There are several times in the Bible where God just comes right out and tells us how the devil tries to trick us. He also tells us how to avoid those tricks. I naturally overcomplicate nearly everything I touch so I LOVE when God just lays it all out there like that. Because – let’s be honest – we’re all pretty clear on avoiding talking snakes, but the rest of it tends to get a little trickier.
One of the most recognized warnings he gives is in 1 Peter 5:8. “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” God is saying that the devil tirelessly hunts us, waiting for a moment where we drop our guard. When we do, he pounces. SO, don’t give him even more opportunities by willingly dropping your guard.
Lesson: You don’t want to get eaten? Be alert and of sober mind.
I’m super excited because I just stumbled upon another devil expose’ in my reading this past week. It’s in Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians. He references someone in their community who did something wrong, had been confronted about his actions, and now needed to be forgiven. Paul said:
“I am not overstating it when I say that the man who caused all the trouble hurt your entire church more than he hurt me. He was punished enough when most of you were united in your judgement against him. Now it is time to forgive him and comfort him. Otherwise he may become so discouraged that he won’t be able to recover. Now show him that you still love him.“2 Corinthians 2:5-8 NLT 1996
So, this guy screwed up big time. Then he heard his friends loud and clear about the screw up and admitted that he did indeed screw up. Now it’s time to forgive the guy and show him some love. Now what the Corinthians needed to be reminded of was the purpose of discipline. The purpose in discipline is to destroy the sin that’s keeping a person from fellowship, NOT to destroy the person. So, he goes on to say:
“When you forgive this man, I forgive him, too. And when I forgive him (for whatever is to be forgiven), I do so with Christ’s authority for your benefit, so that Satan will not outsmart us. For we are very familiar with his evil schemes.“2 Corinthians 2:10-11 NLT 1996
There it is! Did you catch it?! “I forgive him… with Christ’s authority for your benefit, so that Satan will not outsmart us. For we are very familiar with his evil schemes.” What’s the evil scheme this time? The temptation to withhold forgiveness. Back up in verse 7, Paul said, “Now it is time to forgive him and comfort him. Otherwise he may become so discouraged that he won’t be able to recover.”
Satan’s plan is to convince every one of us that our sins define us and we are not worthy of forgiveness and love. God’s plan is to convince every one of us that JESUS’S LOVE defines us and that – because of him – we are absolutely worthy of forgiveness and love.
Lesson: Don’t want to get outsmarted by Satan? Forgive.
Prayer: Dear Lord, even though you give me wisdom about how to avoid the devils tricks, I still screw up. I let my guard down, I don’t stay alert, and I hold on to grudges instead of forgiving in love. I need your help so that I don’t fall into Satan’s schemes. Please make me stronger each day so that I can see temptation for what it is and get better at saying no to it’s tricks. Amen.