Archive for the ‘temptation’ Category

I asked the Lord that I might grow
In faith, and love, and every grace;
Might more of His salvation know,
And seek, more earnestly, His face.

‘Twas He who taught me thus to pray,
And He, I trust, has answered prayer!
But it has been in such a way,
As almost drove me to despair

I hoped that in some favored hour,
At once He’d answer my request;
And by His love’s constraining pow’r,
Subdue my sins, and give me rest

Instead of this, He made me feel
The hidden evils of my heart;
And let the angry pow’rs of hell
Assault my soul in every part

Yea more, with His own hand He seemed
Intent to aggravate my woe;
Crossed all the fair designs I schemed,
Blasted my gourds, and laid me low.

Lord, why is this, I trembling cried,
Wilt thou pursue thy worm to death
“‘Tis in this way, the Lord replied,
I answer prayer for grace and faith.

These inward trials I employ,
From self, and pride, to set thee free;
And break thy schemes of earthly joy,
That thou may’st find thy all in Me.”

(John Newton, Olney Hymns, Book 3, 36. Prayer Answered By Crosses p.729)

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But the great and good Husbandman watches over what his own hand has planted, and carries on his work by a variety of different and even contrary dispensations.

John Newton on God allowing sin and temptation to continue in our lives. I found the following encouraging from Newton’s Second Letter to a Nobleman.

How can these things be, or why are they permitted? Since the Lord hates sin, teaches his people to hate it and cry against it, and has promised to hear their prayers, how is it that they go thus burdened? Surely, if he could not, or would not, over–rule evil for good, he would not permit it to continue. By these exercises he teaches us more truly to know and feel the utter depravity and corruption of our whole nature, that we are indeed defiled in every part. His method of salvation is likewise hereby exceedingly endeared to us: we see that it is and must be of grace, wholly of grace; and that the Lord Jesus Christ, and his perfect righteousness, is and must be our all in all. His power likewise, in maintaining his own work notwithstanding our infirmities, temptations, and enemies, is hereby displayed in the clearest light; his strength is manifested in our weakness. Satan likewise is more remarkably disappointed and put to shame, when he finds bounds set to his rage and policy, beyond which he cannot pass; and that those in whom he finds so much to work upon, and over whom he so often prevails for a season, escape at last out of his hands. He casts them down, but they are raised again; he wounds them, but they are healed; he obtains his desire to sift them as wheat, but the prayer of their great Advocate prevails for the maintenance of their faith. Farther, by what believers feel in themselves they learn by degrees how to warn, pity, and bear with others. A soft, patient, and compassionate spirit, and a readiness and skill in comforting those who are cast down, is not perhaps attainable in any other way. And, lastly, I believe nothing more habitually reconciles a child of God to the thought of death, than the wearisomeness of this warfare. Death is unwelcome to nature ;––but then, and not till then, the conflict will cease. Then we shall sin no more. The flesh, with all its attendant evils, will be laid in the grave. Then the soul, which has been partaker of a new and heavenly birth, shall be freed from every encumbrance, and stand perfect in the Redeemer’s righteousness before God in glory.

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Reflecting on a period of time when John Newton found himself ‘easy prey’ to ‘the enemy’ regarding sin that he had supposed himself no longer capable, Newton writes (Works, Vol.1 p.58):

By the remembrance of this interval, the Lord has often instructed me since, what a poor creature I am in myself, incapable of standing a single hour without continual fresh supplies of strength and grace from the fountain head.

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Batter my heart, three-person’d God, for you

As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;

That I may rise and stand, o’erthrow me, and bend

Your force to break, blow, burn, and make me new.

I, like an usurp’d town to another due,

Labor to admit you, but oh, to no end;

Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,

But is captiv’d, and proves weak or untrue.

Yet dearly I love you, and would be lov’d fain,

But am betroth’d unto your enemy;

Divorce me, untie or break that knot again,

Take me to you, imprison me, for I,

Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,

Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.

Source: John Donne (1620s)

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Thomas Brooks, The Strength Of Christ Illustrated In The Weakness Of His People.
Two Sermons Preached on a Sacramental occasion at Galashiels, July 31, and August 1, 1731.
2 Cor. xii. 9. For my strength is made perfect in weakness.

Of sinful natural weakness; not that he brought them under such weakness, but he suffers them to lie under it. There are remains of the corruption of nature in them all, which makes them a company of poor groaning weaklings, Rom. vii. 24. Grace has got in indeed, but corruption is not yet quite got out. The Canaanites are left in the land, and they are not able to clear the land of them. And this corruption of nature hath a strong bias, in each of them, to some particular evil, according to their various tempers and circumstances, "the sin that easily besets them," Heb. xii. 1.

Why the Lord leaves sin in the regenerate? Why though they pant, long, and breathe after perfection, yet they cannot reach it; though they would buy their freedom from sin with ten thousand worlds if they had them, and the bondage of a body of sin cleaving to them makes them long for cold death, to set them free, yet they must wrestle on with it? See what may satisfy. It is that the power of Christ may be illustrated in your weakness; therefore it is that the "wheels of his chariot tarry."

This bids us,

1st, Stoop to the dispensation, and not quarrel; and after he has thus far discovered to us the design of it, to crucify all our hows and whys on the matter; and that both with respect to our spiritual and bodily weaknesses.

2dly, Resolutely to keep up the struggle, to get forward in the way the Lord calls us. What though we be weak? the works of the Christian life are not to be laid aside, but we are to stretch out the withered hand, that his strength may be perfected in our weakness.

Whoso thus struggle resolutely, and yet stoop humbly to the dispensation, shew their concern for his honour, insomuch that they are pleased his strength should be displayed in their weakness. Thus honouring him here, he will honour them in the other world.


