“Forgive him,” Paul says, “and comfort him, lest perhaps, such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow” (2 Corinthians 2:7).
He goes on to say, “To whom ye forgive any thing, I forgive also; for if I forgave any thing, to whom I forgave it, for your sakes forgave I it in the person of Christ;” and the why: “Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices” (2 Corinthians 2:11).
You’ve heard the saying, “No one can take advantage of you unless you allow it.” That is true in the spiritual sense, too. Satan does not have power over you, unless you give it to him. It’s not “the devil made me do it” — there is a choice.
There are many ways Satan can take advantage of a person, but we need to remember that “Greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.” We need to live cautiously that we do not allow Satan to make our decisions and take advantage of us.
Unforgiveness is one thing hard to purge from the heart and mind. But God will give grace. He forgave us for Christ’s sake — and in the Lord’s prayer, we acknowledge that He is greater than we are and, as He has forgiven us, we also forgive. Christ is the victory.
Guilt (past) is something Satan drags out and slaps a child of God with, especially in a weakened state. It is baggage that weighs a person down, depresses the spirit and drains his faith. But, praise the Lord, that past is gone with all its guilt. Jesus took it all away when He saved you. There may have been restitution to be made and reaping to be done, but a Christian does not have to keep “beating himself up” for what has been placed in the “sea of forgetfulness.” Guilt is a device of Satan.
Then there’s lust — another of Satan’s devices. James said, “But every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed” (James 1:14). Satan will tempt you in your own natural-born desires, trying to trap you with addictions that could destroy your soul. And it’s not the same attraction for everyone. While one person will have a tendency toward one thing, another will be open to something else. And when that desire overrides self-discipline and evolves into sin, Satan’s device of lust has triumphed and he has the advantage. But that temptation can be turned around, because with every temptation, there is a way of escape. As James said earlier (James 1:3, 4), “... count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience ... let patience have her perfect work.”
Pride is a sneaky device of Satan. I’m not talking about the consciousness of dignity which causes us to put our best foot forward in appearance and demeanor, or even to be satisfied in accomplishments. I’m talking about those feelings of arrogance and superiority that mark the person as “holier than you” or “I can do anything better than you.”
The Bible talks about being heady and highminded. The danger is the love of control and authority and entertaining an elevated opinion of oneself. It means the loss of love and concern for others and “no one can tell me anything.” This can lead to a reprobate (unprincipled) mind losing the knowledge of right and wrong. Satan can make that person feel he’s OK — everyone else is wrong.
A Christian needs to be on the alert for Satan’s tricks to take the advantage. We can only be aware of his devices if we stay in the Word and the Spirit of Christ rule in our hearts. We can recognize the attacks of Satan and hide in the safety of God’s grace.
“He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock that shadows a dry, thirsty land;
He hideth my life in the depths of His love, and covers me thee with His hand.”