Satan wants to help you—to help you sin. He is hell bent on taking 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 of them:
He presents the bait and hides the hook. Satan shows you the pleasure and the profit that may flow out of yielding to sin, but hides the wrath and misery that will inevitably result. This is, of course, exactly what he did with Adam and Eve: he displayed the benefit of eating that fruit, but hid all the cost. "There is an opening of the mind to contemplation and joy, and there is an opening of the eyes of the body to shame and confusion. He promises them the former, but intends the latter, and so cheats them."
He paints sin with the colors of virtue. Satan knows that if he were to present sin accurately, you would run away from it rather than be attracted to it. Therefore, he conceals sin behind the camouflage of virtue so you can more easily be overcome by it and take more immediate pleasure in committing it. When he does this, pride comes in the form of neatness, covetousness in the form of thrift, and drunkenness in the form of a good time. Whatever temptation you are prone to he will likewise dress up as a virtue.
He convinces you this is only a little sin. Satan tries to convince you the temptation you face, the sin you are drawn to, is just a small and a harmless one. He wants you to believe this is a sin you may commit without any great danger to your soul.
He shows you that even noble men have sinned while hiding from you their sorrow and repentance. Satan will let you see that greater men than you have fallen into this sin and still been loved by God. He will set before you the adultery of David, the pride of Hezekiah, the impatience of Job, the drunkenness of Noah and the blasphemy of Peter. But as he does so, he will hide from you their tears and laments and he will hide from you that they repented of those very things and would plead with you not to succumb to the same temptation.
He presents God as only and ever merciful. Satan will convince you that you do not need to be afraid of this sin, that there is no real danger in this sin, for God is full of mercy, he delights in mercy, is ready to show mercy, never wearies of mercy and is more prone to pardon than to punish. And as he presents God's mercy, he deliberately conceals God's justice.
He convinces you that repentance is easy. As Satan presents a temptation before you, he will try to convince you that the work of repentance is an easy work, that it is not at all difficult to turn, to confess, to be sorrowful and to beg the Lord's pardon. And if all this is true, there is no urgent need to bother yourself with battling sin, for you can repent later just as easily as you now commit the sin.
Brooks has six more to go, but I will share those at another time. Here is a particularly thought-provoking prayer he includes:
Ah Lord! this mercy I humbly beg, that whatever you give me up to, you will not give me up to the ways of my own heart; if you will give me up to be afflicted, or tempted, or reproached, I will patiently sit down, and say, It is the Lord; let him do with me what seems good in his own eyes. Do anything with me, lay what burden you will upon me, so you do not give me up to the ways of my own heart.
And here is a challenge to understand that every sin is an act of defiance against God.
Every sin strikes at the honor of God, the being of God, the glory of God, the heart of Christ, the joy of the Spirit, and the peace of a man’s conscience; and therefore a soul truly penitent strikes at all, hates all, conflicts with all, and will labor to draw strength from a crucified Christ to crucify all sins. A true penitent knows neither father nor mother, neither right eye nor right hand--but will pluck out the one and cut off the other.
The Tweetable Puritan:
- Adversity hath slain her thousand, but prosperity her ten thousand.
- The best course to prevent falling into the pit is to keep at the greatest distance.
- Many eat that on earth that they digest in hell.
- Sin will kiss the soul, and pretend fair to the soul, and yet betray the soul forever.
- A man bewitched with sin had rather lose God, Christ, heaven, and his own soul than part with his sin.
- Sin will surely prove evil and bitter to the soul when its robes are taken off.
- There is no little sin, because no little God to sin against.
- There is more evil in the least sin than in the greatest affliction.
- You can easily sin as the saints, but can you repent with the saints?
- Many can sin with David and Peter, that cannot repent with David and Peter, and so must perish forever.
- He who turns not from every sin, turns not aright from any one sin.
- Those who do not burn now in zeal against sin must before long burn in hell for sin.
- True repentance is a continued spring, where the waters of godly sorrow are always flowing
Please do read along with me if you are interested. For next week, continue in Section II (“Satan’s Devices to Draw the Soul to Sin”) and read the second set of six devices. (Read devices 7 to 12 and stop short of Section III: Satan's Devices to Keep Souls from Holy Duties.) 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.