“Now whom you forgive anything, I also forgive. For if indeed I have forgiven anything, I have forgiven that one for your sakes in the presence of Christ, lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices” (2 Corinthians 2:9-11).
How do you view the different challenges or opportunities that come before you? Do you view them from strictly a physical point of view or is there a spiritual aspect to consider? In other words, could this challenge or opportunity before you be a device Satan is using to entrap you or lead you astray?
In the Scriptures we are told that Satan is working against us. Peter wrote, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8). Before Peter had denied the Lord, Jesus warned him to be aware that Satan was at work against him, “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat” (Luke 22:31). Peter had succumbed to that temptation partly because he was ignorant of Satan’s devices.
As the opening passage above indicates, when the apostle Paul wrote his second epistle to the church at Corinth, he speaks that the church should be willing to forgive a particular person to whom he makes reference, “lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices” (2 Corinthians 2:11). What was the situation and who was the person whom they were to forgive?
In his first letter to the Corinthian church Paul speaks of a young man who was a part of the church at Corinth who was having sexual relations with his father’s wife (1 Corinthians 5:1-2). The church had not done anything about this ungodly situation so Paul had urged them to withdraw their fellowship from this young man and “deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus” (1 Corinthians 5:4-5, 11). They were to stop welcoming this young man into their midst as long as he was determined to engage in this sin.
What was the result of the church of Corinth following these instructions from Paul? From his second letter to the church, it appears this young man had repented of his sin with his father’s wife. However the church had failed to forgive the young man and welcome him back into their fellowship. Paul wrote, “This punishment which was inflicted by the majority is sufficient for such a man, so that, on the contrary, you ought rather to forgive and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one be swallowed up with too much sorrow. Therefore I urge you to reaffirm your love to him” (2 Corinthians 2:6-8).
Paul was concerned that because the church had failed to forgive this man, welcome him back into their fellowship, and reaffirm their love for him, Satan would use this as a “device” or “means” to harm not only the young man who had repented, but the church at Corinth as a whole. The church needed to be “aware”, not ignorant, of what the devil was trying to do regarding this situation!
Am I “aware” or am I “ignorant” of what Satan is trying to do to me in my life? Some opportunities such as a higher paying job may initially appear good, but on closer examination may actually be Satan’s devices to lead me astray because the position may require longer hours or more time away from family. Like Paul, I need to be “aware” not “ignorant of Satan’s efforts against me and those around me in my life. I need to strive to see things not only from a physical point of view, but also from a spiritual point of view. Today, I will not be ignorant of Satan’s devices!
“ ‘Be angry, and do not sin’: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil” (Ephesians 4:26-27).