Blinding, Beguiling, Buffeting

An Address on the work of Satan, and how he is beaten (2 Corinthians 4:3-7; 11:1-3, 14-15; 12:7-9)

We have in this epistle a sort of autobiography of the Apostle Paul, and I think if you read it from that point of view you will marvel at what the man endured, and how he triumphed. Read the 1st chapter, the 4th chapter, the 6th chapter and the 11th chapter and you will say: How was it possible for a man to endure such vicissitudes as this man endured and yet live undaunted? The secret lies in the happy fact that he knew God as the God of all comfort and the sufficiency of the grace of the Lord. He is going to tell us of what he suffered for Christ's sake, and he begins with a burst of praise, "Blessed be God," he says, and it is THE GOD OF ALL COMFORT and the Father of mercies that he blesses. He was a happy man who knew God in this character, and this knowledge is within the reach of every one of us, and having it we have a priceless treasure.

Blinding

But if there is the blessed God to be known, there is also a great foe to be faced whose intention is to prevent men from knowing God and to harass those who do know Him. To be forewarned is to be forearmed. In three chapters in this Epistle is Satan spoken of. We learn that be blinds people, he beguiles those whom he cannot blind, and he buffets those whom he cannot beguile. Blinding, beguiling and buffeting, this is Satan's threefold work.

He blinds those that believe not in God, for "if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost, in whom the god of this world has blinded the minds of them that believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God should shine to them." He has been baffled in that respect in regard to us, I trust in regard to everyone of us. But if any of you gathered here are still ignorant of God, and do not know His goodness and grace, the god of this world has succeeded in blinding your minds. May your eyes be opened this very day. What is it that Satan is blinding people in the world against today? It is against the knowledge of the God of all comfort, he is blinding people against their blessing. There is no pity in the heart of Satan, he is the great adversary and the destroyer; none would ever be saved if he could prevent it. He has failed as far as we are concerned, for the light that shines in the face of Jesus has shone into our hearts to give to us the knowledge of God, and this is a treasure that money cannot purchase and of the like of which the earth has no knowledge.

We go through this world with this treasure in our hearts, we know God, that blessed God, in all the fullness of His grace, we know Him as our Father, revealed to us in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort.

What a difference this has made to life, how dark would time and eternity have been without the knowledge of God. Everything is changed for us now, as the radiance from the face of Jesus fills our hearts and illuminates our lives and makes us glad.

The love of God, and that we should know that love, is indeed very wonderful and it was that that the devil was against. The devil was bent upon keeping God out of our hearts. Then plainly he is no friend of ours, and when we understand that we will give him and all his works a wide berth, we will beware of the devil who sought to blind us against the knowledge of God. In the knowledge of God lies all our blessing, all our comfort. How are we going to face this great enemy and the tribulation that must be ours in the world that he controls? God will carry us through; it is the knowledge of God that gives us hope, confidence and power, the knowledge of God drives fear from our hearts. As long as we are dependent upon Him we are safe and undisturbed; He holds us in His blessed hand, and if trials even as great as those through which the apostle went confront us, God will carry us through.

But if we have the knowledge of God in our hearts, how will we be affected by it? What manner of people are we? The God we know is greater than every adverse circumstance, do we put God between ourselves and our circumstances, or do we allow our circumstances to come between our souls and God?

I knew a young lady who was just coming into the light, and it was very wonderful to her. She had a Christian friend, to whom she said, one day, "Do you know God?" and the lady said, "Yes, I know God," then she said, "Why do you worry so much?" . . . Christians, if we know God, if we carry about this treasure from day to day, what sort of people ought we to be? You may be sure it pleases the devil when we worry, it glorifies God when we trust and give thanks. May we be marked by thanksgiving, as those into whose hearts the light of the knowledge of God has come. And if some of us are still doubtful as to what God is, and shrink from wholly trusting Him, let us learn the truth that He is known in the face of Jesus. Look upon the face of Jesus, the face that smiled on the children, that was wet with tears at the grave of Lazarus. That same face that looked with compassion upon the leper, is all radiant with God's glory now. What He is God is. How blessed it is to know Jesus, for in knowing Jesus we know God.

"Sinners gathered round Him, lepers sought His face,
None too vile and loathsome for the Saviour's grace."
Such is our God.

From the glory where Jesus sits enthroned there has been ministered to us fullest blessing, perfect righteousness has been ministered to us from the very glory of God, as chapter 3 teaches, and that righteousness is our fitness to enter into the glory from whence it has come, so that we may be, and I trust we are, perfectly at home in the very presence of our God, and the knowledge of Him is our boast and our joy. This will make us channels of blessing, for the light that has shone in must shine out. If we awake in the morning with the sense of the knowledge of God in our souls, we shall meet the difficulties of the day as those who know God. There will be a quietness of spirit about us, and people will realize that we have unseen resources that are greater than the demands that life makes upon us, and being comforted by the God of all comfort we shall be able to comfort others and show them what a treasure we have in the knowledge of God, and how rich we are, and how blessed He is. What a triumph over Satan it will be if we can say with Paul, "our light affliction, which is but for a moment, works for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory." Only those whose eyes have been open can say this, and they say it while they look upon unseen and eternal things (chap. 4:17-18).

