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TEXT: II Corinthians 2:11b
SUBJECT: Precious Remedies #4
With God's blessing, let's continue our study of "Precious Remedies against Satan's Devices". The author is Thomas Brooks, a English Divine, born in 1608. Like the other Puritans, he excelled at practical religion. The goal of this book is to expose the secret workings of Satan that we might live for the glory of Jesus Christ.
A "device" is a trick Satan uses to get us to sin. So far, we've looked at three of them: concealment, false advertising, and extenuation or the lessening of sin. Tonight, the Lord willing, we'll look at a fourth: The use of God's Word.
It seems incredible that God's Word could be employed in so bad a cause. Yet it can be; and has been. The devil once tempted our Lord in this way. Taking Him to the roof of the Temple, he dared our Lord to jump with the promise of Psalm 91
"He shall give His angels charge concerning You, lest you dash your foot against a stone".
Did he get the verses right? He did. Did they apply to Messiah? Yes. But they didn't mean "Throw Yourself down". Never was Satan more fiendish--using the written Word against the "Word made flesh".
He does the same today. Satan uses the Bible to make us sin. How does he do it? The Puritan gives two examples, the first of which is
"Satan draws the soul into sin by presenting the best men's sins".
The Bible is full of holy men. Yet none of them was perfect; some fell into great sin. If you let him, Satan will turn this to his advantage. How? Like this:
1. Got a bad temper? Don't worry about it, so did Moses, James, and John.
2. Like the girls too well? So what? Samson, David, and Solomon did too.
3. Are you scared to do the right thing? No big deal! So was Abraham, Barak, Peter, and Timothy.
4. Got no time for the kids? Neither did Eli or Samuel or David.
Follow the reasoning: Everyone I named was a holy man and is now in heaven. Therefore, Satan argues, you can give into these things too and still be holy and go to heaven when you die. That's the "device". And a very clever one it is. How do we answer it? Thomas Brooks offers three "remedies".
The first is
"Consider the Spirit of the Lord has been as careful to note the saints' rising by repentance out of sin, as he has to note their falling".
This is a bit wordy, but what he means is worth saying: If you want to follow these holy men, by all means, follow them in their repentance, rather than in their sins!
If you're tempted to remain silent when you ought to speak up for Christ, follow Peter's example--by "going out and weeping bitterly" over the shame you feel for your Lord.
If you're tempted to look at another woman, do what David did--Cry out "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me!"
If you're tempted to complain against the Lord, as Job did, imitate his later words instead: "Behold, I am vile! What shall I answer You? I lay my hand over my mouth".
Satan is eager to have us follow the saints into their sins. Better to follow them out of their sins.
The second "remedy" is
"Consider though God will never disinherit His people for their sins, yet He has severely chastised His people for their sins".
Do holy people sin? Of course they do. Do they go to hell for it? No they don't. But they pay dearly in this life for the sins they commit.
Samson can't lay off the Philistine girls. What happens to him? He ends up blind, chained, and doing the work of an ox or a donkey. These sorrows were the direct consequence of his sin.
David does not correct his children. What happens? One son rapes a sister; another son kills the rapist and later overturns his father's kingdom. A third usurps the throne in David's old age and is himself executed by a fourth son. David's sin might have sent him to hell. But God's mercy prevented that. It did not however, get him "off the hook entirely"--did it?
Moses was "the meekest man on earth", but in one angry moment, he lost the privilege of leading God's people into the Land of Promise.
Jonah stubbornly resists God's will. And the Lord gave him "three days and three nights" to think about it--"in the belly of a fish".
Keep this in mind: If you want the sins of Moses or David or Samson or Jonah, you'll get their chastisement too. They weren't pleasant for them; they won't be for you.
The third "remedy" is
"Solemnly consider God's end in recording the falls of His saints".
Why did God put these failures in the Bible? Thomas Brooks knew: "To warn others that stand, to take heed, lest they fall. It never entered into the heart of God to record His children's sins, that others might be encouraged to sin, but that others might look to their standings, and to hang the faster to Christ, and avoid all occasions and temptations that may cause the soul to fall, as others have fallen..."
The reason God allowed David to fall is so that you wouldn't! The reason He let Moses lose his temper is so that you would keep yours! The reason He permitted Peter to deny Him thrice is so that you would "watch and pray".
"Now, these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things, as they lusted" (I Corinthians 10:6).
If there is a sin more monstrous than this one, I don't know what it is! To use God's Holy Word to justify our sins! It makes God "The Author of Sin"--which He says He is not! It "turns the grace of God into lasciviousness and denies the Lord who bought [us]". God save us from this presumption. For Christ's sake. Amen.
I must hurry to Satan's next "device". It's another abuse of God's Word. It is
"To present God to the soul as all mercy".
"Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name. Who forgives all your iniquities". Satan takes this verse (and others like it) and argues, "If God forgives all your sins, why not commit them all?"
Indeed, why not?
The Puritan offers three "remedies", which seem obvious to me, and won't require much time. The first is
"Recall that God is as just as He is merciful".
God is merciful; the Bible teaches this; every believer knows it. What the Bible does not teach is that God is "only merciful". It also teaches that God is just and holy and abhors sin--in His friends no less than in His foes. Keep this in mind the next time you're tempted to take advantage of His goodness. "Judgment must begin at the house of God".
The second "remedy" is
"Consider sins against mercy will bring the greatest judgments upon men".
Think of two husbands: One is married to a witch! She's loud, vulgar, violent, immoral, proud, you name it. The other is married to a woman of grace and beauty and charm and holiness. Each man leaves his wife. Without absolving either man, which is more guilty? And why? The second is because he has sinned against her goodness!
If God were a hard and cruel, we'd be obliged to obey Him--because He is still God. But He's not this way, is He? He is kind and patient and eager to forgive. When we sin against this God--Whose "mercy endures forever" we sin very badly, indeed.
Paul put it this way: "Do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing the goodness of God leads you to repentance?"
His mercy, in short, ought to bind us to Him in love and gratitude.
The third "remedy" is this:
"Consider that God's special mercy is confined to those who are Divinely qualified".
The word "qualified" must be carefully explained. This does not mean God gives mercy to those who deserve it. If He did, no one would have it! It means the mercies of God flow to us through our repentance. It is not that repentance earns His favor--it doesn't! But this is how we receive His mercies, as we turn from our evil ways in sorrow and ask Him to pardon us for Christ's sake.
The mercies of God, therefore, don't encourage us to keep on sinning, but make us return to the Savior who "heals all our backslidings".
I pray they will. For Christ's sake. Amen.
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