Category Archives: Satan

Christ: The Most Precious Remedy

old-medicine-bottlesWhat is the most precious remedy against the wiles of the devil and sin?

Seriously to consider, That even those very sins that Satan paints, and puts new names and colors upon, cost the best blood, the noblest blood, the life-blood, the heart-blood of the Lord Jesus. That Christ should come from the eternal bosom of his Father to a region of sorrow and death; that God should be manifested in the flesh, the Creator made a creature; that he who was clothed with glory should be wrapped with rags of flesh; he who filled heaven and earth with his glory should be cradled in a manger; that the almighty God should flee from weak man—the God of Israel into Egypt; that the God of the law should be subject to the law, the God of the circumcision circumcised, the God who made the heavens working at Joseph’s homely trade; that he who binds the devils in chains should be tempted; that he, whose is the world, and the fullness thereof, should hunger and thirst; that the God of strength should be weary, the Judge of all flesh condemned, the God of life put to death; that he who is one with his Father should cry out of misery, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matt. 27:46); that he who had the keys of hell and death at his belt should lie imprisoned in the sepulcher of another, having in his lifetime nowhere to lay his head, nor after death to lay his body; that that HEAD, before which the angels do cast down their crowns, should be crowned with thorns, and those EYES, purer than the sun, put out by the darkness of death; those EARS, which hear nothing but hallelujahs of saints and angels, to hear the blasphemies of the multitude; that FACE, which was fairer than the sons of men, to be spit on by those beastly wretched Jews; that MOUTH and TONGUE, which spoke as never man spoke, accused for blasphemy; those HANDS, which freely swayed the scepter of heaven, nailed to the cross; those FEET, “like unto fine brass,” nailed to the cross for man’s sins; each sense pained with a spear and nails; his SMELL, with stinking odor, being crucified on Golgotha, the place of skulls; his TASTE, with vinegar and gall; his HEARING, with reproaches, and SIGHT of his mother and disciples bemoaning him; his SOUL, comfortless and forsaken; and all this for those very sins that Satan paints and puts fine colors upon! Oh! how should the consideration of this stir up the soul against sin, and work the soul to fly from it, and to use all holy means whereby sin may be subdued and destroyed!

Thomas Brooks (1608-80), The Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices20.

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The Danger of Serpentine Words

serpent

Yesterday, as I was working through the Good Book Guide “Biblical Manhood” with a friend, we discussed what happened in Genesis 3 in the Fall.  In particular, we began to think about how the serpent (Satan) deceived Eve.  The guide led us to consider how Eve was tempted to think about God’s Word and how we are tempted to heed the same tempting words of the serpent.  After some discussion on our part, we turned to the guide, which summed up Satan’s temptations toward Eve as portraying God’s Word as unclear, untrue, and unfair.

First, the crafty serpent comes to Eve and tempts her to believe that God’s Word is unclear.  He asks “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?”  If you have read chapter 2, you know that God did not actually say that, but “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”  Yet, Eve responds not with the clear word of God but with “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.”  Whoa! Hang on a minute Eve, God didn’t say anything about touching it!  Sure it would be wise not to touch it or even go near it but that’s not what God said.  The serpent’s questioning of the clarity of God’s Word brought doubt to the mind of Eve, leading her to add to it and question her own understanding of it.

Next, we see Satan questioning the truthfulness of God’s Word.  After Eve’s first response, the serpent rebuts, “You will not surely die.”  Now we know we are in dangerous waters.  This is clearly not what God has said but Satan has already brought doubt concerning the clarity of God’s Word, so he has an open door to twist it to his own conclusions.  If it appears unclear to her what God has said, why couldn’t the serpent’s interpretation be valid or at least plausible?  But this is not what God has said.  He said if they eat of that one tree they WILL die.  No question. No ambiguous language.  Completely clear and, as they and all of mankind know, completely true, for death is the great leveler of all mankind.

