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Temptation

(10 posts)

“Give not place to Satan”

Wednesday··2007·06·20
Thus Satan leads poor creatures down into the depths of sin by winding stairs, that let them not see the bottom whither they are going. He first presents an object that occasions some thoughts; these set of fire the affections, and they fume up into the brain, and cloud the understanding, which being thus disabled, Satan now dares a little more declare himself, and boldly solicit the creature to that it would even now have defied. Many who at this day lie in open profaneness, never thought that should have rolled so far from their profession; but Satan beguiled them, poor souls, with their modest beginnings. O Christians, give not place to Satan, no, not an inch, in his first motions. He that is a beggar and a modest one without doors, will command the house if let in. Yield at first, and thou givest away thy strength to resist him in the rest; when the hem is worn the whole garment will ravel out, if it be not mended by timely repentance. —William Gurnall, The Christian in Complete Armour (Banner of Truth Trust, 2002), 1:77.

“till he hath not left thee any tenderness”

Wednesday··2007·07·11 · 1 Comments
Is Satan so subtle? O then, think not to be too cunning for the devil, he will be too hard for thee at last. Sin not with thoughts of an after-repentance; it is possible that thou meanest this at present, but, dost thou think, who sits down to play with this cheater, to draw out thy stock when thou pleasest? Alas, poor wretch! he has a thousand devices to carry thee on, and engage thee deeper, till he hath not left thee any tenderness in thy conscience. As some have been served at play, intending only to venture a shilling or two, yet have by the secret witchery in gaming, played the very clothes off their back before they had done,—O how many have thus sinned away all their principles, yea, profession itself, that they have not so much as this cloak left, but walk naked to their shame! [They are] like children, who got into a boat, think to play near the shore, but are unawares by a violent gust carried down to the wide sea. O how know you that dally with Satan, but that at last you may (who begin modestly) be carried down to the broad sea of profaneness? Some men are so subtle to overreach and so cruel when they get men into their hands, that a man had better beg his bread than borrow of them. Such a merchant is Satan, cunning to insinuate, and get the creature into his books, and when he hath him on the hip, [there is] no mercy to be had at his hand than the lamb may expect from the ravenous wolf. —William Gurnall, The Christian in Complete Armour (Banner of Truth Trust, 2002), 1:84.

“By them is thy servant warned.”

Monday··2007·07·16
Be careful to read the Word of God with observation. In it thou hast the history of the most remarkable battles that have been fought by the most eminent worthies in Christ’s army of saints with this great warrior Satan. Here thou mayest see how Satan hath foiled them, and how they recovered their lost ground. Here you have his cabinet-counsels opened. There is not a lust which you are in danger of, but you have it described; not a temptation which the Word doth not arm you against. It is reported that a certain Jew should have poisoned Luther, but was happily prevented by his picture which was sent to Luther, with a warning from a faithful friend that he should take heed of such a man when he saw him, by which he knew the murderer, and escaped his hands. The Word shows thee, O Christian, the face of those lusts which Satan employs to butcher thy precious soul. ‘By them is they servant warned,’ saith David, Ps. xix. 11. —William Gurnall, The Christian in Complete Armour (Banner of Truth Trust, 2002), 1:85.

“Satan temps … when God pleaseth”

