Satan’s Messenger Comes, then Flees

April 9, 2021

Scripture Resource Passage: 2 Corinthians 12:7

If only it were as simple as a Halloween evening. If only it were as clear as authors’ and cinema’s foul characters portray. Lon Chaney and Boris Karloff were theatric masters. Their skills sent movie-goers deep into shiver-land; but evil is more pervasive and profound than human authors and playwrights portray. Conversely, God’s grace and support is more expansive than the universe.

British brother C.S. Lewis once observed (in paraphrase), “We either think too much about the devil or not enough.” This post’s Scripture passages encourage disciples in seeking spiritual strength, while dealing with evil’s reality. 

Today’s primary passage, found in the second letter originally sent to the disciples in Corinth, indicates one level of a profoundly obscured vision. The puzzling words are these: “Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me” (2 Corinthians 12:7b). 

Let’s not suppose evil overwhelms over the Apostle. God Almighty, Absolute Sovereign Lord of the Universe, the One Who is Grace-giver choses to develop his church-planting leader through a faith-crisis. Paul prays, “Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness’” (2 Corinthians 12:8-9). 

God has not ceded his Apostle to evil’s foul work; rather God makes use of evil’s “thorn in…[the] flesh,” for the Apostle’s benefit. Pause and wrap your mind around God’s astounding power and use of the Satan.

James advises, Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you (James 4:7). We should note there is no promise of the Satan permanently fleeing from us, or our world. Scripture does not give us insight into how long, or to what extent Satan flees. Would that it was a once-for-a-lifetime-event which I could invoke and have done with him. 

Personally, I cannot report the Satan perpetually fleeing from me, with an exorcism-like surety. Looking around our world today, looking into my own heart, I find him whose name is cursed ever lurking, ready to destroy every good and perfect gift (1 Peter 5:8). Confessing my vulnerability, I call out to the Father and hear the blessed promise given first to our brother Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Life Application—How do the words of Jesus “Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil…” work in your life (Matthew 6:13)?

I look forward to reading your comments and suggestions. Thank you for reading.

Published by Andrew Simkins

Dr. Andrew Simkins provides spiritual direction for individuals and small groups through the regular blog posts found on this site. He resides in northwest Indiana with his beloved, along with nearby children and grandchildren who are the adornment of his life.

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