What is true about us? Discovering True Self-knowledge

By the fall and revolt of Adam the whole human race was delivered to the curse, and degenerated from its original condition; (the doctrine of original sin).

1. Our Creation by God

…knowledge of ourselves lies first in considering what we were given at creation and how generously God continues his favor toward us, in order to know how great our natural excellence would be if only it had remained unblemished; yet at the same time to bear in mind that there is in us nothing of our own, but that we hold on [patient endurance] whatever God has bestowed upon us.

Hence we are ever dependent on him.

2. Our Perversion by the Fall

Secondly, to call to mind our miserable condition after Adam’s fall; the awareness of which, when all our boasting and self-assurance are laid low, should truly humble us and overwhelm us with shame.

In the beginning God fashioned us after His image [Gen. 1:27] that He might arouse our minds both to zeal for virtue and to meditation upon eternal life.

Thus, in order that the great nobility of our race (which distinguishes us from brute beasts) may not be buried beneath our own dullness of wit, it behooves us to recognize that we have been endowed with reason and understanding so that, by leading a holy and upright life, we may press on to the appointed goal of blessed immortality.

But that primal worthiness cannot come to mind without the sorry spectacle of our foulness and dishonor presenting itself by way of contrast, since in the person of the first man we have fallen from our original condition.

From this source arise abhorrence and displeasure with ourselves, as well as true humility; and thence is kindled a new zeal to seek God, in whom each of us may recover those good things which we have utterly and completely lost.

-John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, II.1.1

Be Killing Sin or It Will Be Killing You

“Be killing sin or it will be killing you”

“There are two great things that are suitable to humble to souls of men. The first is due consideration of God. And the second is a due consideration of yourself. Of God, look at His greatness, his glory, His holiness, His power, His majesty and His authority, and of ourselves, to understand our mean, lowly, insignificant abject sinful condition.”

-John Owen, Overcoming Sin and Temptation, ed. Kelly M. Kapic and Justin Taylor, 282

Satan’s Devices to Keep Souls from Holy Duties – Part 4

Satan’s Devices to keep souls from holy duties, to hinder souls in holy services, to keep them off from religious [activities].

7. By casting in vain thoughts while the soul is seeking God or waiting on God:

For remedies, consider that

A. The God with whom we have to do is great, holy, majestic, and glorious
B. Despite wandering thoughts it is needful to be resolute in religious service
C. Vain and trifling thoughts that Satan casts into our souls are not sins if they are abhorred, resisted and disclaimed
D. Watching against, resisting and lamenting sinful thoughts evidences grace and the sincerity of our hearts.
E. We must labor to be filled with the fullness of God and enriched with all spiritual blessings
F. We must labor to keep up holy and spiritual affections
G. We must labor to avoid multiplicity of worldly business

8. By tempting Christians to rest in their deeds:

For remedies, consider that

A. Our choicest services have their imperfections and weaknesses
B. Our choicest services are unable to minister comfort and aid in days of trouble
C. Good works, if rested upon, will certainly destroy us as the greatest sin we commit
D. God has met our need of resting place in Christ Himself

-Thomas Brooks, Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices, 1652.

Satan’s Devices to Keep Souls from Holy Duties – Part 3

Satan’s Devices to keep souls from holy duties, to hinder souls in holy services, to keep them off from religious [activities].

5. By presenting to view the fewness and poverty of those who hold to religious practices:

For remedies, consider that

A. Though saints are outwardly poor, they are inwardly rich
B. In all ages God has had some that have been rich, wise, and honorable
C. Spiritual riches infinitely transcend temporal riches, and satisfy the poorest saints
D. Saints now appear to be ‘a little flock,’ but they belong to a company that cannot be numbered
E. It is but as a day before these departed saints will shine brighter than the sun
F. The time will come even in this life when God will take away the reproach and contempt of His people, and make those the ‘head’ who have been the ‘tail’

6. By showing saints that the majority of men make light of God’s ways and walk in the ways of their own hearts:

For remedies, consider that

A. Certain Scriptures warn against following the sinful examples of men
B. Those who sin with the multitude will suffer with the multitude
C. The soul of a man is of more worth that heaven and earth

-Thomas Brooks, Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices, 1652.

