Christians, know God’s Word. If you know it not, Satan can (and will) use it against you. This is one reason it’s so very important to have a good intake of Scripture each day. Blessed be the Lord God Who has given us His Word that we may have the sword by which we mortify sin and resist Satan!
Many times as Christians, we can become overwhelmed by the weight of our sins. We know in our minds that Christ has purchased our redemption, but sorrow looms heavily over our hearts. In desperation we confess and re-confess sins of which we’ve already repented, hoping to take the sorrow away. This brings us to a state of paralysis. At times even the Word of God may be wrongfully used to bring us into further spiritual depression.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that the Bible is ever responsible for wrong in our own lives. What I do mean is that even Satan knows the Scriptures. He can twist them as the Lord permits, and use them against our already broken and repentant consciences…in hopes that we will become further dejected and unfruitful for a time in the work of God’s kingdom. We can see an example of Satan using Scripture to his own end in an attempt to make the Lord Jesus Christ Himself sin!
Matthew 4:1 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3 And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” 4 But he answered, “It is written,
“‘Man shall not live by bread alone,
but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple 6 and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written,
“‘He will command his angels concerning you,’
“‘On their hands they will bear you up,
lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”
7 Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” 8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9 And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” 10 Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written,
“‘You shall worship the Lord your God
and him only shall you serve.’”
11 Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.
Note, I wrote that the devil attempted to do so. But the Lord Jesus, the Living Word of God, would have none of it and turned the tables on “that old serpent, the devil.” We ought always verse ourselves in Scripture, confessing our sin before its reading, asking for illumination, and reading with our hearts mindful of the over-arching theme of Scripture: Christ the Lord.
So, we see that Satan can use Scripture (albeit twisted) to battle against our hearts, even though we’re already repentant and contrite toward God for our sins. He also messes with our thoughts, in attempts to pose as the Holy Spirit convicting and reproving. However, there is a great difference between the work of the Holy Spirit in the saint’s conviction and the darts of Satan in the paralyzing of the saint’s running of the race to which he’s been called.
Thus, I’d like to share a few thoughts from the grand ole’ Puritan of old, William Gurnall. This is excerpted from his The Christian in Complete Armour, particularly volume 1 from the Banner of Truth’s modernized and abridged version. I know that this remains a very helpful reminder when Satan is having his way with my own thoughts about my sin, though I have confessed and repented of them to the Lord already. Please read and benefit from the words of this wise Puritan divine.
II. SATAN EXAGGERATES THE SAINTS’ SINS
His [the devil’s] aim is to discredit not the sins but the saints. Here his chief tactic is to deliver his accusations as if they are an act of the Holy Spirit. He knows a charge from God’s cannon wounds deeply; therefore, when he accuses a conscientious Christian, he forges God’s name on the missile before he fires it. Suppose a child were conscious of gravely displeasing his father, and some spiteful person, to harass him, wrote and sent him a counterfeit letter full of harsh and threatening accusations, copying the father’s name at the bottom. The poor child, already painfully aware of his sins and not knowing the scheme, would be overcome with grief. Here is real heartache stemming from a false premise – just the kind of thing Satan relishes.
Satan is a clever investigator. He closely observes the relationship between you and God. Sooner or later he will catch you tardy in some duty or faulty in a service. He knows you are conscious of your shortcomings and that the Spirit of God will also show distaste for them. So he draws up a lengthy indictment, raking up all the aggravations he can think of, then serves this warrant on you as though sent from God. This is how Job’s friends reacted to his trouble. They gathered up all the evidence of his infirmities to use against him, implying thy had been sent by God to declare him a hypocrite and denounce him for it.
While Satan is a master inquisitor, we know that not all our rebukes come from him. God’s Word clearly states that ‘Whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth’ (Heb 12:6). How, then, can we discern the spiteful accusations of Satan from the loving reprimands of God and His Spirit?
Try this test: If such rebukes contradict any prior work of the Spirit in your soul, they are Satan’s and not the Spirit’s. Satan’s purpose in emphasizing your sin is to try to unsaint you and persuade you that you are only a hypocrite. ‘Oh,’ hisses Satan, ‘now you have shown your true colors! See that horrid stain on your jacket – what other saint ever commited such a sin! Your whole life is a sham! God wants nothing to do with such a desperately wicked person as you.’
And with a single blow Satan dashes all in pieces. The whole mansion of grace which God has been building many years in our soul and all the special conmforts the Holy Spirit has brought are blown down by one gust from his malicious mouth. He leaves your life a shambles, and tells you it is your own fault.
Do not despair. Pacify your fears with this precious truth: Once the Spirit of God has begun a sanctifying work, causing you to hope in His mercy, He never will nor can bring contrary news to your soul. His language is not ‘yea and nay’, but ‘yea and amen’ for ever. If you play the prodigal, God will frown and chide you roundly for your sin, as He did David through Nathan: ‘Thou are the man!’ (2 Samuel. 12:7). Yet not a word is heard from Nathan telling David to unsaint himself and call in question the work of God in his soul. That prophet had no such commission form the Lord. He was sent to make David mourn for his sin – not from his sin to question his state of grace, which God had so often put beyond doubt.
Besides planting seeds of doubt about the sanctifying work of the Spirit, Satan often sends rebukes of the conscience that deny the riches of God’s grace. When you find your sins represented to you as exceeding either the mercy of God’s nature or the grace of His covenant, this comes from a jealous suitor, the devil. The Holy Spirit, as Christ’s intermediary, woos sinners to embrace the grace of the gospel. Would He say anything that would spoil the courtship or lower Christ’s esteem in the eyes of His beloved? Surely you must know where such lies orginate! When you hear someone compliment another person as wise or good, then at last come in with a but that dashes all, you know he is no friend but some sly enemy who, by seeming to commend the person, really desires to discredit him. And so, when you find God represented to you as merciful and gracious, but not to such a great sinner as you; strong and mighty, but not able to save someone like you, you can say, ‘Be gone, Satan, your speech betrays you. This is not a message sent to me by the Lover of my soul!’
Good words from William Gurnall. Blessings to each of you today!