“Christ is a strong Saviour” by Richard Sibbes

“Christ will not leave us till He has made us like Himself, all glorious within and without, and presented us blameless before His Father (Jude 24). What a comfort this is in our conflicts with our unruly hearts, that it shall not always be thus!

Let us strive a little while, and we shall be happy forever. Let us think when we are troubled with our sins that Christ has this in charge from His Father, that He shall not ‘quench the smoking flax’ until He has subdued all.

This puts a shield into our hands to beat back ‘all the fiery darts of the wicked’ (Eph. 6:16). Satan will object, ‘You are a great sinner.’ We may answer, ‘Christ is a strong Saviour.’ But Satan will object, ‘You have no faith, no love.’  We reply: ‘Yes, a spark of faith and love.’

Satan says: ‘But Christ will not regard that.’ We answer: ‘Yes, He will not quench the smoking flax.’ Satan says: ‘But this is so little and weak that it will vanish and come to naught.’ We reply: “Nay, but Christ will cherish it, until He has brought judgment to victory.'”

–Richard Sibbes, The Bruised Reed (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1630/1998), 123.

“Sweeter than temptation” by Augustine of Hippo (A.D. 354-430)

“O Lord, let me not tire of thanking You for Your mercy in rescuing me from all my wicked ways, so that You may be sweeter to me than all the joys which used to tempt me, so that I may love You most intensely and clasp Your hand with all the power of my devotion, so that You may save me from all temptation until the end of my days.”

–Aurelius Augustine, Confessions, (1.15.24). Trans. R.S. Pine-Coffin (New York: Penguin, 1961), 35.

“Store up gospel provisions” by John Owen

“Be sure to lay provision in store against the approaching of any temptation. This also belongs to our watchfulness over our hearts. You will say, ‘What provision is intended, and where is it to be laid up?’

Our hearts, as our Savior speaks, are our treasury. There we lay up whatsoever we have, good or bad; and thence do we draw it for our use (Matt. 12:35). It is the heart, then, wherein provision is to be laid up against temptation.

When an enemy draws near to a fort or castle to besiege and take it, oftentimes, if he finds it well manned and furnished with provision for a siege, and so able to hold out, he withdraws and assaults it not.

If Satan, the prince of this world, comes and finds our hearts fortified against his batteries, and provided to hold out, he not only departs, but, as James says, he flees: ‘He will flee from us’ (4:7).

For the provision to be laid up is that which is provided in the gospel for us. Gospel provisions will do this work; that is, gospel provisions keep the heart full of a sense of the love of God in Christ. This is the greatest preservative against the power of temptation in the world.

Joseph had this; and therefore, on the first appearance of temptation, he cries out, “How can I do this great evil, and sin against God?”—and there is an end of the temptation as to him; it lays no hold on him, but departs.

He was furnished with such a ready sense of the love of God as temptation could not stand before (Gen. 39:9). ‘The love of Christ constrains us,’ says the apostle, ‘to live to Him’ (2 Cor. 5:14); and so, consequently, to withstand temptation.

A man may, nay, he ought to lay in provisions of the law also—fear of death, hell, punishment, with the terror of the Lord in them. But these are far more easily conquered than the other; nay, they will never stand alone against a vigorous assault. They are conquered in convinced persons every day; hearts stored with them will struggle for a while, but quickly give over.

But store the heart with a sense of the love of God in Christ, and His love in the shedding of it; get a relish of the privileges we have thereby– our adoption, our justification, our acceptance with God.

Fill the heart with thoughts of the beauty of His death– and you will, in an ordinary course of walking with God, have great peace and security as to the disturbance of temptations.”

–John Owen, “Of Temptation: The Nature and Power of It” in Overcoming Sin and Temptation, Eds. Kelly Kapic and Justin Taylor (Wheaton: Crossway, 2006), 204.

“Nothing less than omnipotent compassion” by John Murray

“To view the heavenly sympathy of our Lord from the aspect of our existential need, how indispensable to comfort and to perseverance in faith to know that in all the temptations of this life we have a Sympathiser, and Helper, and Comforter in the person of Him from whom we must conceal nothing, who feels with us in every weakness and temptation, and knows exactly what our situation physical, psychological, moral, and spiritual is.

And this He knows because He Himself was tempted, like as we are, without sin. That He who has this feeling with us in temptation appears in the presence of God for us and is our advocate with the Father invests His sympathy and help with an efficacy that is nothing less than omnipotent compassion.”

–John Murray, The Heavenly Priestly Activity of Christ (London: Westminster Chapel, 1958), 8. This brief address is available online here.

“Knowing God and knowing about God” by John Owen

“The difference between believers and unbelievers as to knowledge is not so much in the matter of their knowledge as in the manner of knowing. Unbelievers, some of them, may know more and be able to say more of God, His perfections, and His will, than many believers; but they know nothing as they ought, nothing in a right manner, nothing spiritually and savingly, nothing with a holy, heavenly light.

The excellency of a believer is, not that he has a large apprehension of things, but that what he does apprehend, which perhaps may be very little, he sees it in the light of the Spirit of God, in a saving, soul-transforming light; and this is that which gives us communion with God, and not prying thoughts or curious-raised notions.”

–John Owen, Overcoming Sin and Temptation, Eds. Kelly Kapic and Justin Taylor. (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2006), 117.