Lastly, the serpent continues on, tempting Eve to believe that God’s Word and, therefore, God Himself is unfair.  After questioning the truthfulness Satan says, “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”  He is saying, “God doesn’t want you to eat because He is keeping something from you, something good, something you deserve.”  He questions God’s goodness and His truthfulness.  Yet the great deception here is not from God but from Satan, for Adam and Eve were already like God, made in His image.  His withholding was His protection over them, not an unfair keeping from them.  As their Creator, He knew what what they were created for and the best working out of that purpose, so their was even grace in the command not to eat.  Yet, Eve, turning from God and His Word, with the desire of the flesh (good for food), desire of the eyes (delight to the eyes), and the pride in possessions (desired to make one wise), took, ate, gave, and saw, plunging all of mankind into sin, death, and condemnation and bringing forth a curse upon all creation.

But the story does not end here.  The same temptations that the crafty one brought to Eve are temptations that each of us face.  We are constantly tempted to think of God’s Word as unclear, untrue, or unfair.  When it comes to the temptation to think God’s Word is unclear, we are often like Eve.  We either add to it, thinking we are clarifying  what was said or we doubt whether we can really understand it confidently, both of which are dangerous.  There is no doubt that there are things in God’s Word that are hard to understand, for Scripture declares such about itself but it never says that we won’t be able to understand or be confident in the clarity of it.  When such difficult things arise in the Word, or even at times things that are not so hard, we are tempted to add to it, thinking that we are really explaining more or better, while in reality we are explaining it away, making the divine human, robbing it of its power.  When we don’t agree with others on certain issues, rather than turning to the Word for understanding and correction, we merely claim that its a matter of interpretation or opinion, leading us to conclude that the Word is unclear and our comprehension can never be trusted.  This is a slippery slope that leads to all kinds of doubt and skepticism concerning God’s Word.  If God’s Word is unclear, how can we be sure we understand anything, particularly the essentials (God, man, gospel, salvation, Bible, etc.)?

But the Word of God is clear.  Again, I acknowledge that there are things that are hard to understand (2 Peter 3:16), but that in no ways means it is unclear.  God says His Word makes wise the simple and is pure enlightening the eyes (Ps 19:7-8), gives light and imparts understanding to the simple (Ps 119:130), able to make one wise for salvation and is God-breathed and therefore able to teach, reprove, correct, and train in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:15-17), brings freedom from darkness and sin (John 8:31), renews the mind (Rom. 12:1-2), brings forth faith and new birth by the work of the Spirit, (Rom. 10:17, 1 Peter 1:23), in it we find all we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3), and on and on.  If God’s Word is unclear and we cannot stand confidently on it how could the Word accomplish any of those things?  More than that, Scripture is God’s Word – it is His communication to us that we might know Him, love Him, and be reconciled to Him.  Clarity is a must.  Though there will be those who come to differences when seeking to understand the Word, the problem is not with the Bible but shows the presence of the effects of sin on our minds, our own ignorance, assumptions, and attempts to make the infinite finite.  God has been gracious in that, even with these hindrances, He has given us His Spirit in Christ to give us understanding as well as teachers within the church to guide us in the truth and clarity of the Word.

We also face the crafty words of the devil like Eve, tempting us to believe that God’s Word is untrue.  This is extremely deadly.  We are tempted to deny parts that make us uncomfortable whether it concerns who God is and what He has done or whether is concerns who we are, what’s wrong with us, and what we need.  Any denial of its truthfulness leads to death, as seen with Adam and Eve.  It doesn’t matter if you understand it when determining its truthfulness.  It is only by faith that we can understand it (Heb. 11:3).  We are finite, fallen creatures holding before us the pure and authoritative words of God.  Who are we to question, criticize, or deny His Truth?  He spoke and it was!  His Word is unfading, imperishable, unchanging, truth for He is Truth.  The truthfulness of God’s Word flows from His character, for He is a “God, who never lies” (Titus 1:2), and “cannot deny Himself” (2 Timothy 2:13).  “Every word of God proves true” (Prov 30:5; Ps 12;6, 119:42; John 17:17).  Leading from the question of the Word’s clarity, to deny it is to deny its truthfulness, for as shown, it declares itself to be clear and true.

