“… so that no advantage would be taken of us by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his schemes.” (II Corinthians 2:11)
Although many are reluctant to talk about “the devil” in our “modern” days, The Bible tells us that we are to be on the alert for the schemes of our spiritual enemy. Ephesians 6:11 commands us to “put on the full armor of God, so that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.” And II Corinthians 2:11 tells us that “we are not ignorant of his schemes.” Our ancient enemy is working against us, and we are to stand against what he is attempting. But Paul also indicates in this verse that we are not “left in the dark” about what he is trying to do. And in fact, the larger passage around this verse tells us what one of his biggest schemes against us involves:
Just before the present verse speaks about not being ignorant of Satan’s schemes, in :10, Paul writes, “But one whom you forgive anything, I forgive also …” — and then he follows up by saying that he didn’t want any advantage to be taken of them by Satan; that we are not ignorant of his schemes.
So in context, Paul is pointing at the lack of forgiveness as one of the “schemes” of Satan that we are to be on guard against. Jesus commanded us in Luke 17:3-4: “Be on your guard! If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times a day, and returns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.” The reason Jesus warned us about this is that holding a grudge against someone is one of the things the devil loves to use to get a foothold in our spiritual life.
Hebrews 12:15 likewise warns: “See to it … that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled.” When we do not forgive, we become bitter — and all kinds of trouble arises in family, work, and church situations.
The remedy? Remember the truth of the gospel. You are only forgiven by the grace of God in Jesus Christ — and you are to show that same forgiving grace with others that God has granted you.
It may also help, Paul reminds us here, to realize that if you are tempted to become embittered against someone, and hold a grudge against them, that this is one of Satan’s favorite schemes to cause trouble. Don’t fall for it. “For we are not ignorant of his schemes.”