Satan’s Devices to Keep Souls from Holy Duties – Part 2

Satan’s Devices to keep souls from holy duties, to hinder souls in holy services, to keep them off from religious [activities].

3. By presenting to the soul the difficulty of [doing] religious duties:

For remedies, consider that

A. It is better to regard the necessity of the duty than the difficulty of it
B. The Lord Jesus will reveal Himself to the obedient soul and thus make the service easy
C. The Lord Jesus has Himself engaged in hard service and in suffering for your temporal and eternal good
D. Religious duties are only difficult to the worse, not to the more noble part of a saint
E. A glorious recompense awaits saints who serve the Lord in the face of difficulties and discouragements

4. By causing saints to draw false inferences from the blessed and glorious things that Christ has done:

For remedies, consider that

A. It is needful to dwell as much upon scriptures that state Christian duty as upon those that speak of the glorious things that Christ has done for us
B. The glorious things that Christ has done and is now doing for us should be our strongest motives and encouragements for the [doing] of our duties
C. Other precious souls who have rested on Christ’s work have been very active and lively in religious duties
D. Those who do not walk in God’s ways cannot have such evidence of their righteousness before God as can those who rejoice in the service of the Lord
E. Duties are to be esteemed not by their acts but by their ends

-Thomas Brooks, Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices, 1652.

Satan’s Devices to Keep Souls from Holy Duties – Part 1

Satan’s Devices to keep souls from holy duties, to hinder souls in holy services, to keep them off from religious [activities].

1. By presenting the world in such a garb as to ensnare the soul:

For remedies, consider that

A. All things here below are impotent and weak
B. They are also full of vanity
C. All things under the sun are uncertain and mutable
D. The great things of the world are hurtful to men owing to the corruption of their hearts
E. All the [happiness] of this world is mixed
F. It is needful to get better acquainted with, and assurance of, more blessed and glorious things
G. True happiness and satisfaction do not arise form worldly good
H. The value and dignity of the soul is to be a subject of contemplation

2. By presenting to the soul the dangers, losses and sufferings that accompany the [doing] of certain religious duties:

For remedies, consider that

A. All such troubles cannot harm the Christian
B. Saints now glorified encounter such dangers, but persevered to the end
C. All such dangers are but for a moment, whereas the neglect of the service of God lays the Christian open to spiritual and eternal dangers
D. god knows how to deliver from troubles by troubles, from dangers by dangers
E. In the service of God, despite troubles and afflictions, the gains outweigh the losses

-Thomas Brooks, Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices, 1652.

Satan’s Devices to Draw the Soul to Sin –Part 3

9. By presenting to the soul the crosses, losses, sorrows and sufferings that daily attend those who walk in the ways of holiness:

For remedies, consider that

A. All afflictions suffered by Christians turn to their profit
B. All such afflictions only reach their worst, not their best, part
C. All such afflictions are short and momentary
D. All such afflictions proceed from God’s dearest love
E. It is our duty and glory to measure afflictions not by the smart but by the end
F. God’s design in saints’ afflictions is to try, not to ruin, their souls
G. The afflictions, wrath and misery consequent upon wickedness are far worse than those linked with holiness

10. By causing saints to compare themselves and their ways with those reputed to be worse than themselves:

For remedies, consider that

A. To be quick-sighted abroad and blind at home proves a man a hypocrite
B. It is far better to compare our internal and external actions with the Word than to compare ourselves with others worse than ourselves
C. Though our sins may not appear as great as those of others, yet without repentance responding to mercy, we shall certainly be damned as others