Finally, we are tempted to question the fairness of God’s Word.  Whether it be a concern for the justice of a situation (e.g. destruction of whole cities or God’s choosing of Israel) or commands exhorting right action or prohibiting desirable actions/things (e.g. roles of men and women or lust), we can be easily tempted to think God is unfair and therefore not good for withholding what we think we should have or not doing what we think He should do.  Rereading that sentence may reveal the problem.  Who is the determining factor on what is right, just, or fair?  We are not the determining factor, nor are our conceptions of what is right, just, or fair, but God is – His person and His character determine what is right, just, and fair, which He shows forth in His actions.  Don’t think something God did is just?  Time to adjust your concept of justice to His.  Don’t think something He says or did is right or fair?  Time to adjust your understanding of what’s right and wrong to Him.

Fairness is not a biblical concept but justice and righteousness characterize God and are to characterize His people.  If we want to demand the justice and righteousness of God under the guise of fairness, we need to understand that we are calling down wrath on all of us.  As sinners before a holy and righteous God, all anyone deserves is wrath nothing more.  Want to talk of entitlement?  Before God, in your sin, you are only entitled to wrath.  But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love for us shown in Christ, has reconciled us to Himself through the life, death, and resurrection of Christ.  It is by Him and through Him that we are made new, given eyes to see, ears to hears, and minds renewed that we may stand confidently by the Spirit on the clarity, truthfulness, and justice of God’s Word.

Do not heed the deadly words of the serpent but cling to the living Word of God.

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Fighting Sin with Worship

Originally posted here by Tony Reinke but worthy of a repost.

(The following post has been transcribed and edited from Tim Keller’s sermon “Sin as Slavery,” which can be downloaded for free here.)

Every one of our sinful actions has a suicidal power on the faculties that put that action forth. When you sin with the mind, that sin shrivels the rationality. When you sin with the heart or the emotions, that sin shrivels the emotions. When you sin with the will, that sin destroys and dissolves your willpower and your self-control. Sin is the suicidal action of the self against itself. Sin destroys freedom because sin is an enslaving power.

In other words, sin has a powerful effect in which your own freedom, your freedom to wantthe good, to will the good, and to think or understand the good, is all being undermined. By sin, you are more and more losing your freedom. Sin undermines your mind, it undermines your emotions, and it undermines your will.

Sin Is Addiction

All sin is addiction. Whether it’s bitterness, whether it’s envy, whether it’s materialism, whether it’s laziness, whether it’s impurity — every sinful action becomes an addiction. And every sinful action brings into your life a power that operates exactly like addiction cycles and addiction dynamics begin to operate.

In other words, in the specific addictions of alcohol or drug addiction, or voyeurism, or exhibitionism, or sexual addictions, you actually have a microcosm of how sin works in general.

You know how addiction works. It starts like this: There’s some kind of disappointment or distress in your life. As a result you choose to deal with that distress with an agent; it might be sex, it might be drugs, it might be alcohol. The agent promises transcendence. The agent promises freedom, a sense of being in control, a sense of being above all this, a sense of being liberated, a sense of escape. And so you do it. But when you do it, when you take the addicting agent as a way of dealing with life, the trap is set.

The trap is set because three things begin to happen:

1. Tolerance. You get trapped into what the experts call the “tolerance effect.” In other words, the tolerance effect is that today this or that amount of alcohol or drugs, or this kind of sexual experience, will pale in comparison to your desires tomorrow. The same activity will not give you that same experience any more, and you will find you need more and more and more. What brought you joy yesterday will not be enough to give you joy tomorrow, because your emotions are shriveling and numbing. There’s a tolerance effect.

