What Paul Taught the
Corinthians about Satan

Hiram Kemp

Hiram Kemp

The New Testament tells us that Satan is a roaring lion who walks around seeking to devour God’s people (1 Peter 5:8). Christians are clothed with the armor of God as they seek to be on guard against the wiles of the devil (Ephesians 6:11-17). The more we know about the way Satan operates, the better off we will be in our efforts to withstand him. As Christians, we should remember that we do not have to fear the devil because Jesus has destroyed him and the power he possesses (Hebrews 2:14-15). However, he can still exercise power and influence over us if we yield to him.

Paul dealt with several issues in 2 Corinthians: defending his apostleship, discussing the contribution for Jerusalem and following up on some of the things he wrote in 1 Corinthians. Also within 2 Corinthians, Paul spoke more about Satan and how he works than he did in any of his other writings. The Corinthian congregation is known for the problems it had. Like every congregation, there were issues with which to deal, and these two letters reveal the guidance he gave to them. By looking at the warnings he gave the Corinthians and also the way in which he described Satan’s work, we can be better prepared to resist the devil ourselves.

We Know How Satan Works

In 2 Corinthians 2, Paul wrote about receiving the one who had repented. Paul told them that they should realize the punishment he received was enough (2 Corinthians 2:6). They should forgive and comfort him so that he would not be overcome with sorrow (2 Corinthians 2:7). Additionally, they needed to affirm their love for him (2 Corinthians 2:8). Paul encouraged them to do all of these things because they were not ignorant of how Satan operates (2 Corinthians 2:11). Satan would love for hard feelings to persist and for grudges to build.

The Corinthians were to be wise and not to let Satan gain an advantage or outwit them (ESV). We, too, are not ignorant of his devices. We have a Bible full of details about the ways he behaves. From Genesis 3, we know that Satan seeks to introduce doubts into our minds about God and what He says (Genesis 3:1-6). Later, John spoke of the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life, in which Satan is, no doubt, a major contributor (1 John 2:15-17). We read of him tempting the Son of God and how he tried to cause Him to stumble when He was physically weak (Matthew 4:1-11). Knowing how he works, we should not be caught off guard by the tactics he employs. Paul encouraged the Corinthians to rely on their knowledge about him and make the right decisions. We know the things that tempt us most and how Satan has used those things in the past to trip us up. We need to be people that are aware of the devil’s strategies and respond accordingly.

Satan Does Not Always
Look Like Himself

Paul dealt with false teachers who were trying to turn the Corinthians against him. He said the false teachers were deceitful workers transforming themselves into apostles of Christ (2 Corinthians 11:13). The false teachers are similar to Satan who transforms himself into an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14). The Corinthians were not to mistakenly think that everyone who claimed to love God and the Gospel told the truth. Some claiming to be ambassadors of Jesus were teaching another gospel (Galatians 1:6-10). When most people think about Satan, they think about a red suit, horns and a pitchfork. The Bible says he will not come in a costume that will easily identify him. The truth is, Satan will probably come to us with a Bible verse on his lips and a hymn in his heart. We should not be fooled but test everything and hold on to what is good (1 Thessalonians 5:21). We should be sure to examine everything people teach us by what we find in Scripture, so that we are not deceived (1 John 4:1). Many have been led astray and misled because they could not see through the disguise of the evil one. Though Satan tries to mask his appearance, he cannot mask his fruit. Jesus assured us that people could be known by the fruit that they bear (Matthew 7:15-20). Realize that Satan does not always look like Satan, but he is still Satan!

Satan Harasses Christians

Though Satan is not everywhere and does not know everything, he does try to harass Christians. Paul said a messenger of Satan was sent to buffet (KJV), harass (ESV) or torment (NASB) him (2 Corinthians 12:7). He does this in various ways and through various people taken captive by him (2 Timothy 2:26). Satan can harass us, but he cannot harm us (1 John 5:18). God protects Christians, and His grace is sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9-10). Though we must temporarily deal with Satan on earth, his time is running out. Satan knows that he has a short time (Revelation 12:12).

Christians have overcome him in the past, and we can do so today as well (Revelation 12:11). When we finally overcome, we will dwell with God forever. Satan will be tormented day and night forever (Revelation 20:10).

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