November 8, 1998

Satan's device, evil purpose.

2 Corinthians 2:11.

Satan has been around for at least 6,000 years. He has studied humans; he knows human nature, and he knows where he can strike to destroy people. He seeks to injure the cause of Christ; he seeks to ruin the souls of men; he seeks to destroy genuine Christian churches and Godly families; he seeks to destroy those who honestly want to serve and please the Lord. He works to accomplish his evil destruction through both the saved and unsaved.

Salvation does not deliver us from the warfare between the Kingdom of God on earth and the power of the wicked one. Rather, salvation gives us the means of victory in the warfare. We are more than conquers through Christ who loved us.

Satan has many devices for injuring the cause of Christ -- the word of God clearly defines 5 or 6 other than what is given in this section. His devices include: causing doubts in his existence so men will not oppose his work; keeping men blinded to the truth of the word of God; corrupting the simplicity of the gospel message.

I am not going to go beyond the context of the devices in this message. Look at the context of the verse, 2 Corinthians 2:5-11.

The man in this section was evidently the one who was involved in the evil situation of 1 Corinthians 5:1-6.

The man was involved in a more evil activity than even the pagans did. He was living with his step mother as though she were his wife. Paul rebuked the church for overlooking the evil. The church took action, and removed the man through church discipline. The man repented, and in 2 Corinthians 2:5-11, Paul is giving further instruction concerning the man and the situation. Now Paul is warning the church against being too hard on sin.

Before we look at the four devices in this section, let me point out some things, vv. 1-6:

1) Paul was greatly anguished that he had to write the harsh things of 1 Corinthians 5. He wrote them with many tears.

2) V. 2, the people of the church were much grieved also that they had to remove the man from the church. In fact, v. 6 implies that the punishment given to the man was not unanimous, but was inflicted of many. He had many friends who resisted the punishment that was required for his sin. We are not told how much turmoil the church went through before the sentence against the sin was carried out. We are not told of the hurt feelings and of the ones who stood against removing the man. Knowing human nature, we can assume that Paul's judgment in the matter was not accepted by all.

3) The man was clearly punished for his sin. The sin was not ignored, nor was it swept under the rug. The man made restitution according to the law. Justice had been done; the church dealt with the man as was required by the word of God. Corrections were made according to the word of God. (Paul simply carried forward the punishment prescribed in the OT law, and applied it to the church.)

4) V. 4, the motivation for what the church did was love. The object of the church discipline was to call the man to repentance, and to deliver him from the destructive path he was on.

Four points:

FIRST, v. 7, the man was in danger of overmuch sorrow. The Spirit of God convicted the man, and he repented of the evil.

Proverbs 28:13 He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.
He confessed his sin, and forsook it. He changed his actions. He moved out or the woman moved out, and the man made the situation right. There is no mention of the woman, so he must have been the one who moved or had her removed from the situation addressed in 1 Corinthians 5. (Notice it is the man's responsibility to lead in confessing and forsaking sin. We can imagine the "war" that went on when the man made the situation right and separated from this woman.)

V. 7, The man had confessed his sin; he had repented and turned from his sin, and he had found mercy and forgiveness from the Lord of mercy. Yet now he was being swallowed up with overmuch sorrow. Though he had been forgiven, the man was beating himself up over the evil he had been involved in.

He was unable to free himself from the guilt of his past sins. He was driving himself to despair and hopelessness.

One of the greatest and most effective device of Satan is to drag up the past:

He works to cause us to continue to beat ourselves up over past sins -- sins that have been confessed and forsaken, and for which we have obtained mercy from the Lord.

He works to cause us to live in the past, to meditate on past failures, to meditate on past mistakes, and even to meditate on past victories. All of these things hinder our effectiveness in the present.

(ILLUSTRATION: The little boy who killed his grandad's cat that he loved so dearly. He took the dead cat to his grandad and asked forgiveness. The grandad forgave, and grandad buried the cat. But the boy continued to dig it up and ask forgiveness. Finally, grandad told boy to quit that, or he would be in trouble for continually bringing it up.)

SECOND, v. 8, the church was in danger of being too harsh on the man. The church was in danger of being too ridged and strict on the man. The church was unable to do what the Lord had done --- forgive the man, and put the sin in the past.

In welcoming the man with forgiveness, the church could not be accused of tolerating sin, for they had dealt with it. On the other hand, Paul reminded the church that it must welcome repentant sinners with love and open arms.

Thus a device of Satan is to cause the church to make repentant sinners feel unwelcome.

THIRD, vv. 7, 8, must be applied on an individual level. It is also the individual Christian's responsibility forgive and comfort those who have fallen into sin and made it right.

V. 8, we have the responsibility to to confirm your love toward him. How would we confirm our love toward a repentant sinner?

Galatians 6:10 10 As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.
Not only is a device of Satan to cause an individual to beat himself up, but a device of Satan is to cause fellow Christians to beat the man up. What do I mean?

One of the devices of Satan is to urge us to dig up past failures and sins of others. Though they have confessed the problem, and God has shown mercy, we fail to do the same. Particularly when we get upset or when we want to justify some of our own failures or sins.

(ILLUSTRATION: Instead of the little boy digging up the dead cat over and over, we dig it up and remind the boy that he killed it, even though he has tried to make it right, and correct the problems.)

This is a particular problem among those who are close to us. We see the shortfalls of those we are close to, and though we know they are working on them and trying to bring those areas into conformity to the word of God, we still dig it up.

Don't think that Satan does not know how to use these things to promote bitterness and hard feelings between people who should be working together. A very destructive device of Satan in the church or in a family is to beat others over the head for past mistakes and sins that have been dealt with and placed under the blood of Christ.

Notice here the seriousness of the sin the man was involved in, yet Paul said that he was to be forgiven, and left in the past. If it was not, they gave Satan the advantage.

FOURTH, an overview of this passage gives us a fourth device of Satan. Satan is a master of extremes. One of his devices is to cause a church and to cause individuals to go to extremes: 1) overlook sin. 2) be unforgiving and too harsh on sin.

In other words, we hold people to standards not required by God's word, both too high and too low. Both of these things will give a bad name to Christianity, both to individual Christians and to churches.

Balance is one of the hardest things to achieve, and Christ was the perfectly balanced man. God's word gives the perfect balance.

Satan is a subtle enemy. He has many strategies to use against us. He is a watchful adversary, and he just does not miss the opportunity to take all advantages against us. We have been warned, and his evil plans are exposed. We are not ignorant of his devices.

1 John 3:8 He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.
Romans 8:37, Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
Philippians 3:9-14