We are often confused about the main way the enemy of our souls attacks us.
Now I’m sure that he comes against us in many different ways, all of which I myself do not know; but I think we too often imagine Exorcist-like warfare with crosses held high and twisting heads as in the movie. And while I’ve never seen “The Exorcist” and thus don’t know the music, I think we imagine our warfare with Satan to be set to music like the “Psycho” soundtrack, the now well-known shrieking sound of mainstream slasher movies.
However…in reality, his efforts against us need no such melodramatic tones. Instead, apparently, he just quietly whispers unforgiving thoughts in our ears, and therefore keeps us from reconciling with one another. How subtle and simple and…incredibly destructive.
Paul knew his plans, and so he wrote to the church at Corinth, apparently about the man who had led a revolt against the Apostle himself:
So you should rather turn to forgive and comfort him, or he may be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. So I beg you to reaffirm your love for him. For this is why I wrote, that I might test you and know whether you are obedient in everything. Anyone whom you forgive, I also forgive. Indeed, what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, has been for your sake in the presence of Christ, so that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs. 2 Corinthians 2:7-11 (ESV)
Do you understand what God is saying through the Apostle? It’s this: Be sure to forgive, so you will not be outwitted by Satan.
You see, our enemy needs no loud pulsing music, no twisting heads or bloody knives, no Ouija boards or tarot cards. All he needs is a thought…or two: “She’s acting so nice to you now, but think about how she hurt you.” “Don’t forget what he said.” “I know it happened 10 years ago, but you should never forget the wrongs committed against you.”
And if you buy it, if you listen to him, the enemy will have a foothold in your life to plant a root of bitterness by which you yourself and many others will be defiled (Hebrews 12:15).
I know that some reading this will have encountered horrible injustices in their lives, wrongs committed against them that I can really not imagine. So I do not say forgiveness will be easy. In fact, it is one of the hardest things we ever do, because the only way we can truly grant mercy to someone who has hurt us is to in a sense, pay for their wrongs on our own. If you borrow my car and wreck it, either I make you pay for repairs or I pay myself, but true forgiveness always comes at a cost. Anyone looking at the cross knows that.
Thus, Calvary becomes the source of our forgiveness and the source of our strength to fight against the enemy’s designs. For the One Who said of His crucifiers, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34), also forgave the likes of us sinners who have trusted in Him.
He only asks of us that we extend the same costly forgiveness to others, and when we do…we crush the plans of the enemy.
For Friday, May 29th: 2 Corinthians 3