Tag Archives: Costly forgiveness

How We Are Outwitted By Satan


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

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Posted by on May 28, 2015 in Uncategorized


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Why Doesn’t God Just Forgive Everyone?

Have you ever wondered why doesn’t God just wave a cosmic hand over the universe and forgive everyone? Well, Jesus tells a story in Matthew 18 that helps to answer this question that many have asked…

The story begins with a King who wishes to settle accounts. If you have ever borrowed anything from the King, if he has ever been gracious to you with resources, he now wants to be paid back, and one servant apparently owes him an astronomical amount: 10,000 talents. A talent was equivalent to 20 years of wages, so just assume a very modest salary of $20,000 a year – a talent would therefore be worth $400,000, and 10,000 talents would be worth…$4 billion dollars.

Even if scholars are off on the exact amount of a talent, however you slice it, when Jesus tells this parable, he means for us to understand that it is a huge amount of money, impossible for any lowly servant to pay back.

So the king does what you do in a world of slavery and debtor’s prison – he orders the man and his wife and kids to be sold on the auction block. At least he will receive something from him.

And this brings on the begging… 

So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt.

Matthew 18:26, 27 (ESV)

Now we often talk about the huge debt that was forgiven and what that meant for the servant; what we don’t often talk about is who absorbs the loss: the King, the master of the servant. As they say in financial circles – the King takes a bath. Because, you see, in forgiving the servant, the King actually loses 4 billion dollars.

So let me rephrase the question once again: why doesn’t the King of kings just wave his hand and forgive everyone? And the answer is this: because, as the parable illustrates, forgiveness is never free to the one who grants it. In fact, true forgiveness is always very costly.

You might put it like this: true forgiveness always involves suffering. Because Sin always demands a price that someone, either the offender or the offended…must pay.

If you loan your friend your car, and they crash it, someone has to pay. Another may say that you should just forgive them. Okay, sure. But it will cost you.

If someone tells a lie that defames your character, and you confront them and they ashamedly admit that they did it, then there are two options: either you absorb the sin, giving you a lesser reputation, or they admit to everyone that they lied, and their reputation is ruined. Someone might say that you should just forgive them, in the same way that they say God should just forgive everyone. The problem is that the world doesn’t work like that. Someone always has to pay.

And here we begin to understand why God does not simply wave his hand over all creation and simply say, “FORGIVEN!” Because a price must be paid…always.

And praise God…it was.


For more reading on Matthew 18, see My Favorite Prayer Partner

Tomorrow, Tuesday January 27th: Matthew 19


Posted by on January 26, 2015 in Uncategorized


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