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TEXT: II Corinthians 2:11
SUBJECT: Precious Remedies #1
I hope now to begin a study that is Biblical, historical, and practical. Its title is "Precious Remedies Against Satan's Devices". If that rings a bell with you--good! It's meant to. The title is borrowed from Thomas Brooks, who wrote on the subject more than 300 years ago.
Much of what I say will be directly from his book; some of it will be my own remarks. I'm not going to keep saying, "quote, unquote..."Brooks says...Writes the Puritan..." and so on. If you want to untangle his thinking from mine, get the book!
The book is divided into six parts. They are:
1. The devices Satan uses to draw souls into sin.
2. The devices Satan uses to keep souls from holy duties.
3. The devices he uses to keep souls sad and doubtful.
4. The devices he uses to destroy all sorts of men.
5. The devices he uses to keep souls from believing in Jesus Christ.
6. Appendix: Seven marks of false teachers to delude poor souls.
Thomas Brooks died in 1680. I pray, by the Spirit of God, that he "being dead [will] yet speak" to our souls.
The text is fairly simple to understand. Paul tells us that whenever God is at work, Satan is also active to undo it. Some of his "dirty work" is out in the open--as when Paul was stoned at Lystra. Or beheaded at Rome. But not all of Satan's work is so obvious. In addition to the "frontal attack", he also uses "devices" or tricks or cunning strategies.
Some of them, we'll mention tonight; others in the weeks to come, if the Lord permits.
The First Device. To present the bait and hide the hook.
Like a good salesman, Satan puts the best face on his product. He emphasizes the pleasure and profit sin may bring, while ignoring the wrath and misery that must follow.
Examples of this device are commonly found in the Bible, only a few of which I'll mention.
His first temptation was just that. God permitted Adam and Eve to eat from any tree they wanted, but one. For "in the day [they] ate thereof, they would surely die". When the devil comes to Eve, however, he makes no mention of the death that must follow her disobedience! Instead, he "pushes" the beauty of the fruit, its yummy taste, and the Divine wisdom that will come from eating it. On her, the "sales job" worked to perfection! "The woman was deceived" wrote the Apostle.
A second example is the harlot. She entices a young man with these fetching words: "I have spread my bed with tapestry, I have perfumed my bed, let us take our fill of love, my husband is not at home..." and so on. Everything she said--I suppose--is true. But she left some things out, didn't she? She didn't mention he'd be like "an ox to the slaughter, a fool to the stocks, or a bird to the snare". She overlooked "the arrow [that would] strike his liver". She ignored "the strong men wounded by her" and the fact that her "house is the way to hell, descending to the chambers of death".
A third example is drinking. Good wine is "red, sparkling, and smooth". That sounds like a commercial! All good selling points. But the buyer doesn't notice that other things come with it--things like "woe, sorrow, contentions, complaints, wounds without cause, redness of eyes" and more. These aren't advertised.
In each case, the "hook" is "wrath and misery", but the devil's "bait" concealed it.
How do we avoid the lures of Satan? Brooks offers four "remedies". They are:
1. Keep the greatest distance from sin, and from playing with the golden bait that Satan holds forth to catch you.
Romans 12:9: "Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good". "Abhor" is a strong word; it means to find something odious or disgusting; to hate it with horror and to recoil from it.
This means: If you know something tempts you, stay as far away from it as possible. Jay Adams once counseled a young man who was drawn to pornographic movies. He prayed hard against his lusts, he said, but "Every day, when I pass the adult theatre, something pulls me into it". You know what Adams said? "Don't go down that street any more!" What's a few extra yards compared to the loss of your soul?
If you're tempted to rent unedifying films, cut up your "Blockbuster Video" card. You can get to heaven without it! If you're tempted to buy things you can't afford, throw away the catalogues that come in the mail. If you consistently watch too much TV, sell it, "give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven". We tempt God when we pray, "Lead us not into temptation" while walking right into it.
The contrast between Joseph and David could not be greater. When the former was tempted to adultery, he dived out the window to escape it! The latter? Well, he just meant to look a while. But "Lust, when it conceived, brought forth sin, and sin, when it was finished, brought forth death".
Identify your temptation, and "Avoid it, do not travel on it; turn away from it, and pass on".
2. Consider that sin is but a bitter sweet.
Job 20:12-14: "Though evil is sweet in his mouth...yet his stomach turns sour' it becomes cobra venom in him".
Let's face it: Sin provides some pleasure. The trouble is, the pleasure is both mixed and temporary. Mixed, in that, with it there is a sense of guilt and a grieving of God's Spirit. Do you enjoy your sins? Well, sort of; but not quite. There's something in the back of your mind, gnawing away at you. The sin has not satisfied you; it has, in fact, made you less content than you were before you gave into it.
The hollow pleasure sin brings is also short-lived. It doesn't last long, and it results in the opposite of what it promised. The young man in Proverbs thought a quick liaison would feel good. But it didn't! His "flesh and body" were, in fact, "consumed" by the affair.
Think about the true nature of sin. Whether anyone catches you or not, the sweetest sin is "bitter" in the end.
3. Consider that sin will usher in the greatest and saddest losses upon our souls.
The key word is "losses". When we think of the punishment of sin, we usually think of "what will happen to us". Things will happen, of course, bad things. We often forget "What will not happen to us"--the good things we lose through sin.
What are they? How about "fellowship with God"? When we sin willfully and without repentance, we lose that. "If we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another" says the Apostle. Is that worth having?
How about joy? "Restore unto me the joy of Your salvation" cried David. How about peace? Or a clear conscience? Or a good example? Or freedom in prayer? Or the enjoyment of God's Word? These things are worth having. But sin forfeits them till we repent of it.
Naomi knew about the losses sin visits on the soul: "I went down full, but the LORD has brought me back empty".
4. Consider that sin is very deceitful and bewitching.
Is there is anything worse that sinning with a bad conscience? There is. It is: sinning with a good conscience. At first, this is hard to do. You know what you're doing is wrong; for a time you feel guilty. But, if you keep doing it, the guilt becomes less and less noticeable. Then something terrible happens: You begin justifying your sin. You are "hardened by the deceitfulness of sin".
Unless God softens the heart, that must result in apostasy. And nothing could be worse than that. It would be better for the Apostate if he had never been born.
Summary and Close
Satan has his "devices". We mustn't be "ignorant of" them. One of the most common is this: He "presents the bait and hides the hook". We all know this, but how often do we think about it? How often do we look for the hook? God give us the eyes to look for it, to see it, and to turn away from it.
I pray He will do these things, for Christ's sake. Amen.
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