We have an enemy who plans to snare the runner on the road. Thomas Brooks shows how we fail to prepare for, or even remain unaware of, of his schemes.
Chapter 1: The Proof of the Point
For the proof of the point, take these few Scriptures: (Eph. 6: 11), “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.”
Chapter one is brief, featuring three “proofs” of the main point Thomas Brooks intends to make. I’ll deal with the first two here.
A runner has to watch out for “snares” on the road – traps, dangers, risks. After two decades of running I’ve met my fair share of them.
Take your eyes off the road, and you might trip over a rock or piece of trash. Stray from the path, and your foot can wind up in a hole or caught on a downed tree limb. And don’t think that guy turning right at the intersection is going to see you before he goes. He won’t.
One of the first safety rules I learned about road running: Always run against the flow of traffic. Simply put, run on the left side. That way, oncoming cars can see you more easily. More importantly, you don’t have your back to them like you would on the right side.
Don’t think that would matter so much? Imagine running on the right shoulder. Your earbuds are in. You’re focused on knocking out the next mile. And the driver behind you takes his eyes off the road for just a second to look at a text message on his phone.
That’s all it takes. One second. Your running days are over.
Snares from behind
Ephesians 6 is a popular passage to teach about resisting Satan. Volumes have been written in Christianity about spiritual warfare and the “armor of God.” Usually when we study this passage, we think of the armor as an approaching enemy.
In Chapter 1 of Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices, Brooks sees things differently. Thus, he cites Ephesians 6:11 and its use of the word “wiles.” In modern translations the word is often rendered as “schemes.” Satan is cunning, crafty. That’s why he plans to trip us up using tactics we won’t expect or anticipate.
The point is this: We have an enemy who plans to ensnare the runner on the road. It doesn’t matter if the runner is unprepared, or even unaware. In fact, all the better.
We Christians tend to keep our pre-written lists of what we expect in terms of temptations and snares to sin. We know ourselves. The old pitfalls look familiar. So we avoid those things in the future – or at least we intend to. Pornography, alcohol, certain types of food. For some it may be old relationships we need to abandon. For others it may be a tendency toward laziness, anger, or judgmentalism. They’ve gotten the best of us before, so we strive to not let it happen again.
But what about the unexpecteds? What do you do when temptation blind-sides you? How does the runner avoid the bicyclist coming from behind the tree? The dog that just got loose from its leash? The broken paver covered by fallen leaves?
Coming to your senses
Brooks next turns to 2 Timothy 2:26, which speaks of recovering one’s self after Satan ensnares with a scheme. The Apostle Paul here encourages his young apprentice to reason with his “opponents,” those who stand against the truths of the gospel. In doing so, he might help them wake up out of their error and save themselves from destruction.
There’s something lulling, soothing about a long run. Those who hate running will probably think this sounds crazy. But build up enough endurance and stamina, and a runner may eventually reach “the zone.” It’s a place of physical – even emotional – comfort with the act that makes you feel like you’re floating, flying. The endorphins pump at peak volume. You feel like you could run forever.
And that’s exactly the moment you’re the most vulnerable to injury. When you’re too focused on how you feel, you forget to remain aware of your surroundings.
That’s when it’s time to wake up. Coming to your senses, remaining in them, is the key to avoiding danger.
I think Thomas Brooks’ third “proof” warrants its own post. For now, that temptation to succumb to the Devil’s snares can come at any time, in any situation. Despite a runner’s best attempts to prepare, he cannot foresee every circumstance.
Our author has much to share in coming chapters about defeating Satan and escaping his snares. I hope you’ll keep reading along with us to discover them for yourself.