Becoming Wise to the Enemy

6 04 2008

 “Christ, the Scripture, your own hearts, and Satan’s devices are the four prime things that should be first and most studied and searched.  If any cast off the study of these, they cannot be safe here, nor happy hereafter.” 

These words are found in the opening of Thomas Brooks’ Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices. As I read those words, I thought to myself “I have spent most of my time studying the first three but I’ve thought very little of the fourth” and the further I get into this wonderful Puritan treasure, the more evident my ignorance of the Enemy’s schemes becomes apparent.

Some might think (as I used to) “Do we really need to spend time thinking about what the Enemy is trying to do?  Should we really spend that much time thinking about Satan? Can’t I just focus on the first three and be OK?” 

Listen to Brooks’ response to why we should engage in such study:

1- “Because Satan has a greater influence upon men, and higher advantage over them (having the wind and the hill, as it were), than they think he has, and the knowledge of his high advantage is the highway to disappoint him, and to render the soul strong in resisting, and happy in conquering.”  

2- “[this study’s] exceeding usefulness to all sorts, ranks and conditions of men in the world. Here you have salve for every sore, and a plaster for every wound, and a remedy against every disease, especially those that tend most to the undoing of souls, and the ruin of the State.”

3- Because as we focus on studying the second (the Scripture) it will show us that we must be knowledgeable about the fourth.  Do you remember when Paul charged the Corinthians to forgive their repentant brother (2 Cor. 2)?  Do you remember his warning that accompanied the charge? He compels them to act “so that no advantage would be taken of us by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his schemes” (2 Cor. 2:11).  Could that be said of us, that we are not ignorant?  Brooks makes this text his key launching point and foundation for all that follows.  And this text in 2 Corinthians is just one example of Scripture calling us to be wary of our Enemies devices (for other examples see Ephesians 6:11; 2 Tim. 2:25-26; 1 Peter 5:8).

4- And finally, as Brooks points out, all true Christians experience Satan’s schemes: “He is but a titular Christian [a Christian in title only] that has not personal experience of Satan’s stratagems, his set and composed machinations, his artificially molded methods, his plots, darts, depths, whereby he outwitted our first parents, and fits us a pennyworth still, as he sees reason.”  All true Christians have experienced his attack, but can we all see it coming? 

This is why such a study is important and why I’m beginning to see this wonderful little book as a precious gift to the Church.

As we continue through the month, I’ll be posting from some of the sections of the book that resonated most with me and try to share the practical ways I’m apply the truth our dear Puritan brother is teaching.  

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3 responses

7 04 2008
Bob

Ryan,
You might enjoy Screwtape letters as an interesting study in the wiles of the evil one. There is a lot of depth in some of the tactics of the other side shared through this tongue and cheek dialogue between an upper and lower demon.

Bob

7 04 2008
Ryan

Thanks for the suggestion, Bob. I read Mere Christianity and Screwtape Letters as a teenager, but I’ve been thinking lately that I’d like to go back and re-read them (as well as the Chronicles of Narnia, which I read as a kid). Randy Alcorn takes Lewis’ idea and gives it a bit of a twist in Lord Foulgrin’s Letters and The Ishbane Conspiracy. In the middle of letters back and forth between demon mentor and mentee (like in Screwtape) he puts narrative so you can see the tactics of the enemy being applied through the story. Both those books are good reads as well.

8 04 2008
Bob Allen

Dave and I were talking the other day about books we read together when he was much younger. One was a children’s version of Pilgrim’s progress which modernizes the classic. In another age, Pilgrim’s Progress was the most read book aside from the Bible (I think the time would have been from 20’s through the 50’s. When you look at the reading list of leaders from a generation ago, this book was very often included.
Anyway, appreciate reading your thoughts.

In His hands,
Bob

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