You might find this hard to believe, but it is good that Spiritual Attacks cause you anxiety: 1) It is the worst judgment to be abandoned to sin, 2) Consider that God is as just as He is merciful, 3) Sins against mercy will bring the worst judgments, 4) God’s special mercy is reserved for those that both trust and fear Him and, 5) Saints looked upon God’s mercy as the most powerful argument to preserve them from sin.
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 #5: Presenting God to the Soul as Only Merciful
There is a scene from the movie Talladega Nights where the lead character, played by Will Ferrell, argues with his family about what Jesus they should pray to. Ricky Bobby insists that they pray to “little baby Jesus” because he prefers Christmas stories, and doesn’t like the disturbing stories about Christ’s suffering, death, and resurrection. In this example, it is clear that he misses the real point. In the same way, post-modern people are typically fed only with images of a kind and benevolent God. We know that God forgives sins, and that He is merciful; however, Scripture also makes clear that God will pour out His wrath in a manner that should inspire both fear and trembling.
Behold, the Lord maketh the earth empty, and maketh it waste, and turneth it upside down, and scattereth abroad the inhabitants thereof.
And it shall be, as with the people, so with the priest; as with the servant, so with his master; as with the maid, so with her mistress; as with the buyer, so with the seller; as with the lender, so with the borrower; as with the taker of usury, so with the giver of usury to him.
The land shall be utterly emptied, and utterly spoiled: for the Lord hath spoken this word.
The earth mourneth and fadeth away, the world languisheth and fadeth away, the haughty people of the earth do languish.
The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant.
Therefore hath the curse devoured the earth, and they that dwell therein are desolate: therefore the inhabitants of the earth are burned, and few men left. (Isaiah 24: 1-6 KJV)
How do we experience this device today?
The movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” starring James Stewart and Donna Reed is considered one of the greatest movies of all time. In order to save businessman George Baily, Angel 2nd Class Clarence Odbody shows George flashbacks of his life. When he helps George understand the worth of his life, a child is heard saying, “Every time a bell rings, and angel gets his wings.”
In “Bruce Almighty” the character of Bruce Noland, played by Jim Carey, is a disgruntled television reporter who mostly blames God for his troubles. The beeper on Bruce’s phone rings repeatedly until he finally answers it and persuaded to meet with God in the form of a janitor, played by Morgan Freeman. God is a calm and benevolent gentleman who allows Bruce to have all of His powers.
In the television series “Touched by an Angel” characters played by Roma Downey, Della Reese, and John Dye encounter struggling people and convince them that God hasn’t forgotten them and the He loves them.
Remedy 1: It is the worst judgment to be abandoned and allowed to sin for any reason. When God lets the path to hell be smooth and pleasant, that is hell on this side of hell, and a dreadful sign of His indignation. God does not intend good for this person, it is a sign of His rejection. A soul given up for sin is a soul ripe for hell. You should humbly beg, therefore, that God never gives you up to the desires of your own heart. It is better to patiently endure whatever burdens, afflictions, temptations, and reproaches are laid upon you.
Remedy 2: Consider that God is as just as He is merciful. It was for justice that God cast the angels out of heaven and bound them in chains of darkness until the final Day of Judgment. It was for justice that he evicted Adam from paradise, destroyed the creatures of the earth with flood, and rained fire down on Sodom. But above all, witness God pouring out the fullness of His wrath upon his own beloved son, when Jesus bore all of our sins.
Remedy 3: Understand that sins against will bring the worst judgments. Mercy comes first, but justice comes after. Mercy is Alpha, Justice is Omega. People are given a chance to surrender to God’s mercies, but if those are rejected and despised, then God returns in righteous anger. Jesus prophesied of Jerusalem that because they rejected Him, that “Not one stone will be left on another; every one will be thrown down” (Mark 13:2 NIV). This prophecy was fulfilled forty years later when the Roman emperor Vespasian and his son Titus inflicted incredible horrors upon the populace when they sacked the city in AD 70.
Remedy 4: While God’s general mercy is applied to all things, his special mercy is reserved for those that both trust and fear Him. God’s nature is accurately described as merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness. But we must remember that these merciful attributes are conditional, “From everlasting to everlasting, the Lord’s love is with those who fear Him” (Psalms 103:17 NIV). When Satan attempts to draw you to sin by presenting God as only merciful, the trick is to make you think you can sin with impunity because anything you do will be simply be forgiven. But God’s special mercy is for those who love Him and strive to keep his commandments.
Remedy 5: The Apostle Paul asks us, “Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means!” (Romans 6:1-2). There is nothing that makes a person less like a saint, and more like Satan, than to argue that God’s mercy allows for sinful freedom. This is the devil’s logic, and in whoever you find it, you also find a lost soul. Remember that the Saints looked upon God’s mercy as the most powerful argument to preserve them from sin, not as permission to sin.