Ever read a book written by a Puritan? It’s not an easy read, for sure. But if you can get past the difference in language and writing style, it’s well worth it. The Puritan paperbacks published by Banner of Truth are Christ-centered, practical-theological, and deeply biblical. If you’re interested but not sure where to start, let me recommend Thomas Brook’s, Precious Remedies against Satan’s Devices. Here’s a very brief overview.
Precious Remedies was written to identify the ploys of the devil and counter them with gospel truth. Brooks warns: “Satan hath several devices to deceive, entangle, and undo the souls of men” (26). In other words, Satan employs numerous strategies with a singular objective — to destroy men and women. The devil employs snares tailored to his target. He has “snares for the wise and snares for the simple; snares for hypocrites, and snares for the upright; snares for generous souls, and snares for timorous souls; snares for the rich, and snares for the poor; snares for the aged; and snares for youth” (28). Therefore, Christians must put on the whole armor of God (Eph. 6:11). But it’s not just believers Satan aims to harm. He wants to lead every soul away from God into eternal destruction along the pathway of sin.
The first major section of the book describes twelve schemes the devil uses to draw people into sin. After stating each device, Brooks explains specific biblical remedies. The various ploys of the devil prove he deserves the name “deceiver.” He lures people to sin by “presenting the bait and hiding the hook,” by “presenting God to the soul as One made up all of mercy,” by “persuading the soul that repentance is easy,” by focusing peoples’ attention on the supposed benefits of living in sin and the sure suffering of living for God, and by entreating people to compare themselves to others regarded as worse sinners in order to justify themselves.
The next section identifies the strategies of Satan for keeping believers from trusting and obeying the Lord. Satan dresses up the world in glamorous garb and struts it before the believer; he presents the “crosses and losses” of Christian discipleship; he presents the challenges of living the Christian life; he highlights the humiliation of believers; he tempts the saints to trust in their religious performance as grounds for pardon and acceptance with God.
Many will find the following section particularly insightful and helpful. It outlines the various ways Satan keeps Christians in a “sad, doubting, questioning, and uncomfortable condition.” In other words, Brooks helps the reader understand how Satan works to diminish the assurance and joy of believers. Some of the strategies of Satan include: tempting the believer to fixate on their sin instead of the Savior of sinners; leading believers to false and despairing conclusions from hard providences; suggesting that a Christian’s graces are counterfeit; reminding the believer of his “relapses into sin formerly repented of and prayed against.”
The next two sections deal with Satan’s devices to destroy all sorts of people — the rich and poor, powerful and weak, wise and foolish. Christians will want to give due attention to Satan’s device against the saints in the section. One of the primary ways Satan attacks the church is by “dividing them and causing them to bite and devour one another.”
In an appendix, Brooks describes five more devices of Satan, seven characters of false teachers, six propositions concerning Satan and his devices, and a conclusion with ten special helps for fighting against the wiles of the devil. The five devices mentioned in the appendix are common spiritual struggles which every pastor encounters in ministry. How should pastors counsel people who says things like: “I’m too great a sinner to ever go to Christ,” or “I need to reach a certain level of remorse and repentance before I’m fit for Christ,” or “I don’t believe Christ desires to save someone like me,” or “I’m uncertain I’m elect.” Brooks equips readers with gospel truths to overcome these ploys of the evil one.
This brief overview focused on Satan’s devices. Brooks would encourage us to go on now to meditate on Christ and the precious remedies he supplies so that by the grace of the Lord Jesus, God will crush Satan under our feet (Rom. 16:20).