Hating family for Christ’s sake.

For many years I could not understand this but this message clarifies the important command of Christ because walking in the way of love includes abhorring evil (Romans 12:9).

Rev.Martyn McGeown

British Reformed Fellowship conference Cardiff July 2018.

July 21, 2018: “Hating Our Family: Necessary for Christian Discipleship” (Luke 14:25-27)

 

Introduction

 

In Luke 14:25-35 Jesus sets forth his uncompromising requirements for a disciple: “If any man [does not do this] he cannot be my disciple” (v. 26). “Whosoever [does not do this] cannot be my disciple” (v. 27). “So likewise, whosoever he be that [does not do this] cannot be my disciple” (v. 32).

Perhaps Christ’s words—at the beginning of a family conference—shock you. They should—they must. But, shocking or not, they must be heard: we must heed these words.

 

Jesus speaks about two things in verse 26—

First, “if any man come to me.” To come to Jesus is to believe in him. We come to Jesus by faith. Jesus does not require admirers—he requires believers.

Second—discipleship: “he cannot be my disciple” (v. 26). A disciple is one who learns from a master or a teacher. A disciple is an apprentice. Jesus is, in the words of the Heidelberg Catechism, “our chief prophet and teacher” (Q&A 31). As such, he demands exclusive devotion from all of his disciples. To be a disciple of Jesus is to learn from him, to submit to his teachings, to obey his will, to be under his lordship and authority, and to follow him wherever he leads us, even if it means suffering and death for us.

One thing that every disciple of Jesus must do is to hate his family. “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26).

Before we learn about the blessedness of family life and the responsibilities that we, as Christians, have in our families, we consider this calling: “Hating Our Family: Necessary for Christian Discipleship.”

 

The meaning

 

Negatively:  

 

If I asked you this evening whether you hate your family, I expect that for most of you the answer is “No.” I love my parents; I love my spouse; I love my children; and I love my siblings.

And—let me be clear—that is good; that is exactly how it must be.

Nevertheless, Christ commands us to hate our family members.

How can that be so—does Christ really mean that?

The hatred here must be clearly understood.

First, the hatred here is a holy, righteous, godly hatred. There is, actually, such a thing! Godly hatred is not a spiteful, malicious, nasty, mean-spirited hatred. Such wicked hatred, unlike godly hatred, manifests itself in cruel, cutting, bitter words or in harmful deeds, even in murder. The explanation of the Sixth Commandment given in the Heidelberg Catechism is as follows:

“What doth God require in the sixth commandment? That neither in thoughts, nor words, nor gestures, much less in deeds, I dishonor, hate, wound, or kill my neighbor” (Q&A 105). “God abhors… envy, hatred, anger, and desire of revenge” (Q&A 106). “He commands us to show patience, peace, meekness, mercy, and all kindness towards him” (Q&A 107).

A text such as this is never a justification for sinful behavior toward our family—a child may not quote this text to justify disobedience to his parents; a husband may not quote this text to justify cruelty or abuse of his wife; a wife may not quote this text to justify insubordination or disrespect for her husband; and siblings may not quote this text to justify their petty squabbles and fights.

Holy hatred for family does not exclude seeking our family’s good—especially our family’s salvation. Holy hatred does not exclude prayer for our family, kindness to them, and serving them in humility. Holy hatred does not exclude rebuking our family members when they sin and calling them to repentance and faith.

I hope that you can understand the difference between holy and unholy hatred.

 

Positively:

 

Second, the hatred of v. 26 includes two main actions—it requires (1) the forsaking of our family; and it requires (2) the cutting off of fellowship from our family. Jesus explains the meaning in v. 33: “So likewise whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath cannot be my disciple.”

 

First, then, when we hate our family, we forsake them for the sake of Christ.

To forsake is the decisive, deliberate rejection of something or someone: it is to separate oneself from something or someone; it is to put away something or someone from oneself. Hatred of family, therefore, is to reject our family’s influence, our family’s ideas, our family’s opinions, and our family’s beliefs if/when they conflict with the Word of Christ. The forsaking of family does not necessarily mean a physical separation from family, but it does mean a spiritual rejection of family in certain circumstances.

 

Second, we hate our family when we withdraw fellowship from them.

