“The only possible attitude to out of control desire is a declaration of all-out war. I hear so many Christians murmuring about their imperfections and their addictions and their shortcomings. And I see so little war ! (murmur, murmur, murmur, why am I this way ?) MAKE WAR !”
– John Piper
For the last several months or so, the subject of spiritual warfare has really been on my mind. Through Bible reading and other sources, I’ve been trying to get a better grip on what Satan is up to and how I can combat it. Two of my blogger friends recently highlighted this subject on their own sites. Amy Letinsky posted a great list of books that deal with Satan and demons a little while back, and she also pointed me in the direction of a series done by Mark Driscoll on spiritual warfare, which was very helpful. And Claire over at One Passion One Devotion just posted a video by John Piper that encourages us all to make war on the enemies that seem to drag us down so often. With that in mind, I set out to explore this in a little more detail.
I came across a book recently by one of the Puritans called Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices by Thomas Brooks. In this book, Brooks describes nearly 40 of Satan’s devices, or ways he attacks us, and answers that by providing us with over 170 “remedies” or methods to think of to counterattack. It also includes the most extensive table of contents I’ve ever seen, which is worth the price of the book alone as an outline. In addition, Brooks provides an appendix that includes ten “special helps” against Satan and also, he describes the characteristics of false teachers. There’s quite a bit here to chew on !
One section I found very helpful was what Brooks calls “Satan’s Devices to Keep Saints in a Sad, Doubting, Questioning & Uncomfortable Condition”. Brooks outlines how Satan may keep us in despair over our sin to the point that we become totally discouraged. Brooks explains why this is so dangerous – “He who minds not Christ more than his sin can never be thankful and fruitful as he should.” Brooks then takes it a step further and suggests that we need to repent of being this discouraged by sin, and again he tells us why – “Ah ! did precious souls know and believe the truth of these things as they should, they would not sit down dejected and overwhelmed under the sense and operation of sin. God never gave a believer a new heart that it should always lie a-bleeding, and that it should always be rent and torn in pieces with discouragements.”
Having said that, this is no feel-good book. Brooks warns his readers throughout of the seriousness of spiritual warfare. He pleads with us not to take temptation lightly – “To venture upon the occasion of sin, and then to pray, ‘Lead us not into temptation’, is as to thrust your finger into the fire, and then to pray that it might not be burnt.” And Brooks also encourages us to look at sin as we know we will look back on it hours from now, and then realize how much harder it is to repent than to have just steered clear of the temptation and sin to begin with. Brooks then provides us with this vivid picture if we decide to take his words lightly – “For to be tormented without end – this is that which goes beyond the bounds of all desperation. Ah, how do the thoughts of this make the damned to roar and cry out for unquietness of heart, and tear their hair, and gnash their teeth, and rage for madness, that they must dwell in ‘everlasting burnings’ forever !”
As you can tell, this is not light reading 🙂 But it’s necessary reading. We all need to be on our watch constantly, to be aware of Satan’s schemes, for always “sin is crouching at the door”. Meditating on Ephesians 6:10-20 is of course a great place to start the battle against spiritual warfare. But this densely packed volume from Brooks would make a nice addition to your bookshelf and a great accessory to your spiritual armor.