Satan wants to destroy your life! Especially, if God has called and gifted you to be a leader in the church. What greater wound could he cause to the body of Christ then to bring down one to whom others look to for strength and guidance? When Satan ambushes the unsuspecting servant of Christ, there will be many clinging to him who also go down.

At least this seems to be the case. It seems to be what Peter was getting at, when he was speaking to leaders within the church “So I exhort the elders among you…Likewise, you who are younger…Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour (1 Peter 5:1, 5, 8).

It has been my experience that Satan uses two very powerful temptations after someone has committed sin: 1) after falling into some sin, he tempts us to not believe the gospel and 2) after sinning, he tempts us to quite serving!  It is the second one of these temptations that I want to warn you about and encourage you to fight against with all your might.

It is this temptation that I have went through many times, since God by his grace saved me. When we have sinned against God and dishonored his name, our hearts and minds are flooded with guilt and shame. This is when the lion comes roaring with all his might and growls and snarls at us, telling us “How can you preach or teach about sin, against sin? Look, you suck! You’re a sinner! What right do you have to think you’re better or more spiritual than other people. You better just take some time off to get your life right or better yet just give up all together. You’ll never get back to where you were! You’ll never be able to conquer this sin!”

So what do we do about these temptations?  How should we fight in this situation? This semester at Southern Seminary, I am taking a class on the Puritans and I have recently come across some help in this area. One of our assignments was to read through The Bruised Reed by Richard Sibbes. I would like to share with you some of the helpful things Sibbes says to those who are being tempted to give up on service, because of sin in their lives.

 WE SHOULD PERSIST IN DUTIES

“1. Our hearts of themselves are reluctant to give up their liberty, and are only with difficulty brought under the yoke of duty. The more spiritual the duty is, the more reluctance there is. Corruption gains ground, for the most part, in every neglect. It is as in rowing against the tide, one stroke neglected will not be gained in three; and therefore it is good to keep our hearts close to duty, and not to listen to the excuses they are ready to frame.

2. As we set about duty, God strengthens the influence that he has in us. We find a warmness of heart and increase of strength, the Spirit going along with us and raising us up by degrees, until he leaves us as it were in heaven. God often delights to take advantage of our averseness (Having a feeling of opposition), that he may manifest his work the more clearly, and that all the glory of the work may be his, as all the strength is his.

3. Obedience is most direct when there a nothing else to sweeten the action. Although the sacrifice is imperfect, yet the obedience with which it is offered is accepted.

4. What is won as a spoil from our corruptions will have as great a degree of comfort afterwards as it has of obstruction for the present. Feeling and freeness of spirit are often reserved until duty is discharged. Reward follows work. In and after duty we find that experience of God’s presence which, without obedience, we may long wait for, and yet go without. This does not hinder the Spirit’s freedom in blowing upon our souls when he pleases (John 3:8), for we speak only of such a state of soul as is becalmed and must row, as it were, against the stream. As in sailing the hand must be to the helm and the eye to the star, so here we must put forth that little strength we have to duty and look up for assistance, which the Spirit, as freely as seasonably, will afford.

 

Yet in these duties that require the body as well as the soul there may be a cessation till strength is restored. Whetting a tool does not hinder, but prepares. In sudden passions, also, there should be a time to compose and calm the soul, and to put the strings in tune. The prophet asked for a minstrel to bring his soul into frame (2 Kings 3:15).”      

If your interested in hearing more about Richard Sibbes, pastor Mark Dever gave an excellent lecture at Southern in 2002 for the Gheens Lecture. His topic was “The Evangelical Church, Richard Sibbes and the Sufficiency of the Gospel.” You can listen to it here.              

 


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