Often Relapses Into The Same Sin.

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Blueridge Believer

Puritan Board Professor
DEVICE 7. By suggesting to the soul his often relapses into the same sin which formerly he has pursued with particular sorrow, grief, shame, and tears, and prayed, complained, and resolved against.

Says Satan—Your heart is not right with God; surely your estate is not good. You only flatter yourself to think that ever God will eternally own and embrace such a one as you are—who complains against sin, and yet relapses into the same sin; who with tears and groans confesses your sin, and yet always falls into the same sin.

I confess this is a very sad condition for a soul after he has obtained mercy and pity from the Lord, after God has spoken peace and pardon to him, and wiped the tears from his eyes, and set him upon his legs, to return to folly. Ah! how do relapses lay men open to the greatest afflictions and worst temptations! How do they make the wound to bleed afresh! How do they darken and cloud former assurances and evidences for heaven! How do they put a sword into the hand of conscience to cut and slash the soul! They raise such fears, terrors, horrors, and doubts in the soul—that the soul cannot be so frequent in duty as formerly; nor so fervent in duty as formerly; nor so confident in duty as formerly; nor so bold, familiar, and delightful with God in duty as formerly; nor so constant in duty as formerly. They give Satan an advantage; they make the work of repentance more difficult; they make a man's life a burden, and they render death to be very terrible unto the soul.

Remedy (1). The first remedy against this device of Satan is, solemnly to consider, That there are many scriptures which clearly evidence a possibility of the saints falling into the same sins whereof they have formerly repented. 'I will heal their backslidings, I will love them freely: for my anger is turned away from them,' says the Lord by the prophet Hosea (chap. 14:4). So the prophet Jeremiah speaks: 'Go and proclaim these words toward the north, and say, Return, O backsliding Israel, says the Lord, and I will not cause my anger to fall upon you: for I am merciful, says the Lord, and I will not keep my anger forever. Turn, O backsliding Israel, says the Lord; for I am married unto you: and I will take you one from a city and two from a family, and I will bring you to Zion' (Chap. 3:12, 14). So the psalmist: 'They turned back, and dealt unfaithfully with their fathers; they were turned aside like a deceitful bow.' And no wonder, for though their repentance is ever so sincere and sound, yet their graces are but weak, and their mortification of sin is imperfect in this life. Though by grace they are freed from the dominion of sin, and from the damnatory power of every sin, and from the love of all sin, yet grace does not free them from the indwelling of any one sin; and therefore it is possible for a soul to fall again and again into the same sin. If the fire is not wholly put out, who would think it impossible that it should catch and burn again and again?

The sin of backsliding is a soul sin, 'I will heal their backsliding.' You read of no arms for the back though, you do for the bosom. When a soldier bragged too much of a great scar in his forehead, Augustus Caesar asked him if he did not get it as he looked back when he fled.

Remedy (2). The second remedy against this device of Satan is, seriously to consider, That God has nowhere engaged himself by any particular promise, that souls converted and united to Christ shall not fall again and again into the same sin after conversion. I cannot find in the whole book of God where he has promised any such strength or power against this or that particular sin, as that the soul should be forever, in this life, put out of a possibility of falling again and again into the same sins. And where God has not a mouth to speak, I must not have a heart to believe. God will graciously pardon those sins to his people, which he will not in this life totally subdue in his people. I have never seen a promise in Scripture, which says that when our sorrow and grief has been so great, or so much, for this or that sin—that then God will preserve us from ever falling into the same sin. The sight of such a promise would be as life from the dead to many a precious soul, who desires nothing more than to keep close to Christ, and fears nothing more than backsliding from Christ.

In some cases the saints have found God better than his word. He promised the children of Israel only the land of Canaan; but besides that he gave them two other kingdoms which he never promised. And to Zacharias he promised to give him his speech at the birth of the child—but besides that he gave him the gift of prophecy.

Remedy (3). The third remedy against this device of Satan is, seriously to consider, That the most renowned and now crowned saints have, in the days of their being on earth, relapsed into one and the same sin. Lot was twice overcome with wine; John twice worshiped the angel; Abraham did often deceive, and lay his wife open to adultery to save his own life, which some heathens would not have done. 'And it came to pass, when God caused me to wander from my father's house, that I said unto her, This is your kindness which you shall show unto me; at every place where we shall come, say of me, He is my brother' (Gen. 20:13). David in his wrath was resolved, that he would be the death of Nabal, and all his innocent family; and after this he fell into the foul murder of Uriah.

Though Christ told his disciples that his 'kingdom was not of this world,' yet again, and again, and again, they desired to be high, great, and glorious in this world. Their pride and ambitious desires put them—who were but as so many beggars—upon striving for pre-eminence and greatness in the world, when their Lord and Master told them several times of his sufferings in the world, and of his going out of the world. Jehoshaphat, though a godly man, yet joins with Ahab (2 Chron. 18:1-3, 30, 31); and though he was saved by a miracle, yet soon after, he falls into the same sin, and 'joins himself with Ahaziah king of Israel, who did very wickedly' (2 Chron. 20:35-37). Samson is by the Spirit of the Lord numbered among the faithful worthies, yet he fell often into gross immorality. Peter, you know, relapsed often, and so did Jonah. A sheep may often slip into a slough—as well as a swine.

