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  • Samuel at Gilgal

    This year I will be sharing brief excerpts from the articles, sermons, and books I am currently reading. My posts will not follow a regular schedule but will be published as I find well-written thoughts that should be of interest to maturing Christian readers. Whenever possible, I encourage you to go to the source and read the complete work of the author.

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MATERIALISM!

Bishop J. C. Ryle:

J.C.-Ryle
Greatness and riches are a perilous possession for the soul. Those who seek to have them, know not what they seek. They lead men into many temptations. They are likely to fill the heart with pride, and to chain the affections down to things below.

For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. (1 Corinthians 1:26 ESV)

And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” (Mark 10:23 ESV)

Do we envy the rich and the great? Does our heart sometimes say, “oh, that I had their place, and rank, and substance?” Let us beware of giving way to such feelings. The very wealth which we admire may be gradually sinking its possessors down into hell. A ‘little more money’ might be our ruin. Continue reading

A TEMPTATION OF THE CHURCH

The Preacher without HolinessRussell Moore:

“There is always the temptation for the church to reach people without addressing the issue of sin.” 

HERE IS THIS SIN

philpotJ. C. Philpot:

Here is this sin,
Save me from it!
Here is this snare,
Break it to pieces!
Here is this lust,
Lord, subdue it!
Here is this temptation,
Deliver me out of it!
Here is my proud heart,
Lord, humble it!
Here is my unbelieving heart,
Take it away and give me faith—give me submission to Your mind and will. Take me as I am with all my sin and shame and work in me everything well pleasing in Your sight!

WHERE THE POWER OF SIN IS BROKEN

John PiperJohn Piper:

“Faith stands or falls on the truth that the future with God is more satisfying than the one promised by sin. Where this truth is embraced and God is cherished above all, the power of sin is broken. The power of sin is the power of deceit. Sin has power through promising a false future. In temptation sin comes to us and says: “The future with God on his narrow way is hard and unhappy, but the way I promise is pleasant and satisfying.” The power of sin is in the power of this lie.” (Future Grace, 326)

TEMPTATION

John OwenJohn Owen:

And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’” Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him. (Matthew 4:9-11 ESV)

Our great Pattern hath showed us what our deportment ought to be in all suggestions and temptations. When the devil showed Him “all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them,” to tempt Him withal, He did not stand and look upon them, viewing their glory, and pondering their empire…. but instantly, without stay, He cries, “Get thee hence, Satan.” Meet thy temptation in its entrance with thoughts of faith concerning Christ on the cross; this will make it sink before thee. Entertain no parley, no dispute with it, if thou wouldst not enter into it.

A LITTLE YIELDING

Thomas_MantonThomas Manton:

If you yield to Satan in the least, he will carry you further and further, till he has left you under a stupefied or terrified conscience: stupefied, till thou hast lost all thy tenderness. A stone at the top of a hill, when it begins to roll down, ceases not till it comes to the bottom. Thou thinkest it is but yielding a little, and so by degrees are carried on, till thou hast sinned away all thy profession, and all principles of conscience, by the secret witchery of his temptations.

Temptation

Thomas WatsonThomas Watson:

Satan’s time of tempting is usually after an ordinance; and the reason is, because then he thinks he shall find us most secure. When we have been at solemn duties, we are apt to think all is done, and we grow remiss, and leave off that zeal and strictness as before; just as a soldier, who after a battle leaves off his armor, not once dreaming, of an enemy. Satan watches his time, and when we least suspect, then he throws in a temptation.

Temptation

John OwenJohn Owen:

Our great Pattern hath showed us what our deportment ought to be in all suggestions and temptations. When the devil showed Him “all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them,” to tempt Him withal, He did not stand and look upon them, viewing their glory, and pondering their empire…. but instantly, without stay, He cries, “Get thee hence, Satan.” Meet thy temptation in its entrance with thoughts of faith concerning Christ on the cross; this will make it sink before thee. Entertain no parley, no dispute with it, if thou wouldst not enter into it.

Temptation and the Christian

John A. BroadusEven true Christians may grow presumptuous, and indulge in a false confidence in themselves. When we first became Christians, our conscience may have been very tender. However, it is sadly true that even a Christian may grow callous by degrees and develop an arrogant spirit. John A. Broadus pens these words:

Therefore, let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation, he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. (1 Corinthians 10:12-13 ESV)

Here is a text, which speaks to our need. Though temptation comes, we do not understand it and are often not prepared for it. Through Paul, God is giving us guidance to help us. . . .

