What does Scripture teach when under Spiritual Attack? If you're are a member of a post-modern society, you are not going to like the answers. Scripture describes an endless Sisyphean effort required to bear the burden of sin: 1) Small sins have brought the greatest wrath of God, 2) Giving way to a lesser sin makes way for a greater sin, 3) It is sad to defy God for a trifle, 4) The most danger is often in the smallest sin, 5) Saints chose to suffer greatly rather than defy the least sin, 6) The soul cannot stand under the guilt and weight of sin and 7) There is more evil in the least sin than in the greatest affliction.
Book Review: When I first learned about Thomas Brooks, the Puritan preacher, I was overwhelmed by his spiritual maturity and the authority of his insights. However, I also realized that because it was written in an old style of English, most of the message would be lost on a post-modern audience …the very people who need to hear his words the most! Therefore, I decided to undertake a massive book review project, reviewing each chapter individually and “translating” the key ideas into a format suitable for a popular audience. All these techniques of Spiritual Warfare are adapted from Thomas Brook’s book “Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices” first published in 1652, now available through Puritan Paperbacks (see the Paid Link Below).
Device #3: Indulging in Lesser Sins
Satan persuades us that something is such a little sin that you may commit it without danger to your soul. This device may be the most difficult for the post-modern audience to accept. It may trigger passionate feelings that lead to a complete rejection of Christianity. “Fire and brimstone” preachers went out of vogue long ago because the demand for rejection of all sin appears as a Sisyphean task that is impossible to accomplish.
Aren’t we free of the burdens of Mosaic law through Jesus Christ? Let’s see what Jesus had to say about this subject.
Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.
Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 27: 17-20 NIV)
Through Jesus Christ we are indeed free from Mosaic law. Through faith, and not works, we receive our salvation as a gift from God. However, by no means does that imply that it is acceptable to use our freedom to commit even the smallest sin:
How do we experience this device today?
You may not have committed murder, but Jesus tells us that you will be subject to judgment if you are even angry with someone (Matthew 5:22 NIV).
You may never have committed adultery, but Jesus says that even if you look at someone lustfully, you have committed adultery in your heart. He explains that it would be better to gouge out your eye than for your whole body to go to hell (Matthew 5:27-29 NIV).
Over half of marriages end in divorce. Jesus taught that divorce is the same as adultery except for cases involving sexual immorality (Matthew 5:31-32 NIV).
We are not to swear oaths at all; not by heaven, nor by the earth, nor by your head. Simply say “yes” or “no” because anything else comes from the evil one (Matthew 5:34-36 NIV).
Remedy 1: Consider that small sins have brought the greatest wrath of God. The least sin is contrary to the law of God, the nature of God, the being of God, and the glory of God. We need to understand that when the horrors and terror of war, crime, and economic collapse descend upon us, their cause is the compounded effect of all the sins we have committed that appeared little to our eyes. If we were not blinded by Satan, we could not help but see it.
Remedy 2: Understand that giving way to a lesser sin makes way for greater sin. If we yield to a small sin, won’t Satan see that as an opportunity to tempt us with a bigger one? Sin has an encroaching nature. It creeps in on the soul by degrees, step-by-step, until we are mired in it. Satan will first draw us to have unclean thoughts, then into unclean looks, followed by unclean words, and ultimately into unclean deeds. When a person begins to sin, there is no telling where it will stop. People typically drift from folly to folly, evil to evil, until their souls are ripe for eternal misery.
Remedy 3: Can you feel how sad it is to defy God for a trifle? Some sins are so small that we are barely even tempted by them, but most people don’t understand that the smaller the temptation, the greater the sin. Think of it this way, how much worse is it to betray a spouse, a child, or a lifelong friend over something meaningless and trivial. Was that relationship worth so little to you that you would throw it away over nothing? In the same way, you will displease your best and greatest friend when you yield to His enemy.
Remedy 4: When you consider risk, remember that the most danger is often in the smallest sin. Large sins tend to startle the soul into resisting or repenting them. While little sins tend to hide in the soul and breed, working secretly and indiscernibly, until they grow so strong they cut your throat. If we fail to notice them and neglect the heavenly help available to combat them, then like a virus, they may grow so strong the medicine is too weak for the disease. So many people are betrayed and killed eternally by the little sins they nourished in their own hearts.
Remedy 5: Saints chose to suffer greatly rather than commit the least sin. History is full of examples of victorious spiritual warriors who have chosen extreme consequences rather than commit the smallest sin. Whether it is refusing to kneel to an idol, obey an unlawful mandate, or pay homage to something other than God; some have decided instead to suffer the worst torments that devils and man can devise. They would rather burn on earth than betray God and burn forever.
Remedy 6: The soul cannot stand the guilt and weight of sin. When God finally opens the sinner’s eyes, they see at last the horrid filthiness and abominable vileness in a way that sweeps away the post-modernist rationalizations and leaves only inconsolable dread and regret. Once some understand that they are unworthy of God, they lose the ability to delight in any earthly comfort and wish instead for their own annihilation.
Remedy 7: There is more evil in the least sin than in the greatest affliction. This truth is revealed in the severe treatment Almighty God dealt to his only Son. It should make us tremble to consider that God would not spare the only totally innocent soul from drinking the full dregs of his terrible wrath for all sins; past, present, and future. Christ suffered and died for the very sin you think too tiny to matter.
Dear reader, if you find these exhortations to abstain from sin too heavy a burden to bear, do not turn away from God in despair. Instead, take comfort in knowing that the best way to understand these remedies is to view them in context with Satan’s Device #4.