Can a Christian Be An Agnostic?
Satan takes advantage of us when the watchman concept of prayer is not operating, as is made clear in the following verse: “So that no advantage be taken of us by satan, for we are not ignorant of his schemes” (2 Corinthians 2:11). The context of the verse is forgiveness, but a general principle is also revealed, which is very applicable to our subject. Let’s analyze the verse more closely.
The word “ignorant” is from the Greek word agnoeo, which means to be “without knowledge or understanding of.” Our English word “agnostic” is derived from it. Technically, an agnostic is not a person who is unsure if he or she believes in God, although we now use the word in this way. In actuality, however, an agnostic is a person who does not know or understand, regardless of the subject. We also get the word “ignore” from the same root. In this verse, we are urged not to ignore or be an agnostic – without understanding – where the devil is concerned.
“Schemes” is from the word noema, which literally means “thought.” The verse is essentially saying, “Don’t be without understanding of the way satan thinks.” Noema came to also mean, “plans, schemes, plots, devices,” because these things are born in the thoughts of the mind. For greater insight, let’s insert all of these concepts into the verse: “Don’t be without understanding of the way your enemy thinks and operates – of his plans, plots, schemes, and devices.” There is also a subtle promise in this command. If God says we are not to be ignorant of satan’s schemes, obviously He is willing to reveal them to us. He doesn’t want us to be caught off guard.
What happens if we ARE unaware of satan’s schemes? The verse says he will take advantage of us. The word “advantage” is derived from pleonekteo, which is a compound word meaning literally “to have or hold the greater portion” (pleon – “the greater part;” – echo – “to have or hold”). It is easy to see why this is a word for “covet.” It also means “overreach.”
In boxing, the person who has the longer reach has the advantage and usually gets in more blows. The word pleonekteo is also translated “make a gain;” satan makes a lot of gains on those who are unaware of his ways. The Greek scholar, Bullinger, says pleonekteo means “to make a prey of, to defraud.” Let’s put all of these definitions together: “To the degree we are ignorant of the way our adversary thinks and operates – of his plans, plots, schemes and devices – to that degree he will gain on us, prey on us, defraud us of what is ours and have or hold the greater portion.” Wow!
The next obvious question is, the greater portion of what? Whatever! Our jobs, marriages, families, communities, money, government, nation, and more. In the 1960s and 1970s, the Church in America was without an understanding of what satan was planning, and he got the greater portion of our schools. The same could be said of our arts and entertainment, our government, and many of our churches!
Paul was taken advantage of in 1 Thessalonians 2:18. Satan “gained” on him in the ongoing war over spreading the Gospel: “For we wanted to come to you – I, Paul, more than once – and yet satan hindered us.” We know Paul won more battles than he lost. He was human, however, and at times satan succeeded in thwarting his plans. Please notice it does not say God changed His mind about where Paul was to go. It clearly says that satan hindered him. Those people who would have us think that satan can do nothing except what God allows and therefore, we can simply ignore him should reread these two verses. God does not ignore the devil, and neither should we. And satan certainly does a lot of things God does not “allow” him to do.
The only sense in which it can be said that God allows everything which occurs on earth is that He created the laws and principles governing the earth – sowing and reaping, cause and effect, and the free will of humans. We, humans, however, implement these principles and in so doing, determine what we reap and experience.
As we stated yesterday, in the 1960s the Church in America was not watching – she was asleep. Unaware of what satan was doing, he grabbed the bigger portion of American society and culture. The demise has been shocking. But watchmen on the wall are sounding the alarm – “There is a serpent in our garden! And it’s time to run him out.”
And we shall! Through the blood of the Lamb, the victory of the Cross, and the name of the Creator and Owner of the earth – Jesus – we shall overcome and expel the serpent.
“And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony” (Revelation 12:11).
Pray with me:
Father, our ignorance of satan and his thinking, schemes, and plans, has been costly. He has certainly taken advantage of us and gained the bigger portion of America. He has outmaneuvered the church and overpowered unbelievers. It looks as though a generation has been lost.
Yet, You are the God of resurrection power. You are the God of grace and the Giver of mercy. Your mercy triumphs over judgment, and Your love and grace triumphs over the serpent. You love to redeem and restore. You’re the Great Physician, the Giver and Sustainer of life, the Friend of sinners and Lover of humankind. And You are coming to America!
So, we boldly ask for this appearance. Come with strength and power, come like a rushing mighty wind, come like the rain, flow like a river. Come to the poor and the rich, to black and white and yellow and brown, to the city and the country, to the young and the old. Come and heal this nation of the serpent’s bite. Free us from his deception and blindness, his lust and perversions, his hatred and murder.
Come to this nation – come quickly and come with a hurricane-force wind! In Jesus’ name, we pray this…Amen!
The serpent has bruised America’s heel; but through the victory of Calvary, we shall crush his head!
Portions of today’s post were taken from my book Watchman Prayer.