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TEXT: II Corinthians 2:11b
SUBJECT: Precious Remedies #30
Tonight we come to the end of our long study of the Puritan classic, Precious Remedies Against Satan's Devices. For thirty weeks, we've identified the cunning ways Satan and found ways to overcome them.
Last week we began the general advice for resisting the devil and pursuing holiness. Five "helps" were provided:
1. "Walk by rule" or obey the Bible.
2. Don't "grieve the Holy Spirit".
3. "Labor for heavenly wisdom".
4. Resist Satan now--not later!
5. "Be filled with the Spirit".
Have you done these things the last seven days? You ought to, for Thomas Brooks didn't write them to fill pages and I haven't taught them to justify my salary. They can do our souls good. But not if they're listened to only--or taught either. They have to be practiced. It is not "the hearers of the Law who are justified, but the doers of the Law". So, let's do it.
Tonight we come to the last five "helps". If you want to grow in grace, you must
1. "Keep humble".
Humility helps us in two ways. First, it makes the devil's work much harder. If you're proud, you'll be quick to take offense and hard to make up with. When Satan sees this, he'll bring an annoying person into your life. You'll soon be mad or bitter and "Give place to the devil".
Proud people are open to many other sins too. Think of envy. I don't like what you have because I deserve it more than you do. Or worry. "I wonder what people are thinking about me?" Boasting, of course, is the result of pride. So is contempt or looking down on others. So is self-righteousness. Even gross sins come from pride, for the arrogant think they can get away with things that others can't.
Pride leaves us wide open to Satan. When Saul was "little in his own eyes, the LORD anointed him king over Israel". But when he grew proud, God sent "an evil spirit to trouble him".
The other way humility helps us is that it brings the assistance of God. "God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble". You cannot resist the devil without grace. And you cannot have grace without humility. Many verses say the same thing, for example:
1. "The humble He guides in justice and the humble He teaches His way" (Psalm 25:9).
2. "Thus says the High and Lofty One who inhabits eternity, whose name is holy, I dwell in the high and holy place with him who has a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble and to revive the heart of the contrite ones" (Isaiah 57:15).
Look at the promises: God will guide and teach the humble; He will dwell with them and revive them. With His guidance and teaching, presence, and reviving grace, we can "resist the devil". But without them, what can we do? "Without Me you can do nothing..."I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me..."
"Keep humble". That is the first "help".
2. "Keep a close, strong and constant watch".
"A secure soul is already an ensnared soul--says Brooks--and "the soul that will not watch against temptation will surely fall into temptation".
Is he right? Yes he is. The Bible says so directly and by example. We have Mark 13:48: "Watch and pray lest you enter into temptation". Or I Corinthians 10:12: "If any man thinks he stands, let him take heed, lest he fall".
Peter is our best warning. Did he love the Lord Jesus? Yes he did. Was he a brave man, willing to stand up for Christ? He was. Yet, those hours spent sleeping insteading of "watching and praying" cost him dearly. He denied the Lord three times with an oath.
This duty is not for some people, but for everybody. "What I say unto you, I say unto all, watch" (Mark 13:37).
Others can help you watch. Pastors, for example, "watch for your souls" and other believers must "look diligently" too. But there is a certain watching nobody can do but you. I can't keep your heart; the deacons can't examine your soul; the church can't see what's inside you. Apart from God, only you can do this. So do it. Not once or twice or every year or two, but "Keep on watching".
"Watch" is the second "help".
3. Keep up your communion with God".
Thomas Brooks: "Communion with God furnishes the soul with the greatest and choicest arguments to withstand Satan's temptations".
This is a very good point. Close fellowship with God puts things into perspective. It makes fornication look dirty; it makes materialism look vain; it makes selfishness look unworthy. These things are true--whether you're in touch with God or not. But if you're not, you can't see the truth.
All joys and pleasures are in God. We know this, of course--we can quote the verses to prove it. But when we drift away from Him, it seems that happiness can be found elsewhere. "The lusts of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life" are so attractive, till you find God. Then they appear to be what they are--"the passing pleasures of sin".
"Communion with God--says the Puritan--"is a shield upon the land, an anchor at sea, a sword to defend you and a staff to support you. Therefore, keep up your communion".
4. "Do not [fight] Satan in your own strength, but be every day drawing new virtue and strength from the Lord Jesus".
The man who fights Satan on his own is, in fact, obeying the devil. Think of the Pharisees who thought discipline and tradition could secure their souls. Who served Satan better than they? They were worse than the thieves and prostitutes, who at least knew they were doing the devil's business and were ashamed of it.
If you're to "resist the devil", you must depend on Christ. You must plead with Him for His help. You must take His advice as He reveals it to you in His Word. Pray, read the Bible, go to church--yes, of course, do these things! But never depend on them. Never! The Brazen Serpent healed no one; Christ healed them.
Brooks: "You must lean more upon Christ than upon your duties; you must lean more upon Christ than upon your [experiences]; you must lean more upon Christ than upon your graces, or else Satan will lead you into captivity".
5. "Be much in prayer".
The Puritan calls prayer "A shelter to the soul, a sacrifice to God, and a scourge to the devil".
Through prayer we receive what God has for us. And what's that? "All things which pertain to life and godliness".
If Satan is deceiving you, pray for wisdom. If he is overpowering you, pray for stregth. If he's confusing you, pray for guidance. If he's ganging up on you, pray for God with whom one is a majority.
In your prayers, admit your weakness. God know how weak you are, but wants to be sure you know how weak you are. Lift up His greatness. Again, He knows how great He is, but wants you to remember it too. Remind Him of Satan's power and malice. You not praying against a gentle and loving creature--but the devil who's name means "Adversary". Tell Him how your victory over Satan is, in fact, His victory! "We are more than conquerers through Him who loved us". Tell Him that His glory is bound up in your success.
"Not unto us, O LORD
Not unto us;
But unto Your name give
glory, for Your mercy's
and Your truth's sake".
`Pray in faith. Pray in humility. Pray with zeal. Pray with patience. But however you pray, just pray! Don't fall to Satan for lack of praying!
Whatever else is said of us, let's be sure this is not: "We have not because we ask not".
Thomas Brooks was a learned man and a veteran pastor with a heart for his people. His book has been preserved for over 300 years. Do you think that is accidental? Or Providential? If you think the latter, then remember God gave you Puritan for the good of your soul.
Won't you take his advice. Insofar as it agrees with Scripture, you're bound to take it. So take it. And God give you victory over Satan's every "device". For Christ's sake. Amen.
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