Summary: Just as sports teams scout their opponent, we are not unaware of the schemes of Satan, our mortal enemy.
July 6, 2003
2 Cor. 2:10-11 If you forgive anyone, I also forgive him. And what I have forgiven--if there was anything to forgive--I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake,
in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes.
The context of this passage is a man in Corinth who was under discipline, who had apparently repented. Paul was concerned that if this man wasn’t openly forgiven, Satan might use that lack of forgiveness on the part of the local church, to plant a spirit of bitterness in him.
Paul knew that nurturing bitterness over how we’re treated is one of the schemes, one of the tactics, that the enemy uses, to draw us away from God, and that’s the enemy’s primary goal in trying to utterly defeat us – to draw us away from our Creator.
Can’t you picture Satan at first, trying to keep the Corinthians from disciplining the man at all...now we don’t know what the sin was – there’s speculation among different scholars.
But we do know that Satan is not omniscient. While God literally knows our every thought, Satan, in a sense, might know what we’re thinking, too, but that’s only from thousands of years of observing human nature. And in those years, Satan probably observed that, first of all, many people have a hard time imposing discipline. Sometimes it’s just easier to let things go. Discipline, and not just parents toward children, but especially among adults, is not a pleasant task.
So, the enemy’s first scheme here was probably to whisper to the Corinthians something like, “Well, it’s really not that bad, and he probably won’t do it again, and besides, he’ll just be mad at us if we discipline him.”
When that didn’t work, Satan just went with the flow. When the Corinthians decided to discipline the man, Satan worked to make the pendulum swing all the way to the other extreme... from no discipline, to too much, and too harsh.
That’s what Paul feared, that’s what prompted his remark “that Satan might not outwit us, for we are not unaware of his schemes.”
I believe an illustration from the sports world will help us begin to see what Paul is writing of here when he writes in verse 11:
“in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes.”
Who knows what a scouting report is? That’s the title of this morning’s message: Scouting Report. A good scouting report in sports reveals the
of an upcoming opponent. It tells the strategies and tactics of the opponent. These strategies may be inclined to capitalize on your tendencies, strengths and weaknesses, to your opponent’s advantage.
In football, for example, if a team runs the option, you prepare your defense to handle that offense. If a team passes more, you prepare your defense to deal with passing. If a team has a particularly talented running back, you might look for his tendencies and prepare a strategy to stop him.
In basketball, which I know better, let’s look at the same kinds of scouting reports.
If a player can’t use his left hand in play, you might encourage the defender to overplay him, that is, make him have to go left. If a player is a good shooter, but doesn’t drive to the basket well, you’ll play him up tight, forcing him to drive to the basket. I coached with a man once who really knew his hoops – a great basketball coach. Ken Brannon, who went to be with the Lord a few months ago, came up with some good scouting reports when we would see a future opponent play. I remember scouting this one team that had a great shooter. Ken noticed as we watched him play that when he was dribbling the ball before a shot, he always took two hard dribbles just before he stopped dribbling and went up for a jump shot. We told the defenders that, and they harassed him mercilessly when he’d take those two hard bounces.
These things are all part of a good scouting report. In our Christian faith, our battle against a very real enemy is a lot more serious, and a lot more important, than this sports analogy, which is helpful to a point. In fact, scripture draws a clear comparison to warfare in many places -
Ephes. 6:12 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.
2 Cor. 10:3-5 For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 4The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.