Beguiling

But if Satan has been baffled in his effort to blind us against the knowledge of God, he will endeavour now to beguile us from Christ. Paul wrote that he was very jealous over the Corinthian Christians, for he had espoused them to one Husband, that he might present them as a chaste virgin to Christ, and he greatly feared that as the serpent beguiled Eve, so they should be beguiled from the simplicity as to Christ. The Lord Jesus Christ has been taken up out of death by the power of God and has been set on the very throne of God, and the light of the knowledge of God is in His face, and that light has shone upon us and we are in the light now. In all that there is set forth what God and Christ are for us, but now we learn that we are to be for Christ. I want this to arrest and impress us, beloved Christians, we have been espoused to the Man in the glory of God. The day is coming when we are to be presented to Him as His wife, for the marriage day is coming (Eph. 5:25-27; Rev. 19), but these are the days of His espousal, when He makes known the love of His heart to us, and in which He wants our hearts to be moved with responsive love to Him. These are the days in which He is to be supreme in our affections, shutting out every other object, so that there shall be no rival in our lives to Himself. He wants us for Himself in the light of God in which we have been set, as espoused to Him.

The devil wants now to divide our hearts from Christ so that He will not get His pleasure in us. He will not be able to do this after the marriage of the Lamb has been celebrated in heaven, for we, the church, shall ever be as a bride adorned for her husband (Rev. 21), satisfied with Him and forever wholly for His pleasure, and Satan in that timeless and glorious eternity will have been cast into the lake of fire, his eternal doom (Rev. 20). But now He comes with his beguilings and we need to be watchful lest we be deceived by him; for now that we are in the light, Satan does not come as darkness, he transforms himself into an angel of light (v. 14), and he will set before us thoughts that appear at first to be right just to turn our feet a little way out of the path and make us leave our first love. He will make us self-occupied, and think that we are wonderful people, if he can; he will make us proud, scornful and censorious of others, and think ourselves everything. He will make us think less of our need of Christ and of His glory and grace, and occupy us with all sorts of questions if he can, under the guise of making us more spiritual and useful. He may even try to divide us from Christ by our service. My friends, and you young Christians specially, I want you to understand that the greatest thing you can do in this day of His espousals is to keep yourselves for Christ. Beware of the world and its snares, the devil is behind it; beware of the flesh and its clamours, the devil is behind it. Beloved Christians, is Christ not worthy of our wholehearted devotion? When we think of the greatness of the love that carried Him down into death for us, what have we to say to Satan? "The love of Christ passes all our knowledge," are we going to let him seduce us from Christ or chill our affection for our great and eternal Lover?

No, we will not be seduced, for the Bridegroom of our souls is brighter and better than the brightest and best that Satan can offer. We will keep ourselves for Christ and allow no rival to get into our hearts.

"Thine, Saviour, Thine,
No more this heart of mine
Shall seek its joys apart from Thee,
The world is crucified to me,
And I am Thine;

Thine, Saviour, Thine,
For ever to recline.
Oh love eternal, fixed and sure,
Yes, I am Thine for evermore;
Lord Jesus Thine."

With heart fixed wholly upon the Lord, and satisfied with Him, the devil will be baffled when he seeks to beguile us from Christ.

Buffeting

If Satan fails to beguile us, he will buffet us. There was one man that he could not beguile from Christ, and that was Paul, and so Paul became the object of his intense hatred and buffeting and it looked as though he was all but overwhelmed. This messenger of Satan, a thorn in the flesh, was the devil's supreme effort to crush him. It must have been something very terrible, for he does not seem to have asked to have been spared any other suffering, but this was something so special, an infirmity so dreadful, that human strength and fortitude failed under it and be pleaded with the Lord three times that it might be taken away from him, such was his agony. And it was not done for him, as we have often heard. But he got an answer, and what an answer! He found that there was something greater than Satan's buffeting, and the Lord spoke to him personally in giving the answer, "MY GRACE IS SUFFICIENT FOR THEE, MY STRENGTH IS PERFECTED IN THY WEAKNESS." Do you see what we have here? The Lord is at one end of the sentence and Paul is at the other, and His grace, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, lies between. There is the ocean at one end, and there is the thimble at the other end, and the truth is that the ocean is enough for the thimble. Paul asked no more. The Lord was enough. Satan might continue to do his worst, his attack was in vain, it only gave Paul a fresh opportunity of showing how wonderful his Lord was and how sufficient was His grace. And here we are, today, so many little thimbles who may be buffeted by the devil, some of us perhaps sorely buffeted, and we have wondered why, and whether the Lord knows the trials through which we pass. It may be because you have been true to the Saviour and have made a stand for Him and for His interests, things have gone against you. You have been and are being buffeted. If it is indeed for Christ's sake you are honoured indeed, "for if ye be reproached for the Name of Christ, happy are ye, for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you" (1 Pet. 4:14) and the Lord has said, "My grace is sufficient for thee." The ocean is enough for the thimble. Satan is a defeated foe, and will shortly be trodden beneath our feet, for the God of peace will do this, as His word declares; but he is not trodden beneath our feet now, and we need to know his wiles, and to be watchful. But, blessed be the name of God, though he may be more than a match for us, and will be if we get away from our Lord, he is no match for our Lord, and he can never get ahead of our Lord, our Lord was always ahead of the devil. Never once did the devil steal a march upon the Lord. You remember how He said to Simon, "Satan has desired to have you that he might sift you as wheat, but I have prayed for thee." The blessed Lord had looked ahead and prepared beforehand for Satan's attack upon Simon so that it turned out for Simon's good and Satan's defeat.

So He views the path that we tread, and He knows just from whence Satan's attacks will be made upon us, and His grace is prepared beforehand and is enough for us, so that though Satan may buffet, and trials may come, we may be more than conquerors through the grace and strength of Him who loves us and will never cease to love us.

Benediction

The epistle that begins with "Blessed be God," closes with a benediction for us. "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost be with you all Amen." What a glorious threefold escort is here! What can Satan do against the triune God? What supplies, what protection, what comfort are ours! And what compensation for suffering and loss does this benediction unfold for us! As we dwell upon it we begin to see what made Paul the triumphant man that he was, we learn how the saint of God can be superior to all the attacks of Satan and how in the midst of trial and distress we may be able to say, "Blessed be God!"