In this episode
- A review of chapters 2-4
- A breakdown of how Thomas Brooks lays out chapter 5
- A relevant comparison to Star Wars
- This episode’s audiobook segment, from chapter 5
- Episode blog post: Unity: The indispensable quality of an unconquerable church
- Podcast introduction: Yabo Obien
- Logo design: Jeff Lyons at Light & Story
- Original music: Makeup and Vanity Set
- Kindle version of Precious Remedies against Satan’s Devices by John Hendryx at Monergism.com
- Text for Precious Remedies provided by GraceGems.org
Welcome back to the Theodio Podcast, I’m your host Dan Kassis.
We’re walking though the book Precious Remedies against Satan’s Devices by Thomas Brooks. Along with a segment of our original audio production of the book, we provide commentary and fresh insight, bringing this work of classic theology to life for you.
We have arrived at chapter 5 of Precious Remedies. Brooks titles this chapter, “Satan’s devices to destroy and ensnare all sorts of ranks of men in the world.” In previous chapters, Brooks has focused on the devil’s particular schemes toward our minds, our hearts, and our actions. Now we zoom out to take a broader view on his attacks upon different kinds of people.
He breaks it down like this
- The great and honorable – people with power, position, and influence. Satan tempts them to seek themselves above everything else, and to oppose those who follow Christ.
- The learned and wise – those with “parts and abilities,” as Brooks put it, beyond the average person. The temptations here lie in pride and self reliance, and denigration of those who lack what they have.
- The saints – the people of God, those chosen to receive grace by faith. Now, you may wonder why Brooks choses this as a category of people when nearly the whole book is about how Satan tempts Christians. But there’s a particular attack he hasn’t yet expressed elsewhere. We’ll come back to that in a minute.
- The poor and ignorant – those who remain in their sin due to lack of knowledge. Brooks writes here not of education generally, or of economic poverty, but of a willful state of cognitive blindness against the truths of God.
Here on the Theodio Podcast, as well as in the accompanying blog post, we will only cover point 3, about the saints of God. Our unabridged, original audio production of Precious Remedies contains the full spoken text of the book. If you sign up for our email newsletter, you’ll know when the book releases, and you’ll be eligible for a special discount. All we need for now is your email address. Sign up on the homepage at theodio.com or at the end of any blog post. Then be sure to answer the confirmation email we send you. It’s that easy.
On with the show
Let’s broadly review what Thomas Brooks has taught us about Satan in the main points of the previous three chapters.
- Chapter 2: Satan tries to lure use into sin through craft, trickery, and deceit.
- Chapter 3: If this doesn’t work he then discourages us from acts of devotion to God through accusations and intimidation.
- Chapter 4: If he can’t trick us into sinning or prevent our devotion, Satan will attack our minds and hearts to keep us sad, doubting God, and questioning our faith and salvation.
Those are powerful weapons. But as we have seen, the equipment God gives us to fight against Satan’s onslaught is more powerful. It protects our minds and hearts. It reminds us of our right standing before God, our salvation through Christ, and our companionship with the Holy Spirit.
An all-out assault
Throughout his book, Brooks has focused on our enemy’s individual campaigns against us. True, these tactics will affect Christ’s body as they affect his children. But until now we haven’t seen a corporate offensive.
That changes in chapter 5. Individually the devil’s objective is to weaken our emotional state, our personal effectiveness, or our obedience. When Satan attacks the church, his goal is outright destruction.
Here’s how Brooks explains the game plan:
By working them first to be cold, and then to divide, and then to be bitter and jealous, and then ‘to bite and devour one another’ (Gal. 5:15).
Paul’s letter to the church in Galatia bypasses the usual opening commendations and prayers. Instead, it launches directly into their foolishness for forgetting the true gospel of Christ. Certain church members had returned to law-keeping as a means of personal justification. Paul would not have it. The result is a strongly-worded rebuke.
Paul reminds the Galatian believers of their freedom in Christ, which they should use as fuel to fire their love and service toward one another. The alternative is to “bite and devour” one another through fleshly, unspiritual, unloving behavior. The result would be utter destruction.
This is not the way
The Star Wars prequels – the three movies released between 1999 and 2005 – get a bad rap from many fans of the imaginary universe. But for every Jar-Jar Binks, there’s a legend of Darth Plagueis to balance it out (please excuse my nerd moment). Take for example this oft-quoted line of wisdom from Jedi master Yoda in Episode I: The Phantom Menace.
Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.
The diminutive philosopher understands what others don’t see. An irrational fear left unchecked in the heart of an emotionally wounded child will lead to all-out galactic war. The end of Episode III: Revenge of the Sith proves Yoda right.
Thomas Brooks explains a similar process in the way Satan divides and conquers a church:
A fading warmth of our love for Christ chills love for our brothers and sisters. There is an individual aspect at play here, though. Each of us is responsible for continually stoking the fires of our devotion to God.
And then division
Paul urged the church at Ephesus to remain “eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (4:3). If we break this peaceful bond, we become prone to division. And a body divided against itself cannot stand.
Which leads to bitterness
When a church divides into factions, conversations around confession and forgiveness of sins cease. The result is bitter hearts that store up offenses toward one another, and resentments that fester into hatred.
Bitter hearts lack the peaceful assurance of faith toward Christ. When we lose that assurance, it becomes easy to want what others have to shore up our weak consciouses. Now we have not only a divided church, but warring factions, each trying to take from another.
Which ends in biting and devouring one another
Whether through outright attack or self-protection, the wounding begins. The body shrinks through attrition. Splinter groups form. New churches arise, formed from the wounded. Many will never return to congregational worship. Healing may never take place because no one addresses the sins that began the whole process.
A united front
It doesn’t have to be this way. And for many churches it never will be. Satan cannot conquer a body of believers that maintain unity. And unity will not dissolve when hearts remain fixed on the source of their strength, hope, and love.
Thomas Brooks provides 12 reminders for every church that longs to remain unified in the Spirit, which is the unbreakable bond of peace.
Let’s listen to him now. Our audio segment this time is lengthier than usual, so we’ll forego the comments from the blog post afterward.
I want to thank you for sticking with a long episode, which I think is filled with invaluable help for the church today.
Next time we delve into chapter 6 of Precious Remedies. Thomas Brooks explains five ways Satan prevents unbelievers from believing the gospel and repenting of their sin. For Christians, this chapter offers help as we encounter the objections of those with whom we share the love of Christ.
We hope you’ll continue with us on this journey.