Hatred of earthly family is to refuse to have fellowship with them. Be careful—it is not to be unfriendly or to shun family, but it is to refuse spiritual fellowship when they do not share our Christian faith and when they do not help us to live a holy life; or worse when they oppose our Christian faith and when they actively hinder us in living a holy life.

For the sake of Christ, a disciple must oppose his family, reject them, and refuse to have fellowship with them. He may have social discourse with them, but he may not fellowship with them.

 

To be clear: Christ is not calling a believer to cut off fellowship from his believing spouse. He does not command believing parents to cut off fellowship from their covenant children. He does not demand that believing siblings cut off fellowship from one another. In fact, believers must fellowship together in the home and in the church. But where fellowship with anyone—including family—conflicts with devotion to Christ, then family must be forsaken and fellowship must be cut off.

 

That is the meaning of hatred in another important passage:

 

“Surely thou wilt slay the wicked, O God: depart from me, therefore, ye bloody men; for they speak against thee wickedly, and thine enemies take thy name in vain. Do not I hate them, O LORD, that hate thee? And am not I grieved with those that rise up against thee? I hate them with a perfect hatred: I count them mine enemies” (Ps. 139:19-22).

 

David hated God’s enemies—“the wicked,” “bloody men.” Some of those enemies of God were members of his family. How did his hatred manifest itself? He refused fellowship with them—“Depart from me” (v. 19), he said. Notice, David does not say, “I will slay the wicked,” but “Thou wilt slay the wicked.” Notice, David does not say, “Do not I hate them, O LORD, that hate me?” but “that hate thee.” He does not say, “Am not I grieved with those that rise up against me?” but “against thee.”

One who loves God will not fellowship with those who show that they hate God—if our family shows enmity toward God, we respond by saying to our father, mother, wife, children, brothers, and sisters, “Depart from me. I cannot have fellowship with you. We do not share a like precious faith.”

That is hatred for our family.

Examples

 

To make Christ’s command clear, I give some illustrations of how this works in practice:

First, a Muslim or a Hindu is converted to Christ: his family threatens to disown him, disinherit him, and even kill him. He must forsake his family and follow Christ even if all the members of his family become his enemies. (This happens often in foreign lands—it also happens in the UK).

Second, a husband is converted and starts to follow Christ. His unbelieving wife opposes his conversion: “If you loved me,” she says, “you would forsake Christ for me. If you loved me, you would stop praying, reading the Bible, and going to church—do it for me!” Such a Christian husband must hate his wife in this sense: he must reject her, oppose her, refuse to listen to her, and follow Christ despite her vehement opposition, even when she makes his life a misery.

Third, a young man begins to date a young woman. “If you loved me,” she says, “you would stop going to that church and come to a liberal church to please me!” That young man should hate his girlfriend in this sense: he should break off his relationship with her as soon as he sees that she is a hindrance to his Christian walk. Such a woman is not a suitable person for a godly young man to marry.

Fourth, a family member calls you on the Lord’s Day and invites you to a recreational event. He does this in order to tempt you away from the worship of God. You tell your family member, “Today is the Lord’s Day: I will be at church today. You are welcome to come along with me, but I will not skip church to please you.”

Do not think, though, that this applies only when an unbelieving family member attempts to persuade a believer to be unfaithful to Christ. The same principle applies even within Christian homes and families.

If a husband tries foolishly to lead his wife into sin (think Abraham encouraging his wife to lie), she must oppose him. If a wife tries foolishly to lead her husband into sin (think Job’s wife and Abraham’s wife), he must oppose her. If parents try to lead children into sin (think Jacob’s mother), they must refuse. If siblings try to lead one another into sin (think Joseph’s brothers), they must resist. In that sense, Christ requires hatred for the family member.

This often happens with respect to church membership: often one spouse, who is spiritually stronger, desires to attend a faithful church, but the spiritually weaker spouse or the spiritually weaker children oppose the idea: they are content to remain in a less faithful church. They have no desire to worship Christ in a faithful church, or at least their desire never moves them to seek out a join a faithful church. Christ says—seek to please me and not your family!

Oppose, forsake, reject, and hate your family for Christ’s sake.

 

The cost of discipleship

 

This is simply part of the cost of discipleship. Jesus summarizes the cost in v. 27: “Whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.” To bear one’s cross is to undergo painful self-denial for the sake of Christ. It is to crucify your desires, preferences, ambitions, and plans in order to follow Jesus Christ, whose will becomes your will.