We recognize here that God suffers us to be tempted, “God is faithful; he will not suffer you to be tempted above that you are able.” Then God suffers us to be tempted. This is a distinction which does not amount to a great deal, I confess, and yet which is useful and helps us somewhat in relieving the dark mystery of evil in this world, that God permits evils of which he is not the author. … He suffers us to be tempted. The apostle James says that God tempts no man. “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man.” The word “tempt,” as you all know – and the same thing is true of the words in the original language – signifies “to test,” “to put to the test” – as when you test a gun. This testing may be done with a good or an evil design. A man may put a great charge of powder into a gun for the purpose of ascertaining whether it is strong and can stand the test! or he may do it for the purpose of ascertaining whether it is weak, for the purpose of destroying it. So human character may be tested with friendly feelings, to try its strength, or with hostile feelings, in order to show its weakness and to destroy it. In the bad sense of the term, God tempts no-body, but he suffers us to be tempted.

Shall we inquire why he does this? We might say that temptation is one of the conditions of existence in this world. We cannot see how it would be possible to live here without being tempted. Jesus Christ himself, who was sinless, who came into this world to live but a little while and to die, endured temptation, not once merely, but many times-tempted to do what was wrong in the desert, tempted in the garden to shrink from what he had undertaken to do. Temptation is a condition of our existence.

Moreover, temptation is a discipline. That is one of the reasons why we may say God permits us to be tempted. Here again we have the example of Jesus. We are told in the Epistle to the Hebrews that Jesus learned from what he suffered. His human nature needed discipline like ours, and it found discipline in temptation as we do. He learned from what he suffered, and thus being made perfect he became the author of eternal salvation. … God suffers us to be tempted. (“Lessons for the Tempted”)

Avoiding Temptation

Quoting John Owen:

Our great Pattern hath showed us what our deportment ought to be in all suggestions and temptations. When the devil showed Him “all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them,” to tempt Him withal, He did not stand and look upon them, viewing their glory, and pondering their empire…. but instantly, without stay, He cries, “Get thee hence, Satan.” Meet thy temptation in its entrance with thoughts of faith concerning Christ on the cross; this will make it sink before thee. Entertain no parley, no dispute with it, if thou wouldst not enter into it.

Triumph Over Temptation

George Whitefield

Quoting George Whitefield:

The riches of His free grace cause me daily to triumph over all the temptations of the wicked one, who is very vigilant, and seeks all occasions to disturb me.

Thomas Watson On Temptation

Thomas Watson

Quoting Thomas Watson:

Satan’s time of tempting is usually after an ordinance; and the reason is, because then he thinks he shall find us most secure. When we have been at solemn duties, we are apt to think all is done, and we grow remiss, and leave off that zeal and strictness as before; just as a soldier, who after a battle leaves off his armor, not once dreaming, of an enemy. Satan watches his time, and when we least suspect, then he throws in a temptation.

The Nature Of Temptation

Calvin: Do you believe in the devil? You know, a supreme evil being dedicated to the temptation, corruption, and destruction of man?

Hobbes: I’m not sure that man needs the help.

What is temptation? Often people today think of “temptation” as the desire to have just one more piece of chocolate or maybe the inability to resist a delicious looking dessert. Temptation has been trivialized in our society to refer to impetuously wishing to do something which you think of as naughty but not serious. The Bible refers to temptation very seriously because it views temptation as the desire to oppose the moral law of God in act or attitude.

One more piece of chocolate pie may be a problem for you but does it really compare to the consequences of rebelling against God? Richard Sibbes makes an important point when he writes, “Satan gives Adam an apple, and takes away Paradise. Therefore in all temptations let us consider not what he offers, but what we shall lose.” Temptation offers the illusion of happiness but its consequences yield only everlasting torment.

Yet, all are tempted. Do not be discouraged when this happens, pray that God would hold on to you so that you do not yield and fall. Jesus told his disciples, “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matthew 26:41) Once temptation is yielded to, it grows in power. What makes this so difficult for many of us is that we truly don’t want to discourage temptation completely. We deceive ourselves into believing we are in control. We think we can toy with sin as a cat does a mouse; only too late do we realize that temptation is really the cat.

Paul writes, “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13) If you honestly and firmly determine to do your best to avoid temptation and pray with all your heart for God’s deliverance, He is faithful to provide you with the means to stand against Satan’s clever devices.

If you are a Christian, the Holy Spirit of God is living within you to guide and to help you resist the temptation to sin. However, if you are a Christian who often neglects church attendance, reading the Scriptures, and prayer – your resistance will be weak when the trial of temptation comes upon you. Don’t rush to put your hand into the fire and then pray not to be burned, but pray, rather, to have the wisdom to understand fire and keep your hand out of it.

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