Third reason we must resist.
The Christian’s safety lies in resisting.
All the armour here provided is to defend the Christian fighting, not to secure him flying. There is no armour on the back to protect the coward! ‘The just shall live by faith, but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.’Heb. 10:38. Better to die sword in hand than be executed under God’s wrath.
Satan can only be dealt with by resisting. God is an enemy that is overcome by yielding; the devil only by force of arms.
1. He is a cowardly enemy. Though he sets a bold face on it by tempting, he carries a fearful heart in his breast. As a thief is afraid of every light he sees, or noise he hears, in the house he would rob, so Satan is discouraged where he finds the soul waking, and in any posture to oppose him. He fears you, Christian, more than you him; ‘Jesus I know, and Paul I know,’ Acts 19:15; that is, I know them to my shame, they have both put me to flight, and if ye were such as they, I should fear you also. Believe it, soul, he trembles at thy faith. Put it forth in prayer to call for help to heaven against him, and exert it vigorously by rejecting the motions he makes, and thou shalt see him run. The Spirit knows well enough what goes on in the devil’s camp—sends this intelligence unto every soul that is beleaguered by temptations,‘Resist the devil, and he will flee from you,’ James 4:7. He cannot hurt us without our leave. No way to be rid of him but to shut the door upon him, and deny all discourse with him; which prompts to the second character.
2. He is an encroaching enemy, and therefore to be resisted. ‘Let not the sun go down upon your wrath,’ saith the apostle, ‘neither give place to the devil,’ Eph. 4:26,27. By yielding in one temptation we let the devil into our trench, and give him a fair advantage to do us the more mischief. The angry man while he is raging and raving, thinks that to ease his passion by disgorging it in some bitter keen words, but alas while his fury and wrath is sallying out at the portal of his lips, the devil finding the door open, enters and hurries him farther than he dreamt of. Our best way, therefore, is to give him no hand-hold, not so much as to come near the door where sin dwells, lest we be hooked in. If we mean not to be burned, let us not walk upon the coals of temptation;—if not to be tanned, let us not stand where the sun lies. They surely forget what an insinuating wriggling nature this serpent hath, that dare yield to him in something, and make us believe they will not in another—who will sit in the company of drunkards, frequent the places where the sin is committed, and yet pretend they mean not to be such?—that will prostitute their eyes to unchaste objects, and yet be chaste?—that will prostitute their eyes to unchaste objects, and yet be chaste?—that will lend their ears to any corrupt doctrine of the times, and yet be sound in the faith? This is a strong delusion that such are under.
3. He is an accusing enemy. What a tell-tale the devil is, by yielding to his temptation, you give him ammunition with which he may accuse you to God. Take up therefore holy Job’s resolution, ‘My righteousness I hold fast,…my heart shall not reproach me so long as I live,’ Job 27:6. Conscience, not the devil, is the bloodhound that pulls down the creature. O let not that reproach thee, and thou art well enough.