But in following Jesus Christ, there will be opposition—often the greatest opposition will be at home from one’s family. Then we say: Jesus is Lord: we are not Lord; our family is not Lord; only Jesus is Lord.

When a person hears the gospel, and when he understands the demands of Christ, one of his first questions is this: “If I believe this, if I become a Christian, what will my family say?” Christ answers: “It does not matter what your family says—follow me!” “Your family might be highly displeased; your parents might disown you; your spouse might divorce you; your children might hate you; and the other members of your family might oppose you—follow me!”

Notice, too, that this instruction is not only for a certain class of disciple, but for all disciples of Jesus. There are not two categories of Christian: the entrance level, middle class Christian with a comfortable, carefree lifestyle, and the serious, committed, self-denying, cross-bearing Christian. ALL Christians practice self-denial; ALL Christians carry the cross; and ALL Christians hate their family in the sense described in Luke 14—“If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple” (v. 27).

 

Reasons for the difficulty

 

This is a difficult calling because we naturally love our father, and that natural love for our family is good. Nevertheless, Jesus says about his mission: “Think not that am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword” (Matt. 10:34). That sword cuts even though families. Christ divides families—he saves one family member, but he does not save another. The result is enmity between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent in our families.

Moreover, when he saves us, he does not immediately deliver us from the old man of sin. The result is enmity between our old man and our new man. The result is also enmity between the old man of our father, mother, children, and siblings and our new man. And that is very painful!

Let me ask—if your spouse or children or parents or brother or sister (God forbid!) were guilty of sin, refused to repent, and were placed under discipline, would you take the side of your family or Christ’s side (assuming the discipline is lawful and correct)? Or would you leave the church with them in order to protect them?

If your wife threatened to divorce you and take the children, unless you followed her into sin, would you follow her or follow Christ? Do not say that these things never happen—they happen often in the church!

The calling is painful not only because of our natural affection for our family, but also because scorned family members can make life very difficult for the faithful disciple of Christ.

A scorned wife can vex her husband; a disappointed husband can vex his wife. The Christian has to live with the scorned spouse! Although Samson and Delilah were not married, the principle is similar: “And it came to pass, when she pressed him daily with her words, and urged him, so that his soul was vexed unto death” (Judges 16:16). How easy to surrender to sin for the sake of a quiet life! The same us true of our relationship to our other family members—we pay a real cost when we oppose the wishes of our family for the sake of Jesus Christ. The result is painful, sometimes even violent, arguments and threats around the family table!

And remember, too, the calling for consistency—hatred for family is a lifelong calling. It is not enough to refuse your family once, but you must continue to oppose them. They are waiting for you to give in—and if you compromise once, they will find it easier to persuade you to compromise further and further, until your Christian testimony is all but ruined. There must be self-denial every day; there must be the daily bearing of the cross; there must be holy hatred for our family every day; until we exchange the cross for a crown of glory.

 

The Motivation

 

What motivates a believer to do this? How can we have strength for this? The answer is the Spirit of Jesus. The Spirit of Jesus Christ enables us to love Jesus. Love for Jesus enables us to hate our family where love for family would interfere with our love for Jesus.

Remember the one who is speaking here—it is Jesus, the Son of God. The Son of God is worthy of the strictest demands on your life. If anyone else made such demands, you would view him as an egotistical megalomaniac. But Jesus, the Lord, the Son of God, he is worthy of this.

Moreover, Jesus gave his life on the cross for you. Your spouse did not; your children did not; your brothers and sisters did not; your parents did not. Only Jesus did. Therefore, your whole allegiance belongs to him—and must belong to him. You are purchased with a price. Therefore, he requires your exclusive allegiance, loyalty, and obedience, even when your family and the whole world object.

And remember that Jesus leads by example. When Jesus was 12 years old, respectfully, kindly, submissively, but firmly and clearly, Jesus told Mary and Joseph, “I must be about my Father’s business” (Luke 2:4). When Mary interfered with his Father’s business at the wedding in Cana, Jesus rejected his mother’s interference, “Woman: what have I to do with thee? Mine hour is not yet come” (John 2:4). When his mother and siblings tried to interrupt his public ministry, he rejected them, “Who is my mother? And who are my brethren?” he said. And pointing to his disciples (and not his earthly relatives) he said, “Behold my mother and my brethren” (Matt. 12:48-50).