Wednesday··2007·10·10
Satan temps not when he will, but when God pleaseth, and the same Holy Spirit which led Christ into the field, brought him off with victory. And therefore we find him marching in the power of his Spirit, after he had repulsed Satan, into Galilee, Lu. iv. 14. When Satan temps a saint he is but God’s messenger, 2 Co. xii. 7. “There was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger Satan to buffet me.” So our translation. But rather as Beza, who will have it in [the nominative case] the messenger Satan, implying that his was sent of God to Paul; and indeed the errand he came about was too good and gracious to be his own, lest I should be exalted above measure. The devil never meant to do Paul such a good office, but God sends him to Paul, as David sent Uriah with letters to Joab; neither knew the contents of their message. The devil and his instruments, both are Gods instruments, therefore the wicked are called his sword, his axe; now let God alone to wield the one and handle the other. He is but a bungler that hurts and hackles his own legs with his own axe; which God should do, if his children should be the worse for Satan’s temptations. Let the devil choose his way, God is for him at every weapon. If he will try it by force of arms, and assault the saints by persecution, as the Lord of hosts he will oppose him. If by policy and subtlety, he is ready there also. The devil and his whole council are but fools to God. Nay, their wisdom, foolishness, cunning and art, commend everything but sin. The more artificial the watch, the picture, &c., the better; but the more wit and art in sin the worse, because it is employed against an all-wise God, that cannot be outwitted, and therefore will in the end but pay the workman in greater damnation. “The foolishness of God is wiser that men;” yea, than the wisdom of men and devils, that is, the means and instruments which God opposeth Satan withal. What weaker than a sermon? Who sillier than the saints in the account of the wise world? Yet God is wiser in a weak sermon, than Satan is in his deep plots, wherein the state heads of a whole conclave of profound cardinals are knocked together—wiser in his simple ones, than Satan in his Ahitophels and Sanballats. And truly God chooseth on purpose to defeat the policies of hell and earth by these, that he may put such to greater shame, 1 Co. i. 21. How is the great scholar shamed to be baffled by a plain countryman’s argument? Thus God calls forth Job to wrestle with Satan and his seconds—for such his three friends showed themselves in taking the devil’s part—and sure he is not able to hold up the cudgels against the fencing-master, who is beaten by one of the scholars. God sits laughing while hell and earth sit plotting, Ps. ii. 4; “He disappointeth the devices of the crafty,” Job v. 12, he breaketh their studied thoughts and plots, as the words import, in one moments pulling down the labors of many year’s policy. Indeed as great men keep wild beasts for game and sport, as the fox, the boar, &c., so doth God Satan and his insturments, to manifest his wisdom in the taking of them. It is observed, that the very hunting of some beast affords not only pleasure to the hunter, but also more sweetness to the eater. Indeed God, by displaying of his wisdom in the pursuit of the saint’s enemies, doth superadd a sweet relish to their deliverance at last. He brake the heads of leviathan in pieces, and gave him to be meat to his people. After he had hunted Pharaoh out of all his forms and burrows, now he breaks the very brains of all his plots, and severs him up to his people, with the garnishment of his wisdom and power about. —William Gurnall, The Christian in Complete Armour (Banner of Truth Trust, 2002), 1:101–102.

Is Same-Sex Attraction Sinful?

Tuesday··2012·10·02 · 3 Comments
Right now, if you’re a Christian, you’re thinking—or, at least, I hope are—that the answer is obvious: of course same-sex attraction is sinful. But that answer is not as universally obvious among Christians as you might think. It is becoming increasingly popular to acknowledge innate homosexual orientation, even accepting the term “gay Christian,” while maintaining that homosexual acts are sinful. So-called “gay Christians” must therefore remain celibate. As long as they do, their homosexual attraction incurs no guilt. The attraction itself is not sin. At least part of this opinion is based upon equivocation. I say, “Same-sex attraction is sin,” and the other guy replies, “Is it a sin to be tempted? Surely not; so the one who is tempted only sins when he surrenders to the temptation.” Nicely done, very tricky—but not so fast. Of course, I agree that to be tempted is not sin, or Christ himself would be a sinner, but that’s not what I said. I said “attracted,” not “tempted.” Temptation is nothing more than the enticement to have or do something God has forbidden. The store clerk gives me too much change. I can remain silent, keep the money, and get away with it. That knowledge is temptation, but it is not sin. As soon as I want to do it, as soon as I am attracted to dirty money, I sin, even if I overcome the desire and return the money anyway. To be tempted is to be offered a potentially attractive opportunity; to be attracted is to want it. I need to repent of my urge, however momentary, to have that money. When did Eve first sin? Was it when she saw the fruit, or when the serpent enticed her to eat it, or when she actually ate it? It was none of those. Eve sinned when she looked at an object that God had declared off-limits and found it attractive. Jesus teaches just that when he tells us that murder and adultery are only the outward expressions of sin that has already been committed in the mind (Matthew 5:21–22, 27–28). Potiphar’s wife enticed Joseph to sin (Genesis 39:7–18). We do not read of Joseph struggling with his desire to have her. Rather, we read of his repeated refusal to even consider it. Joseph did not sin. Nor did Christ struggle with his desire in the desert. Read his terse answers (Matthew 4:1–11; Luke 4:1–13) to the greatest tempter of all time and see if he ever said, “I’d love to, but I can’t.” It is sin for me to be attracted to other women than my wife, not because they aren’t attractive, but because they are forbidden. Just so, I am not to desire men; it is forbidden. As noted above, the desire is the same as the act. I must repent of my sinful inclinations as well as my sinful acts. How sad and cruel it is to gloss over sin and deny sinners the grace of repentance, which they so desperately need.

