28 April, 2013
I would now invite your attention to a subject of deep importance, yet of great and awful mysteriousness; I mean, the agency of Satan in our temptations to sin. —he is ever tempting the children of Adam to sin, and following up, as far as permitted, his first success in the garden of Eden.
In what manner Satan tempts men to sin is a deep mystery. That in some way he has access to the human mind is clear, else how could he tempt at all, since he does not appear personally and solicit to iniquity? Peter in addressing Ananias said to him, "Why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit?" Acts 5:3. Still the mode of his operation is concealed from us. We are very imperfectly acquainted with the nature of our own spirits; and how another spirit can act upon us, is a mystery not to be explained.
The manner in which Satan and his influence are described in the word of God, and the earnestness with which we are admonished to guard against him, should excite deep concern and holy vigilance. It would seem that his power, though of course limited and restrained, is very great; that his trickery is equal to his power; and that his malignity is not inferior to either. The very idea that we have to combat with such a foe, a foe that had the courage to attack the Son of God—a foe the more dangerous for the cloud of mystery that hangs about him, and conceals his movements from observation—a foe that actually subdued our first parents, notwithstanding their perfect innocence and paradisaic situation—a foe whom success has made bold, and experience sagacious, in ruining souls—a foe that may be near us at any moment, unseen, and therefore unnoticed, and may be preparing some new kind of attack, is indeed sufficient to alarm us, far more than it does, and to put us upon the best means of averting the danger.
With too many professing Christians, there seems be a careless confidence, and an air of unwarranted security, which their situation of extreme peril does not justify, and which is quite opposed to the solemn warnings contained in the word of God.
But more impressive and appalling is the language of Paul, in another place, "Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood—but against principalities and powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Above all taking the shield of faith, with which you shall be able to quench the fiery darts of the wicked one." Ephes. 6:10-12, 16. This gives us a view of the subject of Satanic opposition, which is almost dreadful.