Therefore, only one thing can drive out misplaced love and loyalty for family and induce us to a holy hated for them—love for Jesus Christ. Hatred is never good for its own sake. Holy hatred is for the sake of love for Jesus.

Christ renounced his own will in order to do his Father’s will, even though doing his Father’s will upset his mother, his brethren, and his closest friends. And even though his Father’s will brought him to the cross. So love your family—be kind to them—but be prepared to hate them if they oppose Christ.

That is true Christian discipleship. Amen.

 

 

 

 

Foreboding

Meaning: a feeling that something bad will happen; fearful apprehension.

The Lord Jesus Christ is good and doeth good especially to his own all the time, so away with foreboding and fear to which we are so liable. Eternal life, blessing, abundant grace, daily wisdom and light are ours. What is it you fear? A serious accident, illness, persecution, loss of friends or family, dying? All things are yours…

Q. 1. Heidelberg Catechism-What is thy only comfort in life and death?
A. That I with body and soul,1 both in life and death, am not my own,2 but belong unto my faithful Savior Jesus Christ;3 who, with His precious blood,4 hath fully satisfied for all my sins,5 and delivered me from all the power of the devil;6 and so preserves me7 that without the will of my heavenly Father, not a hair can fall from my head;8 yea, that all things must be subservient to my salvation,9 and therefore, by His Holy Spirit, He also assures me of eternal life,10 and makes me sincerely willing and ready, henceforth, to live unto Him.11

Oh how great is thy goodness, which thou hast laid up for them that fear thee; which thou hast wrought for them that trust in thee before the sons of men! Psalm 31:19

 

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever. Psalm 23:6

 

For thou hast made him most blessed for ever: thou hast made him exceeding glad with thy countenance. Psalm 21:6

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Last blogpost on Brooks treatise Precious Remedies against Satan’s devices.

The conclusion: FIVE REASONS WHY WE ARE TEMPTED.

Reason (1). That our hearts may be kept in a humble, praying, watching frame.

Oh! has Satan so many devices to ensnare and undo the souls of men? How should this awaken dull, drowsy souls, and make them stand upon their watch! A Christian should be like the seraphim, beset all over with eyes and lights, that he may avoid Satan’s snares, and stand fast in the hour of temptation.

The Lord has in the Scripture discovered the several snares, plots, and devices that the devil has to undo the souls of men, that so, being forewarned, they may be forearmed; that they may be always upon their watch-tower, and hold their weapons in their hands, as the Jews did in Nehemiah’s time.

2). To expose the malice, envy, and enmity that is in Satan against the souls of men.

Satan is full of envy and enmity, and that makes him very studious to suit his snares and plots to the tempers, constitutions, fancies, and callings of men, that so he may make them as miserable as himself.

Reason (3). The third reason is drawn from that long experience that Satan has had.

He is a spirit of mighty abilities; and his abilities to lay snares before us are mightily increased by that long standing of his. He is a spirit of over five thousand years’ standing. He has had time enough to study all those ways and methods which tend most to ensnare and undo the souls of men. And as he has time enough, so he has made it his whole study, his only study, his constant study, to find out snares, traps, and stratagems, to entangle and overthrow the souls of men. When he was but a young serpent, he did easily deceive and outwit our first parents. But now he is grown into that ‘old serpent,’ as John speaks (Rev. 12:9). He is as old as the world, and is grown very cunning by experience.

Reason (4). God judges the men of the world, that they may stumble and fall, and be ensnared forever.

Wicked men who withstand the offers of mercy, and despise the Spirit of grace; who will not open, though God knocks ever so hard by his Word and rod, by his Spirit and conscience—are given up by a hand of justice, to be hardened, deceived, and ensnared by Satan, to their everlasting ruin (1 Kings 22:23). And what can be more just than that they should be taken and charmed with Satan’s wiles, who have frequently refused to be charmed by the Spirit of grace, though he has charmed ever so wisely, and ever so sweetly?

Reason (5). To show the excellency and power of God’s grace illustrated and manifested, by making his people able to grapple with this mighty adversary, and that notwithstanding all the plots, devices, and stratagems of Satan, yet he will make them victorious here, and crown them with glory hereafter. I Cor.10:13,Romans 16;20, James 4:7. PTL!

