Last week I shared six ways that Satan wants to help you—to help you sin. Satan’s great plan for your life and death is to take you to hell with him. Thomas Books, in his book Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices, drew up a list of the devices Satan uses to draw you—yes you!—to sin. Here are six more of those devices:
He convinces you that you can venture into the occasions of sin without sinning yourself. He wants you to think that you can go near the prostitute without getting into bed with the prostitute, that you can join with drunkards without becoming one yourself, that you can toy with sin and be around sin and yet remain immune from its power and effects, you can visit that web site without actually looking at the near-naked women all throughout it. He wants you to be unconcerned with those commands that we avoid the very appearance of evil and instead allow ourselves to creep very close to it.
He presents to you the mercies and the freedom from misery men have enjoyed even while they have been in sin. He will allow you to see another person who is sinning and bring to your mind the fact that at the moment this person is enjoying his sin and not suffering for it. And yet from the Bible we know that God’s “hand of mercy may be towards a man, when his heart may be against that man, as you may see in Saul and others; and the hand of God may be set against a man, when the heart of God is dearly set upon a man, as you may see in Job and Ephraim. The hand of God was severely set against them, and yet the heart and affections of God were strongly working towards them.”
He presents to you the crosses, losses, reproaches, sorrows and sufferings that come to those who love and pursue holiness. He reminds you that Christians are so often afflicted, abused and scorned by others and attempts to convince you that you would be wise to take the easier path. Those afflictions and corrections God uses to make us more holy, Satan wants us to believe are a useless waste.
He works in you to convince you to regularly compare yourself with those who are reported or reputed to be worse than you are. This is how the proud Pharisee could proclaim what we have all felt at one time or another: Thank God that he has not made me like this other sinful man. He wants you to see that this guy sits and drinks with the party animals; you only sit with them without taking a sip, and therefore are much holier than he is.
He tries to pollute your heart with gross errors that will lead you to sin or to doubt the character of God. He wants you to believe that the Bible is full of error and therefore unreliable; he wants you to believe that you do not need to avail yourself of the ordinances of the church or of the day-by-day graces of Scripture reading and prayer. He may go so far as to try to get you to deny that Jesus Christ was a real man or to believe that Christians are now entirely free from indwelling sin. He may even want to convince you that he himself does not exist.
He will seek to have you choose to befriend and associate with wicked people. He would have you ignore all of the biblical warnings about the danger of keeping bad company and the benefits of choosing godly friends, and instead have you associate with people who will lead you into sin and who will help you further your sin.
And there they are: six more ways in which Satan is eager to help you sin. Let me wrap up with two choice quotes. The first is a helpful metaphor:
The heart of man is a three-sided triangle, which the whole round circle of the world cannot fill, as mathematicians say–but all the corners will complain of emptiness, and hunger for something else.
And now, a warning against pride:
As low trees and shrubs are free from many violent gusts and blasts of wind which shake and tear the taller trees, so humble souls are free from those gusts and blasts of error which shake and tear proud, lofty souls. … Pride fills our fancies, and weakens our graces, and makes room in our hearts for error. There are no men on earth so soon entangled, and so easily conquered by error–as proud souls. Oh, it is dangerous to love to be wise above what is written, to be curious and unsober in your desire of knowledge, and to trust to your own capacities and abilities to undertake to pry into all secrets, and to be puffed up with a carnal mind. Souls that are thus a-soaring up above the bounds and limits of humility, usually fall into the very worst of errors, as experience does daily evidence. The proud soul is like him who gazed upon the moon–but fell into the pit.
The Tweetable Puritan
- He who would not be burnt, must dread the fire; he who would not hear the bell, must not meddle with the rope.
- God will not remove the temptation to sin, except you turn from the occasion of sin.
- We must not only hate and avoid gross sins–but everything that may carry a savor or suspicion of sin.
- Abused mercy will surely turn into fury.
- Afflictions are a crystal glass, wherein the soul has the clearest sight of the ugly face of sin.
- God’s house of correction is his school of instruction.
- All the stones that came about Stephen’s ears did but knock him closer to Christ, the corner-stone.
- Afflictions are sweet preservatives to keep the saints from sin, which is a greater evil than hell itself.
- God makes afflictions to be but inlets to the soul’s more sweet and full enjoyment of his blessed self.
- God had one Son without corruption–but no son without correction.
- God had one Son without sin–but none without sorrow.
- The snow covers many a dunghill, so doth prosperity many a rotten heart.
Please do read along with me if you are interested. For next week, read Section III: “Satan’s Devices To Keep Souls From Holy Duties, To Hinder Souls in Holy Services, To Keep Them Off From Religious Performances.” I will be offering some thoughts about all of that next Thursday.
Also, Logos has kindly offered the ebook for free for anyone who cares to download it and read along (or not; you can have it for free and read it later). It is part of Volume 1 of The Complete Works of Thomas Brooks. If you use the coupon code RCT613 you can have the whole thing for free. You don’t need to be a Logos user either, as you can download one of their apps and read that way.
The purpose of this series is to read the classics together. Do feel free to leave a comment below or to leave a link to your own blog if you have chosen to discuss this book there.