reached, little anyone else says will make much difference, no matter how true or well meaning.
Finally, lest you or I take this lightly, Paul points out that there is another will in play here—Satan’s. His will for all our lives will be to ensnare us within his evil noose. As I read the last nine words of the chapter, I shudder to think that there are those who find themselves slaves to that will. And I’m not a big enough to fool to think I’m incapable of being tricked into his snare. No one knows me like God knows me, but after Him, Satan knows me best. As the old Puritan, Thomas Brooks said, “Satan, like a fisher, baits his hook according to the appetite of the fish.” That’s why God says our relationship to him should be characterized by one word: resistance.
I say to us, one and all, “Beware of the snares!”