The Devil’s Device of Discouragement
Robert Wurtz II
Wherefore I beseech you that ye would confirm your love toward him. (2 Cor. 2:8)
Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices. (2 Cor. 2:11)
I wish in this short entry to draw attention to this passage in order to demonstrate how the enemy of our soul will use discouragement to destroy a person if he is given the opportunity. It is one of his ‘devices’ or ‘strategies’. The church at Corinth was dealing with a young man that committed a terrible sin, worse than was even found among the Gentiles. He took his fathers wife to himself. Paul gives direction to them that they are to put away from themselves this wicked person. He has as a first line of priority the protection of the congregation. Fornication is a leaven that will leaven an entire church if it be not dealt with. So Paul deals strongly with it. However, it was not to destroy the person, but was always with a design of seeing the person come to repentance.
Restoring the Person
Paul never forgot about this young man. In fact, a close reading of the text reveals that he was very concerned about his time having been put out of the church. His desire was to see a godly sorrow bring about a repentance where the mind and behavior changed and did not change back. But there is a point in which leaving the person in the hands of Satan and this world could actually destroy them and their faith- rather than securing repentance. This is important to consider. Satan desires to destroy our faith. He wants people to feel unloved and bitter towards the church. Paul said we are not ignorant of the Devil’s devices. We know he will try to do this. The solution? Wherefore I beseech you that ye would confirm your love toward him. (2 Cor. 2:8) This is it. We must confirm our love.
There are times when things go on in the churches of God that need to be dealt with, but we must ever be mindful that the enemy will try to jump right in the middle of what we are doing to bring confusion and destruction. He uses discouragement as a powerful weapon. Paul said if we are not careful Satan will gain an advantage over us. Literally the passage reads, “in order that we be not made gain of, or overreached, by Satan.” The Revised version renders it, “that no advantage may be gained over us.” Satan is opportunistic and when we let our guard down he will strike. Discouraged people are a primary target of Satan. It is during these times that he will move in with temptation and lies seeking to turn your heart away from God.
Satan wants people mad at the church or mad at God. He wants circumstances to develop that may or may not be of our own doing that he can use to discourage us. It could be a misunderstanding or what C.S. Lewis spoke of in Screw Tape Letters when he described how Satan works on peoples minds. The devil talks to people in their mind and heart and he will work a situation with slander and lies until he has made a mountain out of a molehill. He will put the worst possible construction on an event and speak that into your mind. Where there are uncertainties he will fill the blanks in with all kinds of lies and exaggerations. Before we know what has happened Satan has brought the whole church low. Understand that the word discourage means to cause a person to lose confidence or enthusiasm. Both parties in a conflict could be right from their particular point of view and yet both end up discouraged because of the conflict of disagreement. This is Satan’s common sense strategy. Sow strife and confusion.
Discouraged and Tempted
Don’t be surprised when Satan comes to tempt you during times of discouragement. It is his strategy. Thanks be to God we are not ignorant of it. He is liable to tell you to go back to the very sins that God set you free from. Stress and pressure can weaken our defenses and if we are not careful we can fail in the grace of God. Satan don’t discriminate, he wants to destroy the fornicator and the minister. He wants to destroy everyone he possibly can. So we have to be on guard. How? Recognize when Satan is bringing discouragement and try to deal with situations such as sin and disagreements without allowing him to prevail. Some situations are complicated and hard to deal with. Paul’s answer, again, Wherefore I beseech you that ye would confirm your love toward him. (2 Cor. 2:8) The answer is love. Why? because love counteracts the lies of Satan by compelling us to put the best construction on events. Satan will work our minds to put the worst construction on. We must not succumb to his slanderous ways.
What about just overall discouragement? Satan will move in those times as well and we must be alert to his plan. If we get discouraged he will start talking into our ears and before we know it we are thinking carnally and reverting back to old patterns of dealing with things. Recognize these times and submit yourself unto God. We are told that if we will do this and resist the Devil- He will flee from us. (James 4:7)