The greater and the subtler the enemies of the children of Israel were—the more did divine power, wisdom, and goodness, sparkle and shine; and that, notwithstanding all their power, plots, and stratagems, yet to Canaan God would bring them at last. When Paul had weighed this, he sits down and glories in his infirmities and distresses and Satan’s buffetings—that the power of Christ might rest upon him (2 Cor. 12:7-9).

Thanks to Thomas Brooks who being dead yet speaketh. Great work.

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Proposition 5.

Satan known by his names: sometimes called Behemoth, whereby the greatness and brutishness of the devil is figured (Job 40:15). Called the accuser of the brethren for their slanders; and evil ones, for their malice. Satan is an
adversary, that troubles and molests (1 Pet. 5:8). Abaddon is a destroyer (Rev. 9:11). He and his evil spirits are tempters, for their suggestions; lions, for their devouring; dragons, for their cruelty; and serpents, for their subtlety. As his names are, so is he; as face answers to face, so do Satan’s names answer to his nature. He has the worst names and the worst nature of all created creatures.


Proposition 6: God will shortly tread down Satan under the saints’ feet.Christ, our champion, has already won the field, and will shortly set our feet upon the necks of our spiritual enemies. Satan is a foiled adversary. Christ has led him captive, and triumphed over him upon the cross. Christ has already overcome him, and put weapons into your hands, that you may overcome him also, and set your feet upon his
neck. Though Satan be a roaring lion, yet Christ, who is the lion of the tribe of Judah, will make Satan fly and fall before you. Let Satan do his worst, yet you shall have the honour and the happiness to triumph over him. Cheer up, you precious sons of Zion, for the certainty and sweetness of victory will abundantly recompense you for all the pains you have taken in making resistance against Satan’s temptations. The broken horns of Satan shall be trumpets of our triumph and the coronets of our joy. “The God of
“The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.” Romans 16:20. The Greek word signifies to break or crash a thing to pieces. Being applied to the feet—it means that crushing which is by stamping upon a thing.

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Brooks now hits on the key to defeating Satan and living in victory:

Proposition (4). That no weapons but spiritual weapons can be used effectively against the devil.

This the apostle shows: ‘Therefore take unto you,’ says he, ‘the whole armour of God, that you may be able to stand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand’ (Eph. 6:13). So the same apostle tells you, ‘That the weapons of your warfare are not carnal—but mighty through God, to the casting down of strongholds (in the mind!-JK)’ (2 Cor. 10:4). David’s faith in the name of the Lord Almighty defeated Goliath. ‘You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a shield—but I have come to you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied’ (1 Sam. 17:45).

The only way to stand, conquer, and triumph, is still to plead, ‘It is written,’ as Christ did (Matt. 4:10). There is no sword but the two-edged sword of the Spirit, that will be found to be metal of proof when a soul comes to engage against Satan; therefore, when you are tempted to impurity, plead, ‘It is written, be holy, as I am holy’ (1 Peter 1:16); and, ‘Let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of the Lord’ (2 Cor. 7:1). If he tempts you to distrust God’s providence and fatherly care of you, plead, It is written, ‘Those who fear the Lord shall lack no good thing.’ (Psalm 34:9).

It is written, ‘The Lord will give grace and glory, and no good thing will he withhold from those who live purely’ (Psalm 84:11).

If he tempts you to fear that you shall faint, and fall, and never be able to run to the end of the race that is set before you, plead, It is written, ‘The righteous shall hold on his way, and he who has clean hands shall be stronger and stronger’ (Job. 17:9).

It is written, ‘I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them, to do them good—but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they may not depart from me’ (Jer. 32:40).

It is written, ‘Those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint’ (Is. 40:31).

If Satan tempts you to think that because your sun for the present is set in a cloud, that therefore it will rise no more, and that the face of God will shine upon you no more; that your best days are now at an end, and that you must spend all your time in sorrow and sighing; plead, It is written, ‘He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us, and cast all our sins into the depth of the sea’ (Micah 7:19).

It is written, ‘For a small moment have I forsaken you—but with great mercies will I gather you. In a little wrath I hid my face from you for a moment—but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on you, says the Lord, your Redeemer’ (Is. 54:8, 10).

