I’ve said it a lot lately – read the Puritans. Wow. What a wealth of spiritual encouragement and perspective. The latest gem I read was “Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices” by Thomas Brooks, written in 1652.
In non-Puritan speak that means “The most common tricks Satans uses to try to trip you up spiritually and how to fight back.” Obvious things like drawing the soul to sin, keeping the soul from spiritual disciplines, keeping our souls in a sad, doubting, or questioning condition, etc. The whole book is helpful and I encourage you to read all of it – it is a very accessible Puritan work. Packed full of encouragement, instruction, and of course…conviction.
However, one of the most helpful sections is the last part of the Appendix – “Ten Special Helps and Rules Against Satan’s Devices.” None of this is shocking or innovative. It’s stuff we all know already but need constant reminders of. So….here is a reminder.
- Walk by rule. Meaning – live your life by the conviction of the truth of the Bible and its worldview. The “rule of faith” that keeps and protects us from the Devil’s snares.
- Don’t grieve the Holy Spirit. Meaning – we need His empowerment, and sin takes that away temporarily.
- Strive more for heavenly wisdom. Meaning – wisdom is the application of knowledge. We don’t want knowledge just for knowledge’s sake, it puffs up. We want to live in such a way as to apply that Scriptural knowledge in every day life.
- Resist Satan. Meaning – spiritual warfare is very simple. “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7 ESV). Stand up to him. Say NO to temptation. No magic spells. No rebuking the enemy. No binding him. Just don’t give in.
- Strive to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Meaning – pursue those activities that fill your heart with God. “Therefore, labour more to have hour hearts filled with the Spirit, than to have your heads filled with notions, your shops with wares, your chests with silver, or your bags with gold; so shall you escape the snares of this fowler, and triumph over his plots.”
- Keep humble. This one needs no explanation. God gives grace to the humble. “The devil hath least power to fasten a temptation on him that is most humble.”
- Always keep watch. Meaning – watch your life and doctrine closely. (1 Tim 4:16). Our enemy is always watching probing for weakness, so should we constantly keep watch. “Shall Satan keep a crafty watch, and shall not Christians keep a holy watch?”
- Keep your communion with God. Meaning – practice those spiritual disciplines that bring you near to God. Bible reading, prayer, meditation, church attendance and service, etc. “Communion with God furnisheth the soul with the greatest and choices arguments to withstand Satan’s temptations. Communion is the result of union.”
- Don’t fight in your own strength. Meaning – Satan is a dog on leash, but he still bites. We can’t defeat him on our own, apart from Jesus who dealt him a death blow at the cross.
- Be much in prayer. Prayer, in the words of Piper, is “a war-time walkie talkie.” Let’s wield the weapon of war correctly. “Prayer is a shelter to the soul, a sacrifice to God and a scourge to the devil.”
No advanced spiritual warfare here. Just every day common means of his grace. The Puritans remind us how much we need them more every day indeed.