2Co 2:9-11 “For to this end also did I write, that I might know the proof of you, whether ye be obedient in all things. To whom ye forgive any thing, I forgive also: for if I forgave any thing, to whom I forgave it, for your sakes forgave I it in the person of Christ; Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.”
Paul apparently had a two-fold purpose in his instruction to the church at Corinth when he addressed the issue of fornication among them. He made it plain in his first letter that the matter needed to be taken seriously. In his writing, he even rebuked the church for appearing to be proud of the situation (1Co 5:2) instead of being grieved by the situation.
In this letter, he has already instructed them that this brother should be restored to their love and fellowship. It was not good for him to be consumed with his sorrow (which is evidence of his repentance). However, Paul instruction to them concerning the situation was not just for the good of this brother. Because of their attitude towards this matter (and others), Paul felt it necessary to test the steadfastness of the brethren.
It is needful as the church that we be obedient in all things. While we realize that our understanding and knowledge is sometimes limited, when we receive counsel that is obviously from the word of God by the servants of God, we should pay attention. The church would benefit in obeying Paul’s admonition concerning their handling of the situation of fornication, as well as idolatry and division. By the same token, it was to the churches benefit to obey in that act of loving forgiveness.
There is a great truth when it comes to real forgiveness. To truly forgive requires that we exercise the mind of Christ. We cannot forgive from within our own conceits. Real forgiveness has to be done in the person of Christ: we are His ambassadors. When the church forgives in the person of Christ, those who minister to the church must also forgive for the churches sake.
When we fail to forgive, Satan gains an advantage. If we make a pretense of forgiving instead of doing it in the person of Christ, Satan gains an advantage. The appearance of forgiveness without actual forgiveness is hypocritical. We are not giving glory to God when we behave in such a manner.
Failure to act in the person of Christ opens the door for division. It opens the door for idolatry and fornication (both literally and spiritually). For us to behave in such a manner is inexcusable, because Paul says we are not ignorant of his devices. We know when we make these half-hearted, purely human attempts we are opening the door to the mind of Satan (see Strong’s definition of devices).
May we draw night unto God by having the mind of Christ, knowing that to do so causes the influence of Satan (the accuser) to flee from us!