It is written, ‘The mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed—but my kindness shall not depart from you, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, says the Lord who has mercy on you.’

It is written, ‘Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yes, they may forget, yet will not I forget you. Behold, I have engraved you upon the palms of my hands, your walls are continually before me’ (Is. 49:15, 16).

If ever you would be too hard for Satan, and after all his assaults, have your bow abide in strength, then take to yourself the Word of God, which is ‘the two-edged sword of the Spirit, and the shield of faith, whereby you shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the devil’ (Eph. 6:17). Satan will certainly fly from you (James 4:7).

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Proposition (2). That Satan has a great hand and stroke in most (?all-JK) sins.

It was Satan who tempted our first parents to rebellion. It was Satan who provoked David to number the people. It was Satan who put Peter upon rebuking Christ; therefore says Christ, ‘Get behind me, Satan’. It was Satan who put Cain upon murdering of righteous Abel, therefore it is that he is called ‘a murderer from the beginning’. It was Satan who put treason into the heart of Judas against Christ, ‘And supper being ended, the devil having put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him’. It was Satan who put Ananias upon lying; Peter said, ‘Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit?’ (Gen. 3:1-5; 1 Chron. 21:1; Matt. 16:22, 23; John 8:44, 13:2; Acts 5:3)

As the hand of Joab was in the tale of the woman of Tekoah, so Satan’s hand is usually in all the sins that men commit. Such is Satan’s malice against God, and his envy against man, that he will have a hand one way or other in all the sins, though he knows that all the sins he provokes others to shall be charged upon him to his greater woe, and eternal torment.

Proposition (3). That Satan must have a double permission before he can do anything against us.

He must have permission from God, and permission from ourselves, before he can do anything against our happiness. He must have his permission from God, as you may see in the example of Job (Job 1:11, 12; 2:3-5). Though the devil had malice enough to destroy him, yet he had not so much as power to touch him, until God gave him permission.

They could not so much as enter into the swine without permission from Christ (Luke 8:32). Satan would gladly have combated with Peter—but this he could not do without leave. ‘Satan has desired to have you, to winnow you’ (Luke 22:31). So Satan could never have overthrown Ahab and Saul—but by permission from God (1 Kings 22). Ah! what a cordial, what a comfort should this be to the saints—that their greatest, subtlest, and most vigilant enemy cannot hurt nor harm them, without permission from him who is their sweetest Saviour, their dearest husband, and their choicest friend.

And as Satan must have permission from God, so he must have permission from us. When he tempts, we must assent; when he makes offers, we must hearken; when he commands, we must obey, or else all his labour and temptations will be frustrated, and the evil that he tempts us to shall be put down only to his account. That is a remarkable passage in Acts 5:3, ‘Why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit?’ He does not expostulate the matter with Satan; he does not say, Satan, ‘Why have you filled Ananias’s heart to make him lie to the Holy Spirit?’ but he expostulates the case with Ananias; Peter said, ‘Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit?’ Why have you given him an advantage to fill your heart with infidelity, hypocrisy, and obstinate audacity, to lie to the Holy Spirit? As if he had said, Satan could never have done this in you, which will now forever undo you, unless you had given him permission.

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Brooks now comes near to his conclusion:

SIX CONCLUSIONS CONCERNING SATAN AND HIS DEVICES

Proposition (1). That though Satan has his devices to draw souls to sin, yet we must be careful that we do not lay all our temptations upon Satan neglecting the lust of our own base hearts.

‘And the Lord said unto the woman, What is this that you have done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat’ (Gen. 3:13). Sin and shifting of blame came into the world together. This is no small baseness of our hearts, that they will blame that naughtiness upon Satan. Man has an evil root within him; that were there no devil to tempt him, nor no wicked men in the world to entice him, yet that root of bitterness, that cursed sinful nature which is in him, would draw him to sin, though he knows beforehand that ‘the wages of sin is eternal death’ (Rom. 6:23). ‘For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornication, thefts, false witness, blasphemies’ (Matt. 15:19). The understanding of man is dark, the will wicked, the memory slippery, the affections crooked, the conscience corrupted, the tongue poisoned, and the heart wholly evil, only evil, and continually evil. Should God chain up Satan, and give him no liberty to tempt or entice people to vanity or folly, yet they could not but sin against him, by reason of that cursed nature that is in them, that will still be a-provoking them to those sins that will provoke and stir up the anger of God against them (Jude 15, 16).

