Sometimes we tend to forget that Satan is strong and smart. Jesus called him the “strong man” who is the “prince of this world” (Matt. 12:29, John 12:31). Peter compared him to a hungry lion on the prowl (1 Pet. 5.8). Satan is a brilliant tactician (2 Cor. 11:3) who has had thousands of years to become an expert on deceiving and tempting God’s people. He knows from experience how to look like an angel of light.
Thomas Watson knew that Satan was strong and intelligent. In his exposition of the sixth petition of the Lord’s Prayer (Lead us not into temptation…) he wrote a brilliant explanation of the many ways Satan tries to trick and deceive God’s people. In one section of this discussion, Watson noted that Satan tries to hinder us from our Christian duty, discourage us in our duty, or put us too far in duty in order to run us upon the rock of despair.
“If he cannot keep a Christian from duty, he will run him on too far in it. Humiliation, or mourning for sin, is a duty, but Satan will push it too far; he will say, ‘You are not humbled enough;’ and, indeed, he never thinks a man is humbled enough till he despairs. He would make a Christian wade so far in the waters of repentance, that he should get beyond his depth, and be drowned in the gulf of despair.
“Satan comes thus to the soul and says, ‘Your sins have been great, and your sorrows should be proportionate to your sins. But is it so? Can you say you have been as great a mourner as you have been a sinner? You did for many years practice no other trade but sin – and is a drop of sorrow enough for a sea of sin? No, your soul must be more humbled and lie steeping longer in the brinish waters of repentance.’”
“Satan would have a Christian weep himself blind, and in a desperate mood throw away the anchor of hope. Now, lest any be troubled with this temptation, let me say that this is a mere fallacy of Satan; for sorrow proportional to sin is not attainable in this life, nor does God expect it. It is sufficient for you, Christian, if you have a gospel-sorrow; if you grieve so far as to see sin hateful and Christ precious, if you grieve so as to break off iniquity, if your remorse ends in divorcing sin. This is to be humbled enough.”
“The gold has lain long enough in the fire when the dross is purged out; so a Christian has to be humbled enough for divine acceptance. God, for Christ’s sake, will accept this sorrow for sin; therefore let not Satan’s temptations drive you to despair” (p. 276-7).
Well said. Amen. Jesus saves, not the intensity of our repentance. Though we must repent to be saved, repentance isn’t a savior. Repentance didn’t die on the cross to redeem us; Jesus did. Repentance is not the object of our faith, Jesus is. We might summarize with the words of the hymn:
Could my zeal no languor (weariness) know, could my tears forever flow,
All for sin could not atone; Thou must save, and Thou alone!
The above quotes are found in Thomas Watson’s exposition of the Lord’s Prayer.
rev shane lems