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What does it mean not to be ignorant of Satan’s devices (2 Corinthians 2:11)?

not ignorant of Satan’s devices

In 2 Corinthians 2:5–11, the apostle Paul addresses the issue of a man who had committed a sin so grave that it affected the whole body of believers. After the man underwent some form of correction prescribed by Paul and carried out by the church, Paul now believes the discipline had been effective. He urges the believers in Corinth “to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow” (verse 7) and to reaffirm their love for the sinner. One reason Paul gave for ending the punishment and forgiving the man was to prevent Satan from outsmarting them and taking advantage of the situation, “for we are not ignorant of his devices” (verse 11, NKJV).

Paul recognizes that Satan is clever and cunning and that believers need to be aware of his schemes. The Greek term translated as “devices” (KJV, NKVJ) in 2 Corinthians 2:11 is alternately rendered “designs” (ESV) and “schemes” (NIV, NASB, CSB). Satan’s devices are the evil intentions and plans he thinks up to oppose God and His people.

This passage is not the only time Paul draws the Corinthians’ attention to Satan and his clever devices (see 1 Corinthians 5:5; 2 Corinthians 4:4; 6:15; 12:7). In 1 Corinthians 7:5, Paul warns married couples not to deprive one another of sexual intimacy for too long “so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.” He also mentions Satan’s capacity to disguise “himself as an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14, NLT).

By forgiving the man who had sinned, the Corinthians would exercise wisdom rather than be ignorant of Satan’s devices. Forgiveness would restore unity in the church and prevent Satan from taking advantage of any division. It would also deprive Satan of an opportunity to discourage or defeat the man through an excessively long and drawn-out punishment (2 Corinthians 2:6–7; see also Galatians 6:1). Likewise, it would keep church members from hardening their hearts toward the man.

The Bible presents numerous examples of Satan’s schemes. As the enemy of God, the devil is constantly working against God, His purposes, and His people (Job 1:6–19; Matthew 16:23; 1 Thessalonians 2:18). The apostle Peter strongly advised believers to beware of Satan’s devices: “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith” (1 Peter 5:8–9, NLT).

One of Satan’s devices is to accuse believers of their past sins (Revelation 12:10; Zechariah 3:1–2). Thankfully, Satan’s accusations are baseless and powerless against those who are forgiven and redeemed by Jesus Christ, who “canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross. In this way, he disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross” (Colossians 2:14–15, NLT).

Another of Satan’s devices is to tempt Christians to sin and fall away from fellowship with God (Ephesians 4:26–27; 1 Thessalonians 3:5; 1 Timothy 5:14–15). Jesus warned His disciples that Satan would try to “sift each of you like wheat” (Luke 22:31). From the beginning, Satan has tried to lure and seduce people to put God to the test (Genesis 3:1–5; Acts 5:3–9; 15:10; 1 Corinthians 10:9).

A favorite device of Satan’s is deceit, “for he is a liar and the father of lies” and “there is no truth in him” (John 8:44; see also 1 Timothy 2:14). We can resist Satan’s deceitfulness by knowing the truth of God’s Word in the depths of our being (Psalm 119:11). When the devil tempted Jesus in the wilderness, the Lord responded to each direct attack with the Word of God (Matthew 4:1–11). Scripture is our most potent weapon against Satan’s devices.

Satan has a way of making sin attractive, but we can resist his temptations if we “prepare [our] minds for action and exercise self-control. Put all [our] hope in the gracious salvation that will come to [us] when Jesus Christ is revealed to the world” (1 Peter 1:13, NLT). Jesus is our High Priest who “understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin” (Hebrews 4:15, NLT; see also Hebrews 2:18). “God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure” (1 Corinthians 10:13, NLT).

Christians mustn’t be ignorant of Satan’s devices but be vigilant and ready for action. We can rely on God’s faithfulness in times of testing and temptation (see 2 Peter 2:9; Revelation 3:10). We can “be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that [we] can take [our] stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:10–12). And we can do as Jesus commanded: “Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak!” (Matthew 26:41, NLT).

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What does it mean not to be ignorant of Satan’s devices (2 Corinthians 2:11)?
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This page last updated: April 30, 2024