Satan may tempt us—but without ourselves he cannot conquer us; he may entice us—but without ourselves he cannot hurt us. Our hearts carry the greatest guilt in every sin. Satan can never undo a man without himself; but a man may easily undo himself without Satan. Satan can only present the golden cup—but he has no power to force us to drink the poison that is in the cup; he can only present to us the glory of the world, he cannot force us to fall down and worship him, to enjoy the world; he can only spread his snares, he has no power to force us to walk in the midst of his snares. Therefore do the devil so much right, as not to excuse yourselves, by your accusing him, and laying the load upon him, that you should lay upon your own hearts.

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Brooks now turns to the characteristics of false teachers who are the source of much evil, temptation, backsliding and the damnation of themselves and sinners who listen to them.

 SEVEN CHARACTERISTICS OF FALSE TEACHERS

Satan labours powerfully by false teachers, which are his emissaries, to deceive, delude, and forever undo the precious souls of men (Jer. 23:13) ‘I have seen folly in the prophets of Samaria; they prophesied in Baal, and caused my people Israel to err.’ Micah 3:5: ‘The prophets make my people to err.’ They seduce them, and carry them out of the right way into by-paths and blind thickets of error, blasphemy, and wickedness, where they are lost forever. ‘Beware of false prophets, for they come to you in sheep’s clothing—but inwardly they are ravening wolves’ (Matt. 7:15). These lick and suck the blood of souls (Phil. 3:2), ‘Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers.’ These kiss and kill; these cry, Peace, peace, until souls fall into everlasting flames! (Prov. 7). (Acts. 20:28-30; 2 Cor. 11:13-15; Eph. 4:14; 2 Tim. 3:4-6; Titus 1:11, 22; 2 Peter 2:18,19.)

Now the best way to deliver poor souls from being deluded and destroyed by these messengers of Satan is, to expose them so, being known, poor souls may shun them, and fly from them as from hell itself.

Now you may know them by these characters following:

[1.] False teachers are men-pleasers.

Such are not true teachers; Gal. 1:10, 1 Thess. 2:1-4. They preach more to please the ear than to profit the heart (Is. 30:10): ‘Who say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things: speak to us smooth things; prophesy deceits.’ Jer. 5:30, 31: “A horrible and shocking thing has happened in the land: The prophets prophesy lies, the priests rule by their own authority, and my people love it this way. But what will you do in the end?” Jeremiah 5:30-31. False teachers handle holy things rather with wit and trifling, rather than with fear and reverence. False teachers are soul-murderers. Flattering words do all the mischief, they are sweet soul-poisoners. “This is my warning to my people,” says the Lord Almighty. ‘Do not listen to these prophets when they prophesy to you, filling you with futile hopes. They are making up everything they say. They do not speak for the Lord! They keep saying to these rebels who despise my word, ‘Don’t worry! The Lord says you will have peace!’ And to those who stubbornly follow their own evil desires, they say, ‘No harm will come your way!'” (Jer. 23:16, 17). Among these are those who promise health and wealth and preach free will and a universal love of God-JK

[2.] False teachers are notable for reproach upon Christ’s most faithful ambassadors.

Thus Korah, Dathan, and Abiram charged Moses and Aaron that they took too much upon them, seeing all the congregation was holy (Num. 16:3). You take too much state, too much power, too much honour, too much holiness upon you; for what are you more than others, that you take so much upon you? And so Ahab’s false prophets fell foul on good Micaiah, paying of him with blows for lack of better reasons (1 Kings 22:10-26). Yes, Paul, that great apostle of the Gentiles, had his ministry undermined and his reputation blasted by false teachers: ‘For his letters,’ say they, ‘are weighty and
powerful—but his bodily presence is weak and his speech contemptible’ (2 Cor. 10:10). They rather condemn him than admire him; they look upon him as a dunce rather than a doctor. Christ and his servants have filth and scorn thrown upon them of whom the world is not worthy!

[3.] False teachers invent devices and visions of their own heads and hearts.