Lord’s Day 44, 2013

Sunday··2013·11·03
I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord.” Tremble, and do not sin; Meditate in your heart upon your bed, and be still. —Psalm 4:4 Communing with Our Hearts Philip Doddridge (1702–1751) Return, my roving heart, return, And chase these shadowy forms no more; " />Seek out some solitude to mourn, And Thy forsaken God implore. Wisdom and pleasure dwell at home— Retired and silent seek them there; This is the way to overcome, The way to break the tempter’s snare. And Thou my God, whose piercing eye Distinct surveys each deep recess, In these abstracted hours draw nigh, And with Thy presence fill the place. Through the recesses of my heart My search let heavenly wisdom guide, And still its radiant beams impart, Till all be searched and purified. Then, with the visits of Thy love, Vouchsafe my inmost soul to cheer; Till every grace shall join to prove, That God hath fixed His dwelling there. —Worthy Is the Lamb (Soli Deo Gloria, 2004). Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Please don’t miss worshiping with your local congregation if you can possibly help it. But if you’re in need of a good sermon, try these. Tweets about "sermon from:thethirstytheo" !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0],p=/^http:/.test(d.location)?'http':'https';if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src=p+"://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");

Lord’s Day 47, 2013

Sunday··2013·11·24
I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord.” Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. —Hebrews 4:14–16 In the days of His flesh, He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His piety. —Hebrews 5:7 So then, you will know them by their fruits. —Matthew 7:20 Hymn 125. (C. M.) Christ’s compassion to the weak and tempted. Heb. iv. 15, 16; v. 7; Matt. vii. 20. Isaac Watts (1674–1748) With joy we meditate the grace Of our High Priest above; His heart is made of tenderness, His bowels melt with love. Touch’d with a sympathy within, He knows our feeble frame; He knows what sore temptations mean, For he has felt the same. But spotless, innocent, and pure, The great Redeemer stood, While Satan’s fiery darts he bore, And did resist to blood. He in the days of feeble flesh Pour’d out his cries and tears, And in his measure feels afresh What ev’ry member bears. [He’ll never quench the smoking flax, But raise it to a flame; The bruised reed he never breaks, Nor scorns the meanest name.] Then let our humble faith address His mercy and his power; We shall obtain deliv’ring grace In the distressing hour. —The Psalms & Hymns of Isaac Watts. Hymns and Spiritual Songs. Book I: Collected from the Holy Scriptures (Soli Deo Gloria, 1997). Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Please don’t miss worshiping with your local congregation if you can possibly help it. But if you’re in need of a good sermon, try these. Tweets about "sermon from:thethirstytheo" !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0],p=/^http:/.test(d.location)?'http':'https';if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src=p+"://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");

Is Same-Sex Attraction Sinful? (The Sequel)

Thursday··2014·01·02 · 2 Comments
Once upon a time, I wrote this, probably as a response to something. I don’t remember. Now, once again, the word comes down, from Desiring God this time, that: 1. The Bible explicitly says that impenitent homosexual acts, not homosexual desires, keep a person from inheriting the kingdom of God. “Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 6:9–10). 2. The Bible does not seem to explicitly mention same-sex attraction. It is possible that the “dishonorable passions” in Romans 1:26 could be dealing with SSA, but it’s unclear whether this is a reference to simply experiencing an attraction, or following the attraction into active lusting. 3. Our passions may be disordered by the fall of this creation, and yet be distinct from active sinning. Paul said, “the creation was subjected to futility . . . [and will one day] be set free from its bondage to corruption” (Romans 8:20–21). Even Spirit-filled believers groan under this “futility” and “corruption,” including “dishonorable passions.” “We ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies” (Romans 8:23). Given the above three realities, it seems right to say that while homosexual practice is active sinning, the experience of same-sex attraction need not involve active sinning. John Piper says it like this: It would be right to say that same-sex desires are sinful in the sense that they are disordered by sin and exist contrary to God’s revealed will. But to be caused by sin and rooted in sin does not make a sinful desire equal to sinning. Sinning is what happens when rebellion against God expresses itself through our disorders (“Let Marriage Be Held In Honor,” emphasis added) In other words, although SSA is a disordered desire, owing to the fall and thus rooted in sin and broken by sin, nevertheless experiencing SSA is not in itself an act of sinning. Well, I have said what I have said, and have nothing original to add. However, if I did, I’d like it to be something mature and biblically well-rounded, like this from Pastor Don Green: Is it okay to be attracted to the same gender as long as you don’t have sex? Short answer? No. The sin of homosexuality is more than the external behavior. The disposition toward homosexuality is also sinful. This may surprise you if you have approached Christianity as a series of rules to be kept and going to church on Sunday. But biblical righteousness is far more than avoiding physical sin. Continue reading A Pastor Responds to Desiring God on the Issue of Same-Sex Attraction and listen to a discussion of same with Pastor Green and Pastor Mike Abendroth.

