Helps Against Temptations
– Thomas Brooks (1608-1680).
1. Walk by rule : He that walks by rule walks most safely, most honourably, most sweetly. When men throw off the Word, then God throws off them, and then Satan takes them by the hand, and leads them into snares at his pleasure. He that thinks himself to be too good to be ruled by the Word, will be found too bad to be owned by God; and if God do not or will not own him, Satan will by his strategems overthrow him. They that keep to the rule, shall be kept in the hour of temptation, Rev 3:10, “Because thou hast kept the word of My patience, I also will keep thee in the hour of temptation.”
2. Take heed of grieving the Holy Spirit: It is the Spirit of God that is best able to discover Satan’s plots against us; it is only He that can point out all his snares, and enable men to escape those pits that he has digged for their precious souls. Be sure the Spirit be not grieved by your enormities, nor by your refusing the cordials He sets before you, nor by slighting and despising His gracious actings in others.
3. Labour for more heavenly wisdom: Though there is no fear of knowing too much, there is much fear in practicing too little. There are many knowing souls, but there are but a few wise souls. There is oftentimes a great deal of knowledge where there is but little wisdom to improve that knowledge. Ah! souls, you have need of a great deal of heavenly wisdom to see where and how Satan lays his snares, and wisdom to find out proper remedies against his devices, and wisdom to apply those remedies against his devices, and wisdom to apply those remedies seasonably, inwardly and effectually to your own heart, that so you may avoid the snares which that evil one has laid for your precious souls
4. Make present resistence against Satan’s first motions: It is safe to resisit, it is dangerous to argue. Eve argues, and falls in paradise; Job resists, and conquers upon the dunghill. He that will play with Satan’s bait, will quickly be taken with Satan’s hook. The promise of conquest is made over to resisting, not to arguing: “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). Ah, souls! were you better at resisting than at disputing, your temptations would be fewer.
5. Labour to be filled with the Spirit: The Spirit of the Lord is a Spirit of light and power; and what can a soul do without light and power “against spiritual wickedness in high places?” (Eph 4:12). That is a sweet word of the apostle, “ Be filled with the Spirit” (Eph 5:18); ie labour for abundance of the Spirit. He that thinks he has enough of the Holy Spirit, will quickly find himself vanquished by the evil spirit. Labour more to have your hearts filled with the Spirit, than to have your heads filled with notions, or 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 all his plots.
6. Keep humble: A humble heart will rather lie in the dust than rise by wickedness, and sooner part with all than the peace of a good conscience. Humility keeps the soul free from many darts of Satan’s casting, and snares of his spreading; as the low shrubs are free from many violent gusts and blasts of wind which shake and rend the taller trees. The devil has least power to fasten a temptation on him that is most humble.
7. Engage not against Satan in your own strength, but be every day drawing new strength from the Lord Jesus: Undoubtedly, that soul that engages against any old or new temptation without new strength, new influences from on high, will fall before the power of the temptation. You may see this in Peter; he rested upon some old received strength – “Though all men should deny Thee, yet will not I,” and therefore he falls sadly before a new temptation, denying Christ thrice, that had thrice appeared gloriously to him.
Ah! souls! remember this, that your strength to stand and overcome must not be expected from grace received, but from the renewed influences of heaven. You must lean more upon Christ than upon your duties; you must lean more upon Christ than upon your experience; you must lean more upon Christ than upon your graces, or else Satan will carry you into captivity.
8. Be much in prayer: Prayer is a shelter to the soul, a sacrifice to God and a scourge to the devil. There is nothing that renders plots fruitless like prayer; hence says Christ, “Watch and pray that ye enter not into temptation.”
The best way to be safe and secure from all Satan’s assaults is, with Nehemiah and the Jews, to watch and pray, and pray and watch. By this means they became too hard for their enemies, and the work of the Lord did prosper sweetly in their hands. Satan always keeps a crafty and malicious watch, ‘seeking whom he may devour.’ Shall Satan keep a crafty watch, and shall not Christians keep a holy spiritual watch?