11. By polluting the souls and judgments of men with dangerous errors that lead to looseness and wickedness:

For remedies, consider that

A. An erroneous vain mind is as odious to God as a vicious life
B. It is needful to receive the truth affectionately and plenteously
C. Error makes its owner suffer loss
D. It is needful to hate and reject all doctrines that are contrary to godliness, that lead to self-righteousness, and that make good works co-partners with Christ
E. It is needful to hold fast the truth
F. It is needful to keep humble
G. Errors have been productive of great evils

12. By leading men to choose wicked company:

For remedies, consider that

A. There are express commands of God to shun such company
B. Wicked company is infectious and dangerous
C. It is needful to look upon the wicked in such terms as Scripture describes them
D. The company of wicked men was once a grief and burden also to saints now glorified

-Thomas Brooks, Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices, 1652.

 

Satan’s Devices to Draw the Soul to Sin –Part 2

5. By presenting God to the soul as One made up all of mercy:

For remedies, consider that

A. It is the sorest of judgments to be left to sin upon any pretense whatsoever
B. God is as just as He is merciful
C. Sins against mercy will bring the greatest and sorest judgments on men
D. Though God’s general mercy is over all His works, yet His special mercy is confined to those who are divinely qualified
E. The saints now glorified regarded God’s mercy as a most powerful argument against, and not for, sin

6. By persuading the soul that repentance is easy and that therefore the soul need not scruple about sinning:

For remedies, consider that

A. Repentance is a difficult work above our own power
B. Repentance changes and converts the whole man from sin to God
C. Repentance is a continued act
D. If repentance were easy, the lack of it would not strike millions with terror and drive them to hell
E. To repent of sin is as great a mark of grace as not to sin
F. Satan now suggests that repentance is easy, but shortly he will drive his dupes to despair by presenting it as the hardest work in the world.

7. By making the soul bold to venture upon the occasions of sin:

For remedies, consider that

A. Certain scriptures expressly command us to avoid occasions of sin and the least appearance of evil
B. There is no conquest over sin unless the soul turns from the occasions of sin
C. Saints now glorified have turned from the occasions of sin as from hell itself
D. To avoid the occasions of sin is an evidence of grace

8. By representing to the soul the outward mercies enjoyed by men walking in sin, and their freedom from outward miseries:

For remedies, consider that

A. We cannot judge of how the heart of God stands towards a man by the acts of His providence
B. Nothing provokes God’s wrath so much as men’s abuse of His goodness and mercy
C. There is no greater curse or affliction in this life than not to be in misery or affliction
D. The wants of evil men are far greater than their outward blessings
E. Outward things are not as they seem, nor as they are esteemed
F. God has ends and designs in giving evil men outward mercies and present rest from sorrows and sufferings that cause saints to sigh
G. God often plagues and punishes those whom others think He most spares and loves
H. God will call evil men to a strict account for all the outward good that they have enjoyed

-Thomas Brooks, Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices, 1652.

 

Satan’s Devices to Draw the Soul to Sin – Part 1

1. By presenting the bait and hiding the hook:

For remedies, consider that

A. We ought to keep at the greatest distance from sin and from playing with the bait
B. Sin is but a bitter sweet
C. Sin will usher in the greatest and the saddest losses
D. Sin is very deceitful and bewitching

2. By paining sin with virtue’s colors:

For remedies, consider that

A. Sin is never the less vile by being so painted
B. The more sin is so painted the more dangerous it is
C. We ought to look on sin with that eye with which within a few hours we shall see it
D. Sin cost the life-blood of the Lord Jesus

3. By the extenuating and lessening of sin:

For remedies, consider that

A. Sin which men account small bring God’s great wrath on men
B. The giving way to a less sin makes way for the committing of a greater
C. It is sad to stand [against] God for a trifle
D. Often there is most danger in the smallest sins
E. The saints have chosen to suffer greatly rather than commit the least sin
F. The soul can never stand under the guilt and weight of sin when God sets it home upon the soul.
G. There is more evil in the least sin than in the greatest affliction