2. Denial. Addiction destroys because of denial. We all know part of addiction patterns is that your craving makes you rationalize and justify. It twists your thinking. You become selective in your reasoning, selective about your memory. You’ll do all sorts of tortured rationalizations, but you refuse to think clearly and objectively. You can’t.

3. Defeat. Addictions destroy willpower. You know you are an addict when you are trying to escape your distress with the very thing that brought you your distress. And when you are in that spiral, you are stuck forever — down and down and down and down.

Sin in general operates like that. When you think disobedience to God is going to bring freedom, the very act that promises freedom is taking the freedom. The very act that you think is putting you in the driver’s seat of your life is taking you out of the driver’s seat of your life.

Playing With Fire

The Bible defines sin as craving something more than God. Sin is making something moreimportant than God. If you’re just religious occasionally, if God is on the outskirts of your life, that is the essence of sin, and that sin grows.

Jonathan Edwards says sin turns the heart into a fire. Just as there has never been a fire that said, “Enough fuel, I’m fine now,” so there has never been a sinful heart that said, “I have had enough success. I’ve had enough love. I’ve had enough approval. I’ve had enough comfort.” Oh, no. The more fuel you put into the fire, the hotter it burns, and the hotter it burns, the more it needs, the more oxygen it is sucking and the more fuel it requires.

And this is the heart of the fire. Next time you are crabby, or grumpy, or irritable, or scared to death, or in the pits, ask yourself: What am I telling myself would make me happy if onlyI had it? There is an if only at the bottom of this. Whatever is your if only, that becomes your slave master. It destroys your will.

This explains how lies necessitate other lies. Envy necessitates more envy. Racism necessitates more racist thoughts. Jealously necessitates more jealous thoughts. Bitterness necessitates more bitter thoughts. In the beginning when you first tell a lie you still have an appetite for the truth, but it won’t take long. Sin is a power. And the things you crave become your slave masters because in your heart those things burn with this idea: if only. Everything would be fine if only I had that. This creates a suction in your life. The more you throw in, the more it wants.

Winning the Firefight

If you are a Christian and you are dealing with enslaving habits, it’s not enough to say, “Bad Christian, stop it.” And it is not enough to beat yourself up or merely try harder and harder and harder.

The real reason that you’re having a problem with an enslaving habit is because you are nottasting God. I’m not talking about believing God or even obeying God, I’m saying tasting —tasting God.

The secret to freedom from enslaving patterns of sin is worship. You need worship. You need great worship. You need weeping worship. You need glorious worship. You need to sense God’s greatness and to be moved by it — moved to tears and moved to laughter — moved by who God is and what he has done for you. And this needs to be happening all the time.

This type of worship is the only thing that can replace the little if only fire burning in your heart. We need a new fire that says, “If only I saw the Lord. If only he was close to my heart. If only I could feel him to be as great as I know him to be. If only I could taste his grace as sweet as I know it to be.”

And when that if only fire is burning in your heart, then you are free.

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The Depression Defying Power of Preaching to Yourself

The depressed self tries to take over. Don’t listen to him. Talk to him. Yes, those who fear for your stability may think your depression means you’re crazy. Risk confirming their suspicions by talking to yourself! You have Psalm 42’s permission.

In his classic work Spiritual Depression, Martyn Lloyd-Jones reflects on Psalm 42 and advises thusly:

Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself? Take those thoughts that come to you the moment you wake up in the morning. You have not originated them, but they start talking to you, they bring back the problems of yesterday, etc. Somebody is talking. Who is talking? Your self is talking to you. Now this man’s treatment was this; instead of allowing this self to talk to him, he starts talking to himself. “Why art thou cast down, O my soul?” he asks. His soul had been depressing him, crushing him. So he stands up and says: “Self, listen for a moment, I will speak to you. . . .”

The main art in the matter of spiritual living is to know how to handle yourself. You have to take yourself in hand, you have to address yourself, preach to yourself, question yourself. You must say to your soul: “Why art thou cast down”—what business have you to be disquieted? You must turn on yourself, upbraid yourself, condemn yourself, exhort yourself, and say to yourself: “Hope thou in God”—instead of muttering in this depressed, unhappy way. And then you must go on to remind yourself of God, Who God is, and what God is and what God has done, and what God has pledged Himself to do. Then having done that, end on this great note: defy yourself, and defy other people, and defy the devil and the whole world, and say with this man: “I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance, who is also the health of my countenance and my God.”

The depressed person must defy his depressed self. Stop listening; start talking. Don’t blather. Don’t mumble. Take hold of yourself and preach! Proclaim glad tidings of great joy. (This is not the same as positive thinking or “word of faith” theology’s false doctrine of the tongue’s power. That is magic. This is preaching the sufficiency of Christ.) Tell yourself that you are loved by God, that Christ has died in your stead, that the Spirit lives in you, consecrating you to God and guaranteeing your salvation. Inform yourself that Jesus is your defense attorney, that he pleads his blood in response to every charge brought against you. Tell your depression that its days are numbered, and even if it should—God forbid—last till your dying breath, it will thus be vanquished for all eternity while you escape to everlasting joy. That’s thumbing your nose at it! It won’t win. Christ won, so Christ will. You will outlast your depression, because Christ in you, the hope of glory, will outlast it.

Most of us have a tape that plays in our head. The tape is set to repeat, and its accusatory message loops over and over. The tape may play a message from the Devil or perhaps something that has burdened us since childhood. I have a tape that plays in my head every now and then, something that comes from the neuroses of my childhood, my desire for significance, and my timidity. Your tape may say any of the following:

  • You can never be forgiven.
  • God doesn’t love you.
  • Jesus didn’t die for you.
  • You aren’t smart enough to trust Jesus.
  • You aren’t holy enough to trust Jesus.
  • You are the failures of your parents.
  • You are the failures of your children.
  • You are your failures.

Our devilish accuser and our accusatory self are very innovative. They hear from us what would be the most crushing thing to hear, and that is what they record for us to listen to.

My tape says this: You are only as good as what you haven’t done.

This toxic message wrecked my inner life as a child. I would achieve or express talent, but it never seemed good enough. The voice inside always asked, “But what else? Is that it? That’s the best you can do?” This voice has been with me a very long time. It plays sometimes at a whisper, sometimes at full volume, at inopportune moments. When I have made a mistake as a parent, as a husband, as a pastor, it may blare in my ear without warning. It says “so what?” about any success or affirmation I have had; it asks “what else?” It tells me that I am only as good a parent, a husband, a pastor, or a Christian as my failures in these areas.

Since my moment of gospel wakefulness, the tape plays much less often, but when it does, I know just what to do with it. I do what you ought to do when your tape plays. Don’t press pause. Press eject. Remove the tape, drop it to the ground, and crush it under the heel of Christ, who is your righteousness.

Don’t listen to your tape anymore. Don’t trust your own reasoning. You can’t trust yourself when you are depressed. Richard Sibbes wrote a powerful little meditation for the depressed and the discouraged called The Bruised Reed, in which he tells us:

We must not judge of ourselves always according to present feeling, for in temptations we shall see nothing but smoke of distrustful thoughts. Fire may be raked up in the ashes, though not seen. Life in the winter is hid in the root.

You can’t trust depression, no matter how “reliable” it is. Defy yourself by believing God is doing something in and through you that you can’t see. Gospel yourself!

Your proclamation to yourself may sound something like this:

My soul is cast down within me;

therefore I remember you

from the land of Jordan and of Hermon,

from Mount Mizar. (Ps. 42:6)

The psalmist is remembering something else now. He remembers times of God’s closeness. He remembers God’s historic faithfulness. He remembers the land of Jordan, where the river gives lush land, where the Israelites crossed from wandering to the land of promise. He remembers the land of Hermon, the pearly snow-capped summit, a height of heights. He remembers Mount Mizar, a smaller range, perhaps a place of exile and comfort. Whether these memories are personal recollections of places of intimacy with God or general recollections of God’s goodness to his people, the climax of God’s historic and localized act of faithfulness is this: the cross of Christ.

