Not whom he may bite—but
(Thomas Watson, "The Christian
We read in Scripture of Satan's snares and darts;
he hurts more by his snares than by his darts!
Satan opposes us both by open violence, and secret
1. Satan opposes by open violence—so
he is called
the Red Dragon. He labors to storm the castle of the
heart; he stirs up passion, lust and revenge. These are
called "fiery darts," Ephes. 6:16, because they often set
the soul on fire. Satan in regard to his fierceness, is
called a lion, "Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy
the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for
someone to devour!" 1 Peter 5:8. Not
may bite—but devour!
2. Satan opposes by secret treachery—so
called the Old Serpent. What he cannot do by force,
he will endeavor to do by fraud. Satan has several
subtle devices in tempting:
Satan suits his temptations to the temper of
the individual. Satan studies our dispositions, and
lays suitable baits. He knew Achan's s covetous heart,
and tempted him with a wedge of gold. He tempts
the youthful man with lust.
Satan tempts to sin gradually. He steals into into
the heart by degrees. He is at first, more modest.
He did not say to Eve at first, "Eat the apple!" No!
but he goes more subtly to work. He puts forth a
question, "Has God said? Surely Eve, you are mistaken;
the bountiful God never intended to debar one of the
best trees of the garden. Has God said? Surely, either
God did not say it; or if He did, He never really intended
it." Thus by degrees he wrought her to distrust God, and
then she took of the fruit and ate. Oh, take heed of
Satan's first motions to sin, which seem more modest.
He is first a fox, and then a lion.
Satan tempts to evil in lawful things. It was lawful
for Noah to eat the fruit of the grape; but he took too
much, and so sinned. Excess turns that which is good—
into evil. Eating and drinking may turn to intemperance.
Industry in one's calling, when excessive, becomes
covetousness. Satan draws men to an immoderate love
of the creature, and then makes them sin in that which
they love—as Agrippina poisoned her husband Claudius,
in that food which he loved most.
Satan puts men upon doing good, out of evil ends.
If he cannot hurt them by scandalous actions—he will by
virtuous actions. Thus he tempts some to espouse religion
out of ulterior motives. He tempts others to give to charity,
for applause, that others may see their good works.
"Take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish
all the flaming arrows of the evil one!" Ephesians 6:16. We
must resist the devil by faith. Faith is a wise, intelligent
grace. Faith can see a hook under the bait! Faith keeps
the castle of the heart, so that it does not yield. Faith beats
back the temptation. Faith holds the promise in one hand,
and Christ in the other. The promise encourages faith, and
Christ strengthens it; so faith beats the enemy out of the field!
We overcome Satan upon our knees! A Christian by prayer
fetches in auxiliary forces from Heaven. In all temptations, go
to God by prayer. "Lord, teach me to use every piece of the
spiritual armor—how to hold the shield, how to wear the helmet,
how to use the sword of the Spirit. Lord, strengthen me in the
battle; let me rather die a conqueror—than be taken prisoner,
and led captive by Satan!"
Remember that Christ has given Satan his death-wound
upon the cross. He has bruised the head of the old Serpent!
He is a chained enemy, and a conquered enemy;
do not fear him. "Resist the devil, and he will flee from you!"
James 4:7. "The God of peace will soon crush Satan under
your feet!" Romans 16:20.
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