Satanic Schemes in Forgiveness and Christlikeness

You and I have three main foes if we’re children of God. We have three enemies- the world, the devil, and the flesh. 1) There is the world. It’s fallen. Its influences on us are not inherently upward. They’re downward. Might be the gentle slope of mere over-indulgence or selfish laziness. Might be the grossest of evils. But it’s all on the spectrum line of “carnality” or “devilishness” if one does not love God and seek from love to do that which is right in his sight and light. “The world” is all of what comes to us from outside of us. 2) Satanic (or demonic) forces. There is an actual group of now defunct former worshipper angels. Their nature is twisted out of conformity. If possible, they will take you down with them. It’s not in their nature to serve God or to build up and it never will be. These beings are real. 3) Ourselves or the “flesh.” This is the sin which remains inside of us even as the redeemed of the Lord. Paul wrote of a sin, “in the members of [his] body…” in Romans 7, cited is vs. 23. This is that old nature that was put off by the new nature in Christ when he crucified the old “us” and raised up the new “us” in peace with him and eternal life. We are actually our own worst enemies. This can be things like pride, self-righteousness, hate, or, the “pleasures” of destructive lusts. In summary, Christians have three enemies: what’s outside of us, the fallen angels, and our own old natures inside of us. What’s without and what’s within. God comes into our lives and sows better things into our lives. Godly wisdom. An alien righteousness. Life-giving friends, patterns of living, and experiences. No matter when he began this, while those things may indeed take time, they will take root and bear fruit.

To be wise in life, we need to know how Satan works. We’ll see one example here today. In 2 Corinthians 2:9-11, we’re given a great insight into one of the subtleties of sin actually regarding forgiving someone for sin. Did you know that Satan works against the church in forgiveness?! He does. What’s going on in our example is that in Corinth, Greece, a man had had sexual relations with his stepmother. This is another form of sexual immorality. Apparently, she was not a member of the church, but he was. I say this because he alone is dealt with and not her also. Paul wrote about this to the same church back in 1 Corinthians 5. In vv. 1-8, Paul calls the believers in Corinth to kick the man out of the fellowship. Presumably, he’d been confronted and given a chance to repent to the Lord and had not done so. So, following Jesus’ own prescription (see Matthew 18:15-20) they were to put the man out in judgment. This is what Jesus calls, “Binding and loosing.” Paul called them to do this. And it worked in every way it was supposed to! They were being trained and growing to be loving people. As Christians, we’re all to get the “beam” from our eyes to be able to do this. They were learning to be more like their Father and cared enough about the Lord and the man (and the woman, and everyone involved) to eject him from their fellowship for his unrepentant sins and so God did what only he could do by their obedience and the man was now coming back in repentance. So, now what? That brings us back to our other letter to second letter to Corinth in 2 Corinthians 2:9-11. The church was now being walked through what to do with this now repentant fellow. So, he’s no longer with his stepmother. Such “were some of you…” 1 Corinthians 6:11. Keyword: “were.”

The church as a collective group is working to become more like Jesus. We need each other for this. Just as he is perfect in his rebuke of sin and his judgment and his call for repentance, he’s perfect in forgiveness toward those who repent. He actually forgives! Hallelujah for the Cross! He does! So, the church must learn to be also. If we’re not mature- in both rebuke and in restoration– we’re not being like Christ in it all. It can’t be either or, it must be both and. So, if Satan couldn’t keep this man from the church by his sin, he’ll keep the church from him by theirs. We can’t be ignorant of the persistence of evil. Through pride, they might not forgive him. They might hold it over his head or deem him unworthy of restoration into the church. In other words, they might not forgive him. But no, Jesus said it’s to be more like seventy times seventy, reader! If they won’t forgive him when he repents, they will not be completing their ambassadorship toward the man. Jesus said, “…if he listens to you, you have won your brother.” Matthew 18:15b. So, Paul says to them now to, “reaffirm your love for him.” 2 Corinthians 2:8b. Paul wants them to welcome him back with open arms. He writes of the test of faith this was for them all to put the man out, is rejoicing in the man’s repentance, and calls them to now complete the hoped for task of the church here in welcoming the man back in the forgiveness Jesus purchased for them all to enjoy. This is exactly why any good church would ever discipline its own!

But look at what follows and we’ll conclude. Paul says to now forgive the repentant formerly sexually immoral man: “So that no advantage would be taken of us by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his schemes.” 2 Corinthians 2:11. Schemes in what? It’s been well said that if Satan (recall all that that means in our threefold enemy) can’t get us in our weaknesses, he’ll come after our strengths. If this church was “All forgiveness” and no rebuke or discipline it’d be wrong. If it was “all rebuke” and no forgiveness it would also be wrong. Loving one’s neighbor as oneself in part means rebuking someone blind to their own sin because we’d desperately want our neighbor to do it for us if we were in their place. “Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself.” Galatians 6:1. In all its failures, the church was doing well in this area of discipline in this matter. If they welcomed this man back with open arms and truly strove to forgave him and assure him of his forgiveness in Christ, Satan would have no advantage over any of them in this. They would be walking with Christ together.
God bless!!!

Joseph Pittano

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