Is your soul cast down within you? Remember God, therefore, from the land of Judea and of Jerusalem, from Mount Calvary.

Always remember the cross, which is the historical verification of God’s justice and mercy. The cross is proof that God loves sinners.

Jared C. Wilson, Gospel Wakefulness, Chapter 8.

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Can’t Say “Can’t” in Christ

Most Christians who need counseling have one thing in common.  Every observant pastoral counselor has noticed this all-but-universal characteristic: their conversation is studded with the word “can’t.”  This common trait may be explained in various ways.  Some might suppose that it is indicative of a basic weakness or inability that underlies their other problems.  This explanation leads to the conclusion that these are people who constitutionally, or for some other reason, really can’t do what God requires.  That is, of course, an explanation that accepts the counselee’s view that he is helpless.  It also renders the counselor helpless, you will notice.

But there’s another explanation of this phenomenon: the biblical explanation is that men “cop out” on their responsibilities and fail to accomplish their tasks because of sin.

Paul allows no Christian to escape by the use of the word “can’t.” He writes:

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. (1 Corinthians 10:13)

If indeed God never sends trials heavier than a Christian can bear, the Christian has no right to protest, “I can’t.”  If God has sent it, he can take it!  If God has required it, he can do it!  Even though the trials we face are not unique in their basic designs, the detailed form they take, the intensity with which they come, and the point in life at which we must face them, are all tailor-made to each individual child of God, and, don’t forget, God is the tailor!  No trials or temptations hang too long on us.  They fit us precisely.  God never allows the Devil to tempt a Christian beyond his ability to withstand, provided that he does so in God’s way, by means of God’s resources and not his own.  The book of Job stands as a sturdy witness to this promise.

But you protest – “I don’t think I could stand firm for my faith before a firing squad as other Christians have.”  You may be correct.  But you do not now have to face a firing squad.  The promise is not that you will have strength to meet tomorrow’s problem today, but only that, when it comes, God will provide the needed wisdom and courage to do so.  Often the strength comes in the doing….

Given the grace of God, given your knowledge of God’s Word, given your present state of sanctification, given the resources of the Holy Spirit within, there is no trial into which God calls you that is beyond your ability to withstand.  Instead of saying “can’t,” you should say, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

This is an important principle to grasp…. The Bible is able to equip every Christian fully for every emergency in life.  To fail to use God’s gracious provision of the Scriptures in which lie the principles needed for a life of godliness is to misrepresent God to unbelievers.  It is no less than a slander against the One who died for sins on the cross and who, if He did that for us, will also freely give us all things necessary for life and godliness.  Indeed, those who do not know Christ are repelled daily by Christians who live and act in the spirit of the word “can’t.”

Paul neither ignores the severity of your problem nor minimizes it when he says you can endure it; he simply tells the truth about God and about you.  And if you doubt him, then remember that he was careful to preface this promise with the assurance that God’s Word is as certain as His own faithfulness: “God is faithful who will not allow you to be tried beyond what you are able to endure.”

Christian wife, your home can be different.  Young man, you can help your behavior when you are out alone with girls.  Businessman, you can meet that irate customer tomorrow.  Shut-in, you can overcome the feeling of loneliness and uselessness that seems to be driving you to despair.  Whatever the problem, through Jesus Christ, you can.  So, go ahead and prove to yourself and those all around you that God’s promise is true.

Jay Adams, Christ and Your Problems, 23-26.

