Friends, I have no intention of summarizing each chapter of the venerable Thomas Brooks’ Precious Remedies of Satan’s Devices. Nor, do I pretend to improve upon or enhance the subject matter he has so masterfully expounded in his book. So when I write concerning some of the things from therein, it will simply be to highlight and promote it. My commentary should be brief and unprofound, but will hopefully spur folks onto reading the precious armory of Puritan works that we have neglected since the time of the Reformation.
SATAN’S DEVICES TO DRAW THE SOUL TO SIN
Device I To present the bait and hide the hook; to present the golden cup, and hide the poison; to present the sweet, the pleasure, and the profit that may flow in upon the soul by yielding to sin, and by hiding from the soul the wrath and misery that will certainly follow the committing of sin. By this device he took our first parents: ‘And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: for God doth know, that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened; and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil’ (Gen. 3:4-5). Your eyes shall be opened, and you shall be as gods! Here is the bait, the sweet, the pleasure, the profit. Oh, but he hides the hook,—the shame, the wrath, and the loss that would certainly follow!
Upon reading Brooks here I’m reminded of Christ’s admonition to the disciples concerning temptation (Matthew 26, Mark 14, and Luke 22). “Watch and pray that ye enter not into temptation.” I have often heard this misquoted, and have most likely misquoted it myself, as “Watch and pray that ye fall not into temptation.” There ought to be such an hatred of sin within us that we strive to not even enter into temptation. We are foolish to think that we can play the let’s-see-how-close-to-the-edge-I-can-get-without-falling-off game without putting ourselves in great danger.
There are providential times where we are placed under times of testing. This accomplishes a few things. If we are victorious and stand despite the temptation, the Lord develops within us greater perseverance. From this perseverance flows gratitude for God’s work in always “[making] a way to escape” (1 Cor 10:13). If we fail and fall under temptation, it will serve to humble us, shame us, and teach us why we failed . . . driving us back to the Gospel. Either we were not hating our sin enough or we were depending too much on our own “remedies” to escape temptation. Needless to say, there is a far difference between being providentially placed under testing and flirting with temptation.
Jesus tells us to watch and pray that we wouldn’t even enter into it, much less falter under it. Satan’s wiles are persuasive and strong. Satan’s stratagem are tricky and they morph according to our spiritual growth and maturity. Rather than strive with his trickiness and ingenuity in deception, why not rather flee from temptation, clinging to the holiness and strength of Christ for our protection?! YES, there will be times when temptation is unavoidable. YES, there will be times when we’re not looking for opportunities to sin but will be nonetheless thrusted therein. But when it need not be so, why would we flirt with so deadly a snake that is sin?
It is not a sign of maturity that one thinks himself strong enough to enter into temptation and show that he may overcome it. Rather, it is a sign of immaturity and ignorance as the power of temptation and sin, even to those who have been redeemed by our Great Creator. It is a sign of maturity that a Christian fear temptation, flee from it, and cling to Christ, praying as directed “Lead [me] not into temptation, but deliver [me] from evil!” It is a sign of maturity that a Christian come to terms with what he is: a sinner saved by grace, still in need of Christ’s intercession, intervention, and deliverance from temptation. I leave you with Brooks’ first remedy to this device:
Remedy (1). First, Keep at the greatest distance from sin, and from playing with the golden bait that Satan holds forth to catch you; for this you have (Rom. 12:9), ‘Abhor that which is evil, cleave to that which is good.’ When we meet with anything extremely evil and contrary to us, nature abhors it, and retires as far as it can from it. The Greek word that is there rendered ‘abhor,’ is very significant; it signifies to hate it as hell itself, to hate it with horror.