Like X-Factor, we have been on a long journey. And we’ve made it to the final two. Today, we’re going to cover the two remaining devices Brooks identifies. We’re going to skim through the remedies that the gospel offers us. So, without further ado:
Device Nine: Such-and-Such.
Recently, I’ve been reliving 2005 through a TV show called Veronica Mars. It’s a crime-drama, set in the town of Neptune’s high-school. Often, characters justify their actions by comparing themselves to others. Sure, Weevil runs the biker-gang. Sure, Weevil beats-up everyone in his path. But: Weevil is ok. Why? Well, unlike other gangs, Weevil refuses any part in Neptune’s drug trade. Weevil’s criminality is justified because there’s ‘worse’ crime down the street.
Do you justify yourself by “frequent comparing [of yourself and your ways] with those that are reputed to be worse than [yourself]” (89)? Brooks points us to the Pharisee in Luke 18:11. Thank goodness he’s better than the vile tax-collector, right? In this device, Satan points us to the “such-and-suches” of our social circle (89). You only deceive your friend a little; such-and-such keeps deceiving your friend a lot. You only overeat a little; such-and-such won’t stop eating. “You are only a little proud in heart and habit”; such-and-such is proud “in looks and words” (89). We listen to the lie: if you’re just slightly better than such-and-such, then God will accept you.
How does the gospel remedy this? Brooks identifies three key remedies:
Remedy #1: seriously consider that hypocrites are quick-sighted abroad and blind at home.
Jesus helpfully defines hypocrisy as the ability to see a speck of dust in someone else’s eye, while failing to identify the great big log sticking out of, and pressing down on, your own eye (Matthew 7:3-4). If you justify yourself by picking apart other people’s sores, you’re a hypocrite in need of help.
Remedy #2: seriously consider all your actions in light of God’s Word.
“The man that, comparing his self with others that are worse than himself, may seem to himself and others, to be an angel; yet comparing himself with the Word, may see himself to be like the devil”. God’s Word picks apart our self-justifying righteousness. If you hear Satan’s lie – “you’re ok because everyone else is worse” – pick up your Bible, listen to God’s voice, remember that your self-made righteousness is shoddy and filthy and broken, and turn to Christ – our fountain of righteousness.
Remedy #3: seriously consider that without repentance, your sin isn’t dealt with.
Regardless of other people’s lifestyle, all sin is total rebellion against God. All sin demands that we are “shut out [forever] from the glorious presence of God…and shut up in hell forever (91)”. Rather than justify ourselves by looking at such-and-such, our duty is to repent by looking to Christ. “The God of Israel is very merciful…[if you] repent and return, your souls [will] live forever” (91). If we’re listening to this particular lie of Satan, we will not truly repent. Together, we must view all sin as total rebellion against God. Together, we must stop comparing ourselves to each other. Together, we must repent by looking, with great confidence, to Christ.
Device Ten: Error! Error!
In the classic Simpsons episode, “Trilogy of Error”, Lisa builds a robot called Linguo. Linguo is designed to correct error in grammar. Unfortunately, Linguo runs into the Italian Mob (Springfield is a crazy town!). Confronted by split infinitives, incorrect pluralisation, and the misuse of “me” and “I”, Linguo exclaims: “Bad grammar overload! Error! Error!”. He then, promptly, explodes.
Satan seeks to conquer us, not by grammatical error, but by “dangerous errors…that carry the souls of men to all looseness and wickedness” (92). These “Christ-dishonouring and soul-undoing” errors include (92): that the sacraments are low things, better to be lived without; that Scripture is full of logical fallacies and uncertainty; that man doesn’t need Christ-the-Mediator to worship God; that the resurrection has already occurred; that Jesus is simply an allegory; that there is no sin in the saints; that sin and grace are two, equally good, sides of the same coin; “with a hundred other horrid [errors] which [cause] wickedness to break in as a flood among us” (92). How does Christ preserve His people from error?
Remedy #1: seriously receive Christ’s truth and let it affectionately dwell in your souls.
The truth of the gospel fires up our hearts. Truth fuels our affections. Truth increases our love for Christ. We’re called to seriously receive Christ’s truth and allow it to fuel our soul’s affections. We receive truth when we gather together to hear God’s truth preached, and to share God’s truth around the Table. We receive truth when we gather together in our families for worship. We receive truth when we privately study God’s Word and pray. Let truth fuel your affections. “There are no men on earth so fenced against error as those that receive the truth in the love of it” (93). As truth impacts our hearts, our joy in that truth guards us from error.
Remedy #2: seriously keep humble.
“Humility will keep the soul free from many darts of Satan’s casting and the erroneous snares of his spreading” (97). The God of all truth delights to dwell with His humble people. God “leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way” (Psalm 25:9). Pride weakens our hearts to make room for error. Pride refuses to recognise the Creator-creature distinction. Pride craves knowledge above its capacity; pride blames God for its incapacity to comprehend this truth. Therefore, pride takes its limited deductions and claims understanding. So: in humility, we accept the Creator-creature distinction. In humility, we recognise our finitude. In humility, we ask that the God of all light and truth exposes our hearts to His truth and light. In humility, we ask that God fills us to the fullness of our capacity. In humility, we are utterly dependent on God and His revelation; a revelation that is supremely visible in Christ, and brought to us by His Spirit. Humility before God guards us from error.
So: we’ve made it. We’ve considered ten of Satan’s Devices, according to Brooks. We’ve considered oodles of remedies. So, the question stands: will I be committed to fighting my sin? Will you be committed to standing against Satan? May the gospel be thoroughly be applied to every aspect of our lives.