‘Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: whom resist stedfast in the faith.’ 1 Peter 5:8–9
Suggested Further Reading: Luke 4:1–13
Here comes Esau, hungry with hunting; there is a mess of pottage ready, that he may be tempted to sell his birthright. Here is Noah, glad to escape from his long confinement in the ark; he is merry, and there is the wine-cup ready for him, that he may drink. Here is Peter; his faith is low, but his presumption is high; there is a maiden ready to say ‘Thou also wast with Jesus of Nazareth.’ There is Judas, and there are thirty pieces of silver in the priestly hand to tempt him, and there is the rope afterwards for him to hang himself with. No lack of means! If there be a Jonah, wishing to go to Tarshish rather than to Nineveh, there is a ship ready to take him. One of the greatest mercies God bestows upon us is his not permitting our inclinations and opportunities to meet. Have you not sometimes noticed that when you had the inclination to a sin there has been no opportunity, and when the opportunity has presented itself you have had no inclination towards it? Satan’s principal aim with believers is to bring their appetites and his temptations together; to get their souls into a dry, seared state, and then to strike the match and make them burn. He is so crafty and wily with all the experience of these many centuries, that man, who is but of yesterday, can scarcely be thought of as a match for him! Did he not drag down the wise man, even Solomon, whose wisdom was more excellent than any of the sons of men? Did he not lay the royal preacher like a helpless victim at his feet? Did he not cast down the strong man, Samson, who could slay a thousand Philistines, but who could not resist the dallyings of Delilah? Did he not bring down even the man after God’s own heart?
For meditation: Be thankful for the temptation-resistant inclinations of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:17), but beware of Satan’s opportunity-seizing devices (2 Corinthians 2:11; Galatians 6:1). He left Jesus for a season (Luke 4:13), only to return (Luke 22:2–6).
Sermon no. 419
17 November (1861)