What We Should Know
Every year I make it a point to read Thomas Brooks' Precious Remedies Against Satan's Devices. It is one of those texts that is packed with amazing calls to a Gospel vision of life. Too often I get distracted and busied with life, and it is at those moments that I find temptation to fall into sin much stronger. Reading Brooks every year, refocuses me and it reminds of 'the great and precious promises' (2 Pet 1:4) that God has given me in the fight to overcome the world, the flesh, and the Devil. I thought that over the course of the next few weeks (maybe months), I would use the blog to track through my reading of Brooks' work. I won't read a lot each week and if you want to read along, I would love to have some interaction on Facebook or Twitter. You can download a free copy here, or you can purchase a copy from Banner of Truth here. This week, I read 'The Epistle Dedicatory'.
Brooks opens this epistle with four things that we should study and search. He says we should know Christ, the Scripture, our own hearts, and Satan's devices. I find it so interesting that Brooks places Satan's devices on a list of the four prime things that we must know. I don't know of many Christians that would argue with our need to know Christ, the Scriptures, and our own hearts. In fact, I would guess that if you asked Christians to make a list of the four things every Christian needs to make a close study of, those three would be on majority of the lists. However, I am not sure how many people would join in saying that we need to know Satan's devices.
Yet, it makes sense. If we are to grow in our sanctification, we should know the prime enemies that do not want to see us sanctified: the world, the flesh, and the Devil. Brooks hits on the flesh by saying we need to know our own hearts, and I think by looking at Satan's devices he is pointing us to the world and the Devil. If, as Christians, we are to grow into the likeness of Christ, if we are to put to death the old man, if we are walk in Christ, we not only need to know Christ and the Scriptures but we need to know all those that would come against us.
Sun Tzu's The Art of War says that in war one of the most important things is to 'know your enemy'. If we want to win a war, we need to make a thorough study of our enemy. The odd thing about the Christian life is that all too often we are our own enemy. Scripture calls us to put to death our old nature. We are to battle the old man which abides in us. To use the old phrase we must mortify the flesh. We must wage war with that old nature, and to wage war with it we must know it.
So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. - Romans 7:21–23
Brooks notes how it is a failure to know ourselves that Satan then uses to tempt us in our moments of weakness. He says:
Satan loves to sail with the wind, and to suit men's temptations to their conditions and inclinations. If they be in prosperity, he will tempt them to deny God (Proverbs 30:9); if they be in adversity, he will tempt them to distrust God; if their knowledge be weak, he will tempt them to have low thoughts of God; if their conscience be tender, he will tempt to scrupulosity; if large, to carnal security; if bold-spirited, he will tempt to presumption; if timorous, to desperation; if flexible, to inconstancy; if stiff, to impenitency.
We must know Christ, we must know Scripture, we must know ourselves, and we must know Satan's devices. When we know these things, we can rest in the great hope. We can grasp hold of the great and precious promises of our Lord. We can say a hearty 'Amen' with Brooks when we hear him say:
[R]emember this, that your life is short, your duties many, your assistance great, and your reward sure; therefore faint not, hold on and hold up, in ways of welldoing, and heaven shall make amends for all!
Next week we will read the 'A Word to the Reader', the 'Introduction', and 'Chapter One'.