4. By showing to the soul the best men’s sins and by hiding from the soul their virtues, their sorrows, and their repentance:

For remedies, consider that

A. The Spirit of God records not only the sins of the saints, but also their repentance
B. These saints did not make a trade of sin
C. Though God does not disinherit his sinning people, He punishes then severely
D. God has two main ends in recording the falls of His saints:

1. To keep people from despair under the burden of the sins who fall through weakness
2. To leave landmarks to warn others to take heed lest they fall

-Thomas Brooks, Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices, 1652.

Pornolescence

By Tim Challies

It is going to take time—decades at least—before we are able to accurately tally the cost of our cultural addiction to pornography. But as Christians we know what it means to tamper with God’s clear and unambiguous design for sexuality: The cost will be high. It must be high.

We all know the cost will be high in fractured families and heartbroken parents, husbands and wives. Already we are seeing far too many of these and each one is its own tragedy. We know the cost will be high in the countless thousands of women who are used and abused in front of cameras so they can be violated for other people’s pleasure. That is a sickening tragedy as well.

But an overlooked cost, and one that will only become clear in time, is that porn is stealing the best years from a million young Christian men and women.

Porn is dominating their lives during their teens and twenties. It is controlling their lives during those years when energy is high and responsibility is low, when the world lies open before them and the possibilities are endless, when they are charting the trajectories for the rest of their lives. Their dreams and their abilities are being hampered and squelched by a reckless commitment to sin.

So many young Christians have stunted their spiritual growth through what I call pornolesence. Pornolescence is that period when a person is old enough and mature enough to know that pornography is wrong and that it exacts a heavy price, but too immature or too apathetic to do anything about it.

Pornolescence is that period where he feels the guilt of his sin, but still enjoys it too much to give it up.

He may make the occasional plea for help, or install Covenant Eyes (but keep a workaround for when he’s really burning up), or ask for an accountability partner. But he doesn’t really want to stop. Not yet. She may phone a friend on occasion or plan to speak to one of the older women in the church, but in the end her internal shame weighs heavier than her desire for holiness. So she continues on, night after night.

This is pornolesence, that period between seeing the sin for what it is and actually putting it to death, that period between the deep soul conviction of immorality and the stubborn commitment to purity.

For some people it lasts days, but for many more it lasts for years. A lot of young people—too many young people—are growing up too slowly today. Their sexual awakening is coming far too early and amidst all the wrong circumstances, and it is delaying every other kind of awakening and maturing. It is especially delaying their spiritual maturation.

1 Thessalonians 4:3 makes it as clear as day: “For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality.” A Christian’s growth in holiness and his development in Christian maturity is directly and inextricably tied to sexual purity. A person cannot full-out pursue God while also full-out pursuing porn. It’s either/or, not both/and. God will not be mocked.

God will not allow you to soar to spiritual mountain tops while you stoop in pornographic filth.

God will not allow you to grow in Christian maturity while you wallow in your incessant pornolesence.

And I think time will prove that this is one of the gravest costs of pornography: It is stealing the best years from so many young Christians. It is stunting their spiritual growth and delaying their entrance into Christian ministry and service. These are the people who represent the future of the church—future elders, future deacons, future women’s ministry leaders, future youth leaders, future children’s workers, future mentors, future missionaries, future seminary professors, future defenders of the faith, future denominational heads, and on and on.

But with each click, with each video, with each unblushing exposure to what God deems abhorrent, they choose to worship a god in place of the God.

And all the while they delay their entrance into maturity, into leadership, into who and what God calls them to be.

If this is you, hear my plea: For the sake of Christ’s church, and out of love for Christ’s church, put that sin to death. Do it for Him, and do it for us.

-Tim Challies, http://www.challies.com/christian-living/pornolescence