Right living and right believing depends on right thinking. And when you’re trying to devote yourself to God, Satan will try to distract you with what Thomas Brooks calls “vain thoughts.” These are worries, worldly cares, discouragements, and arguments against Christ and his kingdom. They can wear you down and “put you off” from serving the Lord. Winning this battle is about engaging this wrong thinking, taking hold of it, and countering it with a healthy dose of truth. In Precious Remedies against Satan’s Devices, Brooks explains seven ways to do this.
Growth is an essential and indisputable part of the Christian life. The apostle Paul wrote in his magnificent letter to the churches in Ephesus that they – and we – “are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ” (Eph. 4:15 ESV). We are alive in Christ. Living things grow.
Growth is good. It’s okay to want it. So, why does spiritual growth sometime seem so hard to achieve? Why is it so easy to get stuck, to feel like we aren’t progressing. And what can we do about it?
I’d like to offer three bits of advice, based on my recent discoveries. They’ve helped me. And I think they can help you, too.
Thomas Brooks warns us that Satan wants us to infer an entitlement to laziness. He tempts us to believe that because Christ has won the victory for us there are no battles left to fight. But common sense and Scripture soundly refute such notions. Allow Brooks to explain his remedies against idleness and banish the enemy from this playground once and for all.
Thomas Brooks began his explanation of this first device against Christians’ devotion to God by illustrating four negative qualities of wealth. Its weakness, meaninglessness, unreliability, and danger make it a terrible substitute for the riches of our inheritance in Christ. The length of Brooks’ writings on this device made necessary our dividing it into two posts.
As he closes this segment, he writes: “I have been the longer upon the remedies that may help us against this dangerous device of Satan, because he does usually more hurt to the souls of men by this device than he does by all other devices.”
For an entire book dedicated to learning how to defeat our greatest enemy, this is a sobering statement. We would do well to pay special attention to the advice of this wise teacher here.
We continue through this first device against Christian devotion with Brooks’ final four remedies. This second half illustrates how the promise of better things in Christ, based on God’s eternal promises to us, can help us look beyond temporal pleasures.