“Anyone you forgive, I also forgive. And what I have forgiven – if there was anything to forgive – I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake, in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes.” 2 Corinthians 2.10-11From David King
Puritans had much cooler book titles than Christian authors use today. I came across the fantastically named, “The Precious Remedies against Satan’s Devices” by Thomas Brooks and have been steadily reading through it. It is really a meditation on the final line of this verse, “we are not unaware of his schemes.”
Paul here is saying that he knows how Satan the great adversary operates, and assumes the Christians to whom he writes, do as well. But I fear that, somewhere along the line, many Christians have lost this awareness. Thomas Brooks set out in 17th Century to remind us (much as CS Lewis sought to do in his “Screwtape Letters” in 20th Century.)
When I came across these verses in my quiet time recently, I was particularly struck by the particular manifestation of Satan’s schemes which Paul highlights – lack of forgiveness in the body of Christ. When Christians fall out with one another because of some grievance or other, Satan exults. He will do everything he can to fan into flame miscommunication, offence, anger, self-righteousness, hurt, shame, criticism, because by doing so he inflicts a serious wound in the people of God, as we seek to proclaim the live-saving and life-giving gospel of forgiveness, mercy and grace.
But we know that this division is his scheme, so lets redouble our efforts to bind up every wound within the fellowship of believers and so frustrate Satan’s schemes. Every word of forgiveness, every grievance set aside, every act of grace strikes a mortal blow on the schemes of our enemy and brings glory to our Saviour.
“A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offence” Prov 19.11