Thomas Boston, The Christian Weak, Yet Strong.
2 Cor. xii. 10, For when I am weak, then am I strong.

You will get enough of strength in Christ, if you take this way to it, living and going out of yourselves, under a sense of utter weakness, to the Lord Christ, as the head of strengthening influences. If you ask, What is that? I answer. It is the soul’s discerning an utter inability in itself for any spiritually good action, but withal believing that God has treasured up sufficient strength in the Mediator, to be communicated to those that are his, and therefore embracing a full Christ for all, as held forth in the everlasting covenant; and then venturing on duties, watching against temptations, and taking up the cross, upon the faith and credit of the promises of the covenant, trusting that they shall be made out to him; which trust may be weaker or stronger, but according to the strength of it, so is the income of strength to the soul. In this way the weak go from strength to strength. Thus shall you be helped to go through the most difficult duties acceptably, though not perfectly, to stand against the strongest temptations, to mortify the most powerful lusts, and to bear the heaviest crosses. This has made Christians attain to an eminent pitch of holiness, joyfully to embrace a prison, banishment, a gibbet, a fire, and the most cruel torments enemies could invent. The more you are emptied of yourselves, placing confidence in the Lord, the more will you be strengthened with might in the inner man; and when you shall be perfectly unselfed, if we may so express ourselves, so that there shall be no more of it to marr the communication betwixt Christ and you, then you shall be perfectly holy, and set above the reach of all evil; but because we are not properly divested of self-confidence in this world, therefore we do not arrive here at perfect strength. But all the saints, however, will give their testimony, that "when they are weak, then they are strong." Amen.


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And the second time he denied with an oath. It deserves attention, that Peter, after finding that he could not escape by a simple denial, doubles his crime by adding an oath; and a little after, when he is still more vehemently pressed, he proceeds even to cursing. Hence we infer that a sinner, after having once fallen, is always hurried on from bad to worse; so that those who begin with ordinary offenses afterwards rush headlong into the basest crimes, from which at first they would have recoiled with horror. And this is the just vengeance of God, after we have deprived ourselves of the assistance of the Holy Spirit, to allow Satan a violent exercise of power over us, that, having subdued and made us his slaves, he may drive us wherever he pleases. …

We ought also to observe, that almost in a single moment Peter thrice gave way; for this shows how unsteady we are, and how liable to fall, whenever Satan drives us. Certainly we shall never cease to fall, if the Lord do not stretch out his hand to uphold us. When the rigor of the grace of Christ was extinguished in Peter, whoever might afterwards meet hit and interrogate him about Christ, he would have been ready to deny a hundred or a thousand times. Although, then, it was very base in him to fall thrice, yet the Lord spared him by restraining the tongues of enemies from making additional attacks upon him. Thus, also, it is every day necessary for the Lord to bridle Satan, lest he overwhelm us with innumerable temptations; for though he does not cease to employ many instruments in assailing us, were it not that the Lord, paying regard to our weakness, restrains the violence of his rage, we would have to contend against a prodigious amount of temptations. In this respect, therefore, we ought to praise the mercy of the Lord, who does not permit our enemy to make advances against us, almost the hundredth part of what he would desire.

(Calvin, Matthew 26:72)

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… there were many Jews in Israel who were called wise men, but the star did not appear to any of them; rather it shone only on Gentile eyes, and led a chosen company from the ends of the earth to bow at Immanuel’s feet. Sovereignty in these cases clothed itself in the robes of mercy. It was a great mercy that regarded the low estate of the shepherds, and it was a far reaching mercy which gathered from lands which lay in darkness a company of men and allowed them to see God’s wonderful and blessed Savior.

Source: Spurgeon, The Wise Men, the Star, and the Savior


This is a great inducement to us to repent. There is nothing like the consideration of divine grace to break the heart, both for sin and from sin. That is evangelical repentance, that flows from a sight of Christ, from a sense of his love, and the hopes of pardon and forgiveness through him.

Source: Henry, ‘Matthew 3’


… the temptations which befall us are not accidental, or regulated by the will of Satan, without God’s permission; but that the Spirit of God presides over our contests as an exercise of our faith. This will aid us in cherishing the assured hope, that God, who is the supreme judge and disposer of the combat,  will not be unmindful of us, but will fortify us against those distresses, which he sees that we are unable to meet.

Source: Calvin, Matthew 4

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It may be you have prayed, and cried, and resolved, and vowed, but all without success, as you suppose; sin has broken through all: however, if you give not over, you shall prevail at last; you know not at what time God will come in with his grace, and Christ will manifest his love unto you as unto the poor woman [Matt. 15:22-28], after many a rebuke. It may be, after all, he will do it this day; and if not, he may do it another: do not despond. Take that word of Christ himself for your encouragement, Prov. 8:34, “Blessed is the man that hears me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors.” If you hear him, and wait, though you have not yet admission, but are kept at the gates and posts of the doors, yet in the issue you shall be blessed.

Source: John Owen, The Glory of Christ

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Christ sometimes, by some strong impulse of actual grace, recovers the soul from the very borders of sin… To show his saints what they are, their own weakness and infirmity, he sometimes suffers them to go to the very edge and brow of the hill and then causes them to hear a word behind them saying, ”This is the right way, walk in it,”—and that with power and efficacy, and so recovers them to himself.

Source: John Owen – from Of Communion With God, volume 2 of Works, page 143-144

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The Lord turned the captivity of Job.

(source: Job 42)

I asked the Lord to take it out of my heart and he did.

(source: Someone struggling with a hurt in their heart)

Lead us not into testing that confirms in sin but deliver us from Satan.

(source: Recent study on Matthew 6:13)

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