5. The Flesh and the Devil

 •  6 min. read  •  grade level: 7
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Pride of youth, vanity, lusts, idolizing of the world, and charming pleasures, take long to root them out.... When the day of visitation cometh, and your old idols come weeping about you, ye will have much ado not to break your heart.
It is impossible that a man can take his lusts to heaven with him; such wares as these will not be welcome there. Oh, how loath are we to forego our packalds and burdens, that hinder us to run our race with patience! It is no small work to displease and anger nature, that we may please God. Oh, if it be hard to win one foot, or half an inch, out of our own will, out of our own wit, out of our own ease and worldly lusts (and so to deny ourself, and to say, “It is not I but Christ, not I but grace, not I but God’s glory, not I but God’s love constraining me, not I but the Lord’s word, not I but Christ’s commanding power as King in me!”), oh, what pains, and what a death is it to nature, to turn me, myself, my lust, my ease, my credit, over into, “My Lord, my Savior, my King, and my God, my Lord’s will, my Lord’s grace!” But, alas! that idol, that whorish creature, myself, is the master-idol we all bow to.... What hurried Eve headlong upon the forbidden fruit, but that wretched thing herself? What drew that brother-murderer to kill Abel? That wild himself What drove the old world on to corrupt their ways? Who, but themselves, and their own pleasure? What was the cause of Solomon’s falling into idolatry and multiplying of strange wives? What, but himself whom he would rather pleasure than God? What was the hook that took David and snared him first in adultery, but his self-lust? and then in murder, but his self-credit and self-honor? What led Peter on to deny his Lord? Was it not a piece of himself and self-love to a whole skin? What made Judas sell his Master for thirty pieces of money, but a piece of self-love, idolizing of avaricious self? What made Demas go off the way of the gospel, to embrace this present world? Even self-love and love of gain for himself. Every man blameth the devil for his sins; but the great devil, the house-devil of every man, the house-devil that eateth and lieth in every man’s bosom, is that idol that killeth all, himself Oh, blessed are they who can deny themselves, and put Christ in the room of themselves! Oh, would to the Lord that I had not a myself but Christ; nor a my lust, but Christ; nor a my ease, but Christ; nor a my honor, but Christ! O sweet word! “I live no more, but Christ liveth in me!” Oh, if every one would put away himself, his own self, his own ease, his own pleasure, his own credit, and his own twenty things, his own hundred things, which he setteth up, as idols, above Christ!
It is impossible that your idol-sins and ye can go to heaven together; and that they who will not part with these can, indeed, love Christ at the bottom, but only in word and show, which will not do the business.
I think not much of a cross when all the children of the house weep with me and for me; and to suffer when we enjoy the communion of saints is not much; but it is hard when saints rejoice in the suffering of saints, and redeemed ones hurt (yea, even go nigh to hate) redeemed ones. I confess I imagined there had no more been such an affliction on earth, or in the world, as that one elect angel should fight against another.... The saints are not Christ: there is no misjudging in Him; there is much in us; and a doubt it is, if we shall have fully one heart till we shall enjoy one heaven. Our starlight hideth us from ourselves and hideth us from one another, and Christ from us all. But He will not be hidden from us.... The King’s spikenard, Christ’s perfume, His apples of love, His ointments, even down in this lower house of clay, are a choice heaven. Oh! what then is the King in His own land, where there is such a throne, so many King’s palaces, ten thousand thousands of crowns of glory that want heads yet to fill them? Oh, so much leisure as shall be there to sing! Oh, such a tree as groweth there in the midst of that Paradise, where the inhabitants sing eternally under its branches!
The times would make any that love the Lord sick and faint, to consider how iniquity aboundeth, and how dull we are in observing sins in ourselves, and how quick-sighted to find them out in others.... And yet very often, when we complain of times, we are secretly slandering the Lord’s work and wise government of the world, and raising a hard report of Him. “He is good, and doeth good,” and all His ways are equal.... Oh, we are little with God! and do all without God! We sleep and wake without Him; we eat, we speak, we journey, we go about worldly business and our calling without God! and, considering what deadness is upon the hearts of many, it were good that some did not pray without God, and preach and praise, and read and confer of God without God! It is universally complained of, that there is a strange deadness upon the land, and on the hearts of His people.
The Devil
Since we must have a devil to trouble us, I love a raging devil best. Our Lord knoweth what sort of devil we have need of it is best that Satan be in his own skin, and look like himself.
My Lord Jesus had a good eye that the tempter should not play foul play, and blow out Christ’s candle.... When He burnt the house, He saved His own goods. And I believe the devil and the persecuting world shall reap no fruit of me, but burnt ashes: for He will see to His own gold, and save that from being consumed with the fire.... Oh, what owe I to the file, to the hammer, to the furnace of my Lord Jesus! who hath now let me see how good the wheat of Christ is, that goeth through His mill, and His oven, to be made bread for His own table. Grace tried is better than grace, and it is more than grace; it is glory in its infancy.
Many make a start toward heaven who fall on their back, and win not up to the top of the mount. It plucketh heart and legs from them, and they sit down and give it over, because the devil setteth a sweet-smelled flower to their nose (this fair busked1 world), wherewith they are bewitched, and so forget or refuse to go forward.
1. Adorned