Benny Hinn and Joyce Meyer are cases in point as regards descent into hell etc-JK. Jer. 14:14: “Then the Lord said unto me—These prophets are telling lies in my name. I did not send them or tell them to speak. I did not give them any messages. They prophesy of visions and revelations they have never seen or heard. They speak foolishness made up in their own lying hearts.” “This is my warning to my people,” says the Lord Almighty. “Do not listen to these prophets when they prophesy to you, filling you with futile hopes. They are making up everything they say. They do not speak for the Lord!” Jeremiah 23:16. Harold Camping’s false prophecy was another recent case in the USA. Matt. 24:4,5; Titus 1:10; Rom. 16:18

[4.] False teachers major on minors and legalism.

1 Tim. 1:5-7: ‘Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith sincere; from which some having swerved, have turned aside unto vain jangling, desiring to be teachers of the law, and understand neither what they say nor whereof they affirm.’ Matt. 23:23: ‘Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites; for you pay tithe of mint, and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith; these ought you to have done, and not to leave the other undone.’ False teachers are nice in the lesser things of the law, and as negligent in the greater. 1 Tim. 6:3-5: ‘If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness, he is proud, knowing nothing—but doting about questions and strife of words, whereof comes envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw yourself.’ Such teachers are hypocrites. (Rom. 2:22). The earth groans to bear them, and hell is fitted for them (Matt. 24:32). Luther complained of such in his time as would strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel. This age is full of such teachers, such monsters! The high priest’s spirit (Matt. 23:24) lives and thrives in these days.

[5.] False teachers cover and colour their dangerous principles and soul deceptions with very fair speeches and plausible pretences, with high notions and golden expressions.

Many in these days are bewitched and deceived by the magnificent words, lofty strains, and stately terms of deceivers. As strumpets paint their faces, and deck and perfume their beds, the better to allure and deceive simple souls; so false teachers will put a great deal of paint and garnish upon their most dangerous principles and blasphemies, that they may the better deceive and delude poor ignorant souls. They know sugared poison goes down sweetly; they wrap up their pernicious, soul-killing pills in gold! (Gal. 6:12; 2 Cor. 11:13-15; Rom. 16:17, 18; Matt. 16:6,11,12; 7:15.)

[6.] False teachers strive more to win over men to their opinions, than to better them in their lives.

Matt. 23:15: ‘Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, you make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves!’ They busy themselves most about men’s heads. Their work is not to better men’s hearts, and mend their lives; and in this they are very much like their father the devil, who will spare no pains to gain proselytes.

[7.] False teachers make merchandise of their followers.

“But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them–bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.” 2 Peter 2:13. They eye your goods more than your good; and mind more the serving of themselves, than the saving of your souls. So they may have your substance, they care not though Satan has your souls (Rev. 18:11-13). That they may the better pick your purse, they will hold forth such principles as are very indulgent to the flesh. False teachers are the great worshippers of the golden calf. “From the least to the greatest, all are greedy for gain; prophets and priests alike, all practice deceit.” (Jer. 6:13). Crates threw his money into the sea, resolving to drown it, lest it should drown him. But false teachers care not who they drown—so they may have their money.

Now, by these characters you may know them, and so shun them, and deliver your souls out of their dangerous snares.

Well said back in the 1600s and applies for all of NT age-JK

Precious Remedies (44)

DEVICE 5: By making a sinner mind more the secret decrees and counsels of God, that is whether he is elect or not, rather than his own duty.

Why should you receive and embrace Christ? says Satan; if you are elected, you shall be saved; if not, all that you can do will do you no good. No, he will work the soul not only to doubt of its election—but to conclude that he is not elected, and therefore, let him do what he can, he shall never be saved.

Remedy (1). The first remedy against this device of Satan is, seriously to consider, That not all the angels in heaven, nor all the men an earth, nor all the devils in hell know whether you are an elect person, a chosen vessel. You may be confident of this, that God never made Satan one of his privy council, God never acquainted him with the names of such that he has set his love upon to eternity.

Remedy (2). The second remedy against this device of Satan is, not to meddle with that which you have to do. ‘Secret things belong to the Lord—but revealed things belong to you’ (Deut. 29:29). Your work, sinner, is, to be prompt in believing, and in returning to the Lord; your work is to cast yourself upon Christ, lie at his feet, to wait on him in his ways; and to give him no rest until he shall say, Sinner, I am your portion, I am your salvation—and nothing shall separate between you and me.

And if you are a believer-your job is to make your calling and election sure (II Peter 1:10).