And this happens, that they may see their own inability to stand, or to resist or overcome any temptation or corruption (Jude 14-16), and that they may be taken off from all false confidences, and rest wholly upon God, and only upon God, and always upon God; and for the praise and honor of the power, wisdom, skill, mercy, and goodness of the physician of our souls—who can heal, help, and cure when the disease is most dangerous, when the soul is relapsed, and grows worse and worse, and when others say, 'There is no help for him in his God,' and when his own heart and hopes are dying.

Perhaps the prodigal son, sets out unto us a Christian relapse, for he was a son before, and with his father, and then went away from him, and spent all; and yet he was not quite undone—but returned again. The prodigal saw the compassion of his father the greater, in receiving him after he had run away from him.

Remedy (4). The fourth remedy against this device of Satan is, to consider, That there are relapses into ENORMITIES, and there are relapses into INFIRMITIES. Now it is not usual with God to leave his people frequently to relapse into enormities; for by his Spirit and grace, by his smiles and frowns, by his word and rod—he usually preserves his people from a frequent relapsing into enormities. Yet he does leave his choicest ones frequently to relapse into infirmities (and of his grace he pardons them)—as idle words, passion, and vain thoughts. Though gracious souls strive against these, and complain of these, and weep over these, yet the Lord, to keep them humble, leaves them frequently to relapse into these. These frequent relapses into infirmities shall never be their bane, because they are their burden.

Relapses into enormities are destructive sins. Therefore the Lord is graciously pleased to put under his everlasting arms, and keep his chosen ones from frequent falling into them.

Remedy (5). The fifth remedy against this device of Satan is, to consider, That there are involuntary relapses, and there are voluntary relapses. Involuntary relapses are, when the resolution and full bent of the heart is against sin, when the soul strives with all its might against sin, by sighs and groans, by prayers and tears, and yet out of weakness is forced to fall back into sin, because there is not spiritual strength enough to overcome. Now, though involuntary relapses must humble us, yet they must never discourage us; for God will freely and readily pardon those, in course.

Voluntary relapses are, When the soul longs and loves to 'return to the flesh-pots of Egypt' (Exod. 16:3). When it is a pleasure and a pastime to a man to return to his old courses, such voluntary relapses speak out the man blinded, hardened, and ripened for ruin.

There is a great difference between a sheep which by weakness falls into the mire--and a swine which delights to wallow in the mire; between a woman who is raped, though she fights and cries out--and an alluring adulteress.

Remedy (6). The sixth remedy against this device of Satan is, to consider, That there is no such power, or infinite virtue, in the greatest horror or sorrow the soul can be under for sin, nor in the sweetest or choicest discoveries of God's grace and love to the soul—as forever to fence and secure the soul from relapsing into the same sin. Grace may be prevailed against by the secret, subtle, and strong workings of sin in our hearts. And those discoveries which God makes of his love, beauty and glory to the soul, do not always abide in their freshness and power upon the heart; but by degrees they fade and wear off, and then the soul may return again to folly. We see this in Peter, who, after he had a glorious testimony from Christ's own mouth of his blessedness and happiness, labors to prevent Christ from going up to Jerusalem to suffer, out of slavish fears that he and his fellows could not be secure, if his Master should be brought to suffer (Matt. 16:15-19, 22-24). And again, after this, Christ had him up into the mount, and there showed him his beauty and his glory, to strengthen him against the hour of temptation which was coming upon him; and yet, soon after he had the honor and happiness of seeing the glory of the Lord (which most of his disciples had not), he basely and most shamefully denies the Lord of glory, thinking by that means to provide for his own safety. And yet again, after Christ had broke his heart with a look of love for his most unlovely dealings, and bade those who were first acquainted with his resurrection to 'go and tell Peter that he was risen' (Mark 16:7). I say, after all this, slavish fears prevail upon him, and he basely dissembles, and plays the Jew with the Jews, and the Gentile with the Gentiles, to the seducing of Barnabas (Gal. 2:11-13).

Yet, by way of caution, know, it is very rare that God does leave his beloved ones frequently to relapse into one and the same gross sin; for the law of nature is in arms against gross sins, as well as the law of grace, so that a gracious soul cannot, dares not, will not, frequently return to gross folly. And God has made even his dearest ones dearly smart for their relapses, as may be seen by his dealings with Samson, Jehoshaphat, and Peter. Ah, Lord! what a hard heart has that man, who can see you stripping and whipping your dearest ones for their relapses, and yet making nothing of returning to folly.

THOMAS BROOKS " Precious Remedies Against Satan's Devices" 1652
 

onewayout

Puritan Board Freshman
A Fathers Love

I apprecitate this post. People tend to put God in a box and limit him. I mean I've heard people say, "If you do this, or if you did this, you're not saved."

God deals with us and judges us according to our spiritual maturity. We wouldn't spank a infant, or punish a two year old like a teenager. :2cents:
 
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Blueridge Believer

Puritan Board Professor
I apprecitate this post. People tend to put God in a box and limit him. I mean I've heard people say, "If you do this, or if you did this, you're not saved."

God deals with us and judges us according to our maturity. We wouldn't spank a infant, or punish a two year old like a teenager. :2cents:


God bless you and welcome to the Puritan Board dear brother.
 
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