Temptation: A Test of Faith

Tuesday··2014·03·04
Sproul describes the contrasts between the temptations of Adam and Jesus; in short, the temptation of Jesus was much more severe. Yet the two tests were the same in the one way that matters. The respective locations of the tests provide a study in contrasts. Jesus’ temptation took place in a desolate section of the remote hills of the Judean wilderness, a dreadful piece of real estate. The only creatures indigenous to the area were spiders, snakes, scorpions, and a few wild birds. It was rocky, barren, and hot, fit for neither man nor beast. Adam’s test took place in a garden of paradise adorned with lush and glorious surroundings. Where Adam beheld a landscape of floral luxury, Jesus stared at a rock pile. Jesus endured temptation in isolation, in what Soren Kierkegaard called the worst situation of human anxiety, existential solitude. Jesus was utterly alone. Adam was tested while enjoying the help and encouragement of a companion whom God had created for him. Adam was tested in the midst of human fellowship, indeed intimacy. However, Jesus was tested in the agony of deprivation of human communion. Adam was tested in the midst of a feast. His locale was a gourmet’s dream. He faced Satan on a full stomach and with a satiated appetite. Yet he succumbed to the temptation to indulge himself with one more morsel of food. Jesus was tested after a forty-day fast, when every fiber of His body was screaming for food. His hunger had reached a crescendo, and it was at the moment of consuming physical desire that Satan came with the temptation to break the fast. It is the similarity, however, between the tests that is most important for us to grasp. The central issue, the point of attack, was the same. In neither case was the ultimate issue a matter of food; the issue was the question of believing God. It was not an issue of believing in God, but believing God. There was no doubt in Adam’s mind that God existed; he had spent time in face-to-face communication with Him. Jesus was equally certain of God’s existence. The trial centered on believing God when it counted. —R. C. Sproul, Who Is Jesus? (Reformation Trust, 2009), 71–72. Likewise, each and every one of our temptations presents that same test.

Between Doing and Teaching

Monday··2018·10·29
Our senses are the landing ports of our spiritual enemies. How needful is that resolution of holy Job, ‘I have made a covenant with mine eyes!’ When Eve began to gaze on the forbidden fruit with her eyes, she soon began to long after it with her heart. When she saw that it was good for food and pleasant to the eyes (here was the lust of the flesh and lust of the eye) but, above all, a tree to be desired to make one wise, wiser than God would have her be, nay, as wise as God himself. She took of the fruit thereof and gave also unto her husband with her and he did eat. As soon as ever she sinned herself, she turned tempter to her husband. It is dreadful, when those, who should be help-meets* for each other in the great work of their salvation, are only promoters of each other’s damnation. But thus it is. If we ourselves are good, we shall excite others to goodness. If we do evil, we shall entice others to do evil also. There is a close connection between doing and teaching. How needful then is it for us all to take heed that we do not sin any way ourselves, lest we should become factors for the devil and ensnare, perhaps, our nearest and dearest relatives? —George Whitefield, “The Seed of the Woman and the Seed of the Serpent” in Lee Gatiss (Ed.), The Sermons of George Whitefield (Crossway, 2012), 50. * Far be it from me to be pedantic, but this term irritates me. I explained why in this post.

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