“Only they would that we should remember the poor; the same which I also was forward to do.” Galatians 2:10
POVERTY is no virtue; wealth is no sin. On the other hand, wealth is not morally good, and poverty is not morally evil. A man may be a good man and a rich man; it is quite certain that very frequently good men are poor men. Virtue is a plant which depends not upon the atmosphere which surrounds it, but upon the hand which waters it, and upon the grace which sustains it. We draw no support for grace from our circumstances whether they be good or evil.
Grace is a plant which draws no nourishment from the wilderness in which it grows; it finds nothing to feed upon in the heart of man; all it lives upon it receives supernaturally. It sends all its roots upwards, none downwards; it draws no support from poverty, and none from riches. Gold cannot sustain grace; on the other hand, rags cannot make it flourish. Grace is a plant which derives the whole of its support from God the Holy Spirit, and is therefore entirely independent of the circumstances of man.
The Comer's Conflict with Satan
1856“And as he was yet a coming, the devil threw him down, and tare him. And Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, and healed the child, and delivered him again to his father.” Luke 9:42
Never creature possessed with evil spirit was in a worse plight than the man who is without God, without Christ, and without hope in the world. The casting out of the unclean spirit was moreover a thing that was impossible to man and only possible to God; and so is the conversion of an ungodly sinner a thing beyond the reach of human ability, and only to be accomplished by the might of the Most High. The dreadful bellowings, foamings, and tearings caused in this unhappy child by the unclean spirit, are a picture of the sins, iniquities, and vices into which ungodly men are continually and impetuously hurried; and a type of that sad and terrible suffering which remorse will by-and-bye bring to their conscience, and which the vengeance of God will soon cause to occupy their hearts. The bringing of this child to the Saviour by his parents teaches us a lesson, that those of us to whom the care of youth is entrusted, either as parents or teachers, should be anxious to bring our children to Jesus Christ, that he may graciously save them.
There are four points for our consideration this morning. That you may easily remember them I have made them alliterative: the devil’s doings, designs, discovery, and defeat.
1. First of all he does this by perverting the truth of God for the destruction of the soul’s hope and comfort. The devil is very sound in divinity. I never suspected him of heterodoxy yet. I believe him to be one of the most orthodox individuals in creation. Other people may disbelieve the doctrines of revelation, but the devil cannot, for he knows the truth, and though he will belie it often, he is so crafty that he understand that with the soul convinced of sin his best method is not to contradict the truth, but to pervert it. But Satan is not very scrupulous, and he sometimes throws the coming sinner down and tears him by telling horrible falsehoods. Then if the devil cannot overcome you there, he tries another method; he takes all the threatening passages out of God’s Word, and says they all apply to you.
Let me dwell for a moment or two upon the second point—the DEVIL’S DESIGN. Why does he throw the coming soul down and tear it? First, because he does not like to lose it. Sometimes, I believe, he has the vile design of inducing poor souls to make away with themselves before they have faith in Christ. Then Satan has another motive. When the soul is coming to Christ he tries, out of spite, to worry that soul.
In the third place, there is the DEVIL’S DISCOVERY. I do not think the devil would be able to throw one poor sinner to the ground if he came as the devil; but it is seldom he does that. He presents himself as an angel of light, or even as the Holy Spirit. He knows that the Holy Spirit does all the work of salvation, and therefore he tries to counterfeit the operations of the Holy Ghost. He knows it is the Holy Spirit’s work to take away pride from man, and to humble the soul. Well, Satan counterfeits that blessed work, and takes away hope from man as well as pride. It is my firm belief that very much of the experience of a Christian is not Christian experience. Many Christians experience things that have nothing to do with Christianity, but more to do with demonology. When you read the convictions of John Bunyan, you may think that all that terror was the fruit of the Holy Spirit; but be assured it was the fruit of Satanic influence. You may think it is God’s Holy Spirit that drives sinners to despair and keeps them shut up in the iron cage so long. Not at all. There was God’s Holy Spirit, and then Satan came in to mar the work if he could. In the first, place, you may be always sure that that which comes from the devil will make you look at yourselves and not at Christ. The Holy Spirit’s work is to turn our eyes from ourselves to Jesus Christ, but the enemy’s work is the very opposite. Nine out of ten of the insinuations of the devil have to do with ourselves. “You are guilty,” says the devil—that is self. “You have not faith”—that is self. “You do not repent enough”—that is self. “You have got such a wavering hold of Christ”—that is self. “You have none of the joy of the spirit, and therefore cannot be one of his”—that is self. Thus the devil begins picking holes in us; whereas the Holy Spirit takes self entirely away, and tells us that we are “nothing at all,” but that “Jesus Christ is all in all.”
But remember, sinner, it is not thy hold of Christ that saves thee—it is Christ; it is not thy joy in Christ that saves thee—it is Christ; it is not even faith in Christ, though that is the instrument—it is Christ’s blood and merits; therefore, look not so much to thy hand with which thou art grasping Christ, as to Christ; look not to thy hope, but to Christ, the source of thy hope; look not to thy faith, but to Christ, the author and finisher of thy faith; and if thou dost that, ten thousand devils cannot throw thee down, but as long as thou lookest at thyself, the meanest of those evil spirits may tread thee beneath his feet.
Now, in the last place, we have to consider the DEVIL’S DEFEAT. How was he defeated? Jesus rebuked him. Beloved, there is no other way for us to be saved from the castings down of Satan but the rebuke of Jesus.
There is one thing which we all of us too much becloud in our preaching, though I believe we do it very unintentionally—namely, the great truth that it is not prayer, it is not faith, it is not our doings, it is not our feelings upon which we must rest, but upon Christ, and on Christ alone.
We are apt to think that we are not in a right state, that we do not feel enough, instead of remembering that our business is not with self, but Christ. Our business is only with Christ. O soul, if thou couldst fix thy soul on Jesus, and neglect everything else—if thou couldst but despise good works, and aught else, so far as they relate to thy salvation, and look wholly, simply on Christ, I tell thee Satan would soon give up throwing thee down, he would find it would not answer his purpose, for thou wouldst fall on Christ, and like the giant who fell upon his mother, the earth, thou wouldst rise up each time stronger than before.© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible