2 CORINTHIANS 1:23-2:11
23But I call on God as witness against me: it was to spare you that I did not come again to Corinth. 24I do not mean to imply that we lord it over your faith; rather, we are workers with you for your joy, because you stand firm in the faith.
1So I made up my mind not to make you another painful visit. 2For if I cause you pain, who is there to make me glad but the one whom I have pained? 3And I wrote as I did, so that when I came, I might not suffer pain from those who should have made me rejoice; for I am confident about all of you, that my joy would be the joy of all of you. 4For I wrote you out of much distress and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to cause you pain, but to let you know the abundant love that I have for you.
5But if anyone has caused pain, he has caused it not to me, but to some extent-not to exaggerate it-to all of you. 6This punishment by the majority is enough for such a person; 7so now instead you should forgive and console him, so that he may not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. 8So I urge you to reaffirm your love for him. 9I wrote for this reason: to test you and to know whether you are obedient in everything. 10Anyone whom you forgive, I also forgive. What I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, has been for your sake in the presence of Christ. 11And we do this so that we may not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs.
The Evil One, the Devil, Satan, and Lucifer are the most common names in English for the Accuser of the Brethren (Revelation 12:10, KJV).
Overall in our culture, Satan is more comic than scary, more the stuff of movies and TV shows than reality. Many years back, if you mentioned the word 'Satan', most of us would have instantly recalled Dana Carvey's church lady character on SNL:
Even now, you get more snicker than alarm and more "whatever" than "what should we do."
(If you are interested in being scared out of your wits in a good, entertaining, but true way, I suggest you read Malachi Martin's Hostage to the Devil: The Possession and Exorcism of Five Contemporary Americans. Supremely well-written and (best of all) based on actual accounts of possession and deliverance. All the cases involve Catholic-style deliverance with liturgical ritual and the often dangerous and not recommended step of having the Devil take possession of you (the exorcising priest) in order to set the possessed free. You will not be able to put the book down. http://www.amazon.com/Hostage-Devil-Possession-Contemporary-Americans/dp/006065337X/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1432688955&sr=8-3&keywords=malachi+martin)
Needless to say, Satan is real, as are the millions upon millions of demons that inhabit the earth, causing headaches and worse.
Today's devotional is really not about some interesting aspects of Satan and stories of possession and deliverance, however.
Instead, I draw your attention to how the Apostle Paul refers to Satan in this passage about forgiveness. The surrounding passage (vv. 5-11) is about a person who committed a serious offense in the Corinthian church and who already received church discipline because of the offense. Paul tells the Corinthians to discontinue the punishment since genuine sorrow and repentance have been shown. Rather than continuing the punishment, they ought to restore this remorseful offender to their fellowship. It is at this point that Paul alludes to Satan, implying that continued punishment of the man is only feeding into Satan's designs. Without their knowing, the Corinthians have become Satan's collaborators (in essence they have been "outwitted" by Satan).
What's going on? Satan -- as the name itself indicates -- means to "accuse." 'Satan' in Hebrew is a noun from a verb meaning "to obstruct, oppose, accuse."
Continued accusation and condemnation is at the very heart of Satan's work on the believer. Accusation and condemnation are an affront/challenge to God's Grace. Accusation and condemnation only work if there is no forgiveness or grace available. Accusation and condemnation are valid in the absence of Grace. But in the presence of Grace, accusation and condemnation are both nullified by the Cross of Christ. In other words, accusation and condemnation deny the saving work of Jesus on the Cross. And who but Satan would make such a bold faced lie? Well, unwittingly, people who forget the grace of God in Christ.
In the place of accusation and condemnation, we now have forgiveness and acceptance in Jesus. We have forgiveness for All Our Sins. We no longer stand accused nor condemned. Hard to believe and sometimes hard to accept, but we need to receive what God in Christ offers us every day: Grace for Forgiveness and Grace for Restoration.
"Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death" (Romans 8:1-2).
Let's pray: Lord Jesus, we thank you for the all sufficient grace that flows from your cross to us daily and every moment, carried and released by the Spirit into our very being. Help us to know the availability of this grace and that when we sin your grace is likewise always available when we sin, turning past occasions of sin into present reality of forgiveness and restoration. We will not be outwitted by Satan. Rather, we will be "inwitted" by you. Thank you so much for providing all that we need to live in restoration and freedom, Lord Christ. In your name, amen.