Last week we were reminded that we have an enemy – Satan. When a nation has an enemy, they [presumably] learn all they can about their operations and tactics before engaging in battle. Now that we’ve identified our enemy, we need to do the same.
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. 1 Peter 5:8-9 (ESV)
A roaring lion is quite a fearsome creature. Like a lion, Satan wants to devour us – and if we are firm in the faith, we can resist him. But we are human, and we make mistakes. Some of those mistakes are serious, and may even result in our excommunication from fellowship (Matthew 18:15-17). However, once an individual has repented (and shown evidence of repentance), s/he must be allowed to re-enter the fellowship. We cannot hold a grudge.
Now if anyone has caused pain, he has caused it not to me, but in some measure—not to put it too severely—to all of you. For such a one, this punishment by the majority is enough, 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 Cor 2:5-11 (ESV)
Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Eph 6:11-12 (ESV)
Satan will use anything to trip us up. He is a schemer. I find it interesting to see that unforgiveness can lead to us being outwitted by Satan! He is only interested in confusing believers and throwing them off track. When we harbor resentment, anger, and bitterness, we are playing into his hands. When we justify our unrighteous behavior, we lose focus on the Savior and are falling for Satan’s schemes.
These last two verses remind me that we need to always live in love and harmony.
Is there someone you need to forgive? God isn’t interested in your justifications for being angry at that person. He wants you to forgive. When you’ve forgiven, you can stand stronger against Satan. But more important…
Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you. Eph 4:31-32 (KJV)
For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. Matt 6:14-15 (ESV)
Take some time to go through your list of friends and acquaintances and find out who you need to forgive. If you aren’t forgiving, Jesus tells you that God won’t be forgiving. We can’t resist the devil with a “chink” of unforgiveness in our armor!
It doesn’t matter what they did. It only matters that you let go of all resentment or bitterness toward everyone.
Please “pray up” and forgive. It’s the first step!
Speaking of prayer, for those of you in the United States, tomorrow is a momentous day. Please pray for our nation as we go to the polls. PLEASE VOTE. Be a part of the process. See you Wednesday.