The devil is outraged by absolution and the Lord’s Supper, basically, by the grace of God. He cannot stand to see Christians rejoicing in God’s grace or receiving absolution or forgiveness in the Lord’s Supper. So what does he do? He pours on the devilish power immediately following confession/absolution and the Sacrament of the Altar, hoping to drag unsuspecting Christians out of their joy and back into misery and guilt once again. This is why sometimes it seems like temptation is much stronger after one is absolved, or after one goes to the Supper. It is real. It is not your imagination. He is a master at luring us Christians into a trap, making us think first of all that now that we have confessed our sins and been absolved, all is better now, and our life will be much easier. And then he hurls a dart so poisonous at us, and so quickly, that before we even know what is happening, we have fallen once again into temptation. We were able to enjoy our forgiven state for a few hours at best, or even a few minutes. And then we are once again riddled with guilt and shame, just the way the devil likes us.
What does this mean? It means that all Christians must be especially on their guard after Church on Sunday, and after Confession. This is perhaps their most vulnerable time. It is the time that the devil slays many a Christian and sends them right back into hell. It gives him no greater pleasure than to see a penitent Christian run from the altar, joyful once again to be free of sin and its shame, only to leap right back into his old ways. The devil hates forgiveness. He hates grace. He hates to see God’s children forgiven and he will do everything in his power to rob this pleasure from them. Be on guard, dear Christians. “Our struggle is not against flesh and blood…” The battle rages on, and we cannot afford to lower our defenses even the slightest bit. God be gracious to us and help us. Amen.