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The Love of Ignorance is the Path to Destruction

As Satan has his device to destroy gracious souls, so he has his devices to destroy poor ignorant souls, and that sometimes, By drawing them to esteem ignorance, and to neglect, slight, and despise the means of knowledge. Ignorance is the mother of mistake, the cause of trouble, error, and of terror; it is the highway to hell, and it makes a man both a prisoner and a slave to the devil at once. Ignorance unmans a man; it makes a man a beast, yes, makes him more miserable than the beast which perishes. (Ignorant ones have this advantage—they have a cooler hell.) There are none so easily nor so frequently captured in Satan’s snares—as ignorant souls. They are easily drawn to dance with the devil all day, and to dream of supping with Christ at night. ‘My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.’ Hosea 4:6. ‘You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God.’ Matthew 22:29.

Remedy (1). The first remedy against this device of Satan is, seriously to consider, That an ignorant heart is an evil heart. ‘Without knowledge the mind is not good’ (Prov. 19:2). As an ignorant heart is a naughty heart, it is a heart in the dark; and no good can come into a dark heart—but it must pass through the understanding: ‘And if the eye be dark, all the body is dark’ (Matt. 6:22). A leprous head and a leprous heart are inseparable companions. Ignorant hearts are so evil that they let fly on all hands, and spare not to spit their venom in the very face of God, as Pharaoh did when thick darkness was upon him.

Remedy (2). The second remedy against this device of Satan is, to consider, That ignorance is the deformity of the soul. As blindness is the deformity of the face, so is ignorance the deformity of the soul. As the lack of fleshly eyes spoils the beauty of the face, so the lack of spiritual eyes spoils the beauty of the soul. A man without knowledge is as a workman without his hands, as a painter without his eyes, as a traveler without his legs, or as a ship without sails, or a bird without wings, or like a body without a soul.

Remedy (3). The third remedy against this device of Satan is, solemnly to consider, That ignorance makes men the objects of God’s hatred and wrath. ‘It is a people who err in their hearts, and have not known my ways. Therefore I swear in my wrath, they should never enter into my rest’ (Heb. 3:10, 11). ‘My people are a people of no understanding; therefore he who made them will have no mercy on them’ (Is. 27:11). Christ has said that he will come ‘in flaming fire, to render vengeance on them that know not God’ (2 Thess. 1:8). Ignorance will end in vengeance. When you see a poor blind man here, you do not loathe him, nor hate him—but you pity him. Oh! but soul-blindness makes you abominable in the sight of God. God has sworn that ignorant people shall never come into heaven. Heaven itself would be a hell to ignorant souls. They must needs err that know not God’s ways, yet cannot they wander so wide as to miss of hell. ‘My people are destroyed for want of knowledge; because you have rejected knowledge, I will reject you’ (Hosea 4:6). Chilo, one of the seven sages, being asked what God had done, answered, ‘He exalted humble men, and suppressed proud ignorant fools.’ The Catholic Church says that ignorance is the mother of devotion—but the Scripture says, it is the mother of destruction.

Remedy (4). The fourth remedy against this device of Satan is, to consider, That ignorance is a sin that leads to all sins. All sins are seminally in ignorance….  Sin at first was the cause of ignorance—but now ignorance is the cause of all sin. ‘Swearing, and lying, and killing, and stealing, and whoring abound,’ says the prophet, ‘because there is no knowledge of God in the land.’ There are none so frequent, and so impudent in the ways of sin, as ignorant souls; they care not, nor mind not what they do, nor what they say against God, Christ, heaven, holiness, and their own souls. ‘Our tongues are our own, who shall control us?’ ‘They are corrupt, and speak wickedly concerning oppression: they speak loftily. They set their mouth against the heavens; and their tongue walks through the earth. Have all the workers of iniquity no knowledge? who eat up my people as they eat bread, and call not upon the Lord?’ ‘Therefore, pride is their necklace, and violence covers them like a garment. Their eyes bulge out from fatness; the imaginations of their hearts run wild. They mock, and they speak maliciously; they arrogantly threaten oppression. They set their mouths against heaven, and their tongues strut across the earth. They say—’How can God know? Does the Most High know everything?’ Look at them—the wicked!’ Psalm 73:6-12

Thomas Brooks (1608—1680), Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices, 157-159.

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