February 23, 2009

Grace and Satan

2 Corinthians 12:7-10

The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.
Romans 16:20


In Paul’s account of his persistent but unexplained thorn in the flesh he declares that the thorn is “a messenger of Satan.” While the Lord refuses to remove the thorn in spite of repeated pleading, he does reassure Paul with these words: “My grace is sufficient for you.”

Notice that the thorn was given to Paul, not inflicted on him. God’s grace was somehow active in giving the thorn and also in bearing it. And yet the thorn was also “a messenger of Satan.”

In another letter Paul also links grace and Satan. “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.”

This pairing of grace and Satan is both encouraging and unsettling to us. Grace is encouraging. Satan is unsettling. Though we may not be able to echo Paul’s glad boasting and delight in his weaknesses as he endures them in God’s strength, we can have complete confidence in the final outcome of this grace-Satan conflict. Grace will triumph!

Sufficient grace and strengthening grace are here for us right now.

Perfecting grace and crushing grace are on the way. And Paul attributes it all to the God of peace who gives strength through his power. And through it all this thorn-tormented apostle knows it is “for Christ’s sake.”

God of all grace, we ask for your peace when we are caught in the conflict between grace and Satan. Give us your strength, we pray, to persevere for Jesus’ sake. Amen.

About the author — Dale Vander Veen

Dale Vander Veen is a retired Christian Reformed pastor who with his wife, Edith, has ministered in California, Washington, and Michigan. They have three married children and six grandchildren. He currently writes a daily e-mail series of devotions.

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