One of C. S. Lewis’s most popular works, The Screwtape Letters, presents us with many of the schemes that Satan uses against Christians, through the lens of a senior demon advising his nephew on how to best destroy a believer.
As a helpful counterpart to that book, I found much treasure in Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices by Puritan writer Thomas Brooks. His work is more straightforward and expositional, presenting many of the schemes Satan uses to induce Christians to disobedience, apathy, and other ills. There is great hope in this book because, as the title explains, Brooks also provides remedies we can use against these snares.
Most of the book addresses specific devices and their remedies, but at the end Brooks also provides a general list of ten helps that we can use in any situation. Occasionally reading over these remedies strengthens my soul for the fight of faith. Here is Brooks’s advice to us.1
- Walk by rule. “He that walks by rule, walks most safely; he that walks by rule, walks most honourably; he that walks by rule, walks most sweetly. When men throw off the Word, then God throws off them, and then Satan takes them by the hand, and leads them into snares at his pleasure.”
- Take heed of vexing and grieving of the Holy Spirit of God. “It is the Spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ that is best able to discover Satan’s snares against us; it is only he that can point out all his plots, and discover all his methods, and enable men to escape those pits that he hath digged for their precious souls. Ah! if you set that sweet and blessed Spirit a-mourning, who alone can secure you from Satan’s depths, by whom will you be secured?”
- Labour for more heavenly wisdom. “There is oftentimes a great deal of knowledge, where there is but a little wisdom to improve that knowledge. . . . Ah, souls! you had need of a great deal of heavenly wisdom, to see where are how Satan lays his baits and snares; and wisdom to find out proper remedies against his devices, and wisdom to apply those remedies seasonably, inwardly, and effectually to your own hearts, that so you may avoid the snares which the evil one hath laid for your precious souls.”
- Make present resistance against Satan’s first motions. “He that will play with Satan’s bait, will quickly be taken with Satan’s hook.”
- Labour to be filled with the Spirit. “If you are not filled with the Spirit, Satan will be too hard and too crafty for you, and will easily and frequently take you in his snares, and make a prey of you in spite of your souls. Therefore labour more to have your hearts filled with the Spirit than to have your heads filled with notions, your shops with wares, your chests with silver, or your bags with gold; so shall you escape the snares of this fowler, and triumph over all his plots.”
- Keep humble. “A humble heart will rather lie in the dust than rise by wickedness, and sooner part with all than the peace of a good conscience. . . . He that hath a gracious measure of humility, is neither affected with Satan’s proffers nor terrified with his threatenings.”
- Keep a strong, close, and constant watch. “Satan watches all opportunities to break our peace, to wound our consciences, to lessen our comforts, to impair our graces, to slur our evidences, and to damp our assurances. Oh! what need then have we to be always upon our watch-tower, lest we be surprised by this subtle serpent. Watchfulness includes a waking, a rousing up of the soul. It is a continual, careful observing of our hearts and ways, in all the turnings of our lives, that we still keep close to God and his Word.”
- Keep up your communion with God. “A soul high in communion with God may be tempted, but will not easily be conquered. Such a soul will fight it out to the death. Communion with God furnisheth the soul with the greatest and the choicest arguments to withstand Satan’s temptations.”
- Engage not against Satan in your own strength, but be every day drawing new virtue and strength from the Lord Jesus. “Ah, souls! when the snare is spread, look up to Jesus Christ, who is lifted up in the gospel, as the brazen serpent was in the wilderness, and say to him, Dear Lord! here is a new snare laid to catch my soul, and grace formerly received, without fresh supplies from thy blessed bosom, will not deliver me from this snare. Oh! give me new strength, new power, new influences, new measures of grace, so that I may escape the snares.”
- Be much in prayer. “Ah, souls! take words to yourselves, and tell God that Satan hath spread his snares in all places and in all companies; tell God that he digs deep, and that he hath plot upon plot, and device upon device, and all to undo you; tell God that you have neither skill nor power to escape his snares; tell God that it is a work too high and too hard for any created creature to work your deliverance, unless he puts under his own everlasting arms; tell God how his honor is engaged to stand by you, and to bring you off, that you be not ruined by his plots; tell God how the wicked would triumph, if you should fall into Satan’s snares; tell God of the love of Christ, of the blood of Christ, and of the intercession of Christ for you, that a way may be found for your escape; tell God that if he will make it his honour to save you from falling into Satan’s snares, you will make it your glory to speak of his goodness and to live out his kindness.”