When you forgive this man, I forgive him, too. And when I forgive whatever needs to be forgiven, I do so with Christ's authority for your benefit, so that Satan will not outsmart us. For we are familiar with his evil schemes. 2 Corinthians 2:10-11
This week in this Forgotten War series, we have been looking over some of the tactics of our enemy, Satan. One of the ways that Satan can often lock us up is when we refuse to deal with strained relationships. It can be that there is conflict between a husband and wife, and they put off having an honest conversation. It could be that a child has a strained relationship with their parents, and runs away physically or emotionally. It may be that the relational difficulty is with you and another employee at work, and you now are purposefully avoiding them every time you go to your job. Satan knows how to trap us in conflict, and he often uses it to tear people apart from important relationships.
Paul knew this well as he observed conflicts in the early church that divided God's heart for community. He saw the church in Corinth taking sides, arguing, and at times not extending forgiveness and love for one another. They knew Jesus' call to love God first, and then to extend that love to other people, but they had a hard time getting past their differences. Paul helped them to take a step back so they could get some perspective on what was actually taking place in this Forgotten War. Paul warns us that when we refuse to forgive and extend grace to others, we open ourselves up to Satan's schemes. This is important because Paul is giving us a look at how Satan can twist things in our mind when there are relational strain and difficulties.
Have you ever noticed this in your own life? You have a hard conversation or conflict, and you lose sleep at night because you can't stop replaying it in your own head. It could be that the hurtful words said by another person are always on your mind, and it makes you want to retaliate against them. It may be that a close friend might notice that you are still reliving the conversation and rehearsing what you should have said, instead of the way you did respond. When we do all these things and refuse to deal with conflict, Satan has us right where he wants us. He wants us to dig in our heels deeper, rather than to say the words, "I'm sorry!" Satan wants us to become bitter and isolated from other people because forgiveness is an expression of the very God he hates. We have to see conflict as an opportunity to grow in our relationships and extend God's love and forgiveness to outsmart our enemy.
You might be doing this devotional today, and as you read these words, God has revealed a person or relationship that you have difficulty with. We would encourage you to not let Satan get a foothold in your life through that conflict, but instead, we would like you to deal with it. Write out a plan in the note section on how you can make things right, and in what ways you can offer forgiveness. When you come to church this weekend, ask for prayer to resolve the difficulties.
Read 2 Corinthians 2:5-13 (NLT)
I am not overstating it when I say that the man who caused all the trouble hurt all of you more than he hurt me. Most of you opposed him, and that was punishment enough. Now, however, it is time to forgive and comfort him. Otherwise he may be overcome by discouragement. So I urge you now to reaffirm your love for him.
I wrote to you as I did to test you and see if you would fully comply with my instructions. When you forgive this man, I forgive him, too. And when I forgive whatever needs to be forgiven, I do so with Christ’s authority for your benefit, so that Satan will not outsmart us. For we are familiar with his evil schemes.
When I came to the city of Troas to preach the Good News of Christ, the Lord opened a door of opportunity for me. But I had no peace of mind because my dear brother Titus hadn’t yet arrived with a report from you. So I said good-bye and went on to Macedonia to find him.
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