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Satan Considering the Saints

Written by: Spurgeon, C.H.    Posted on: 04/03/2003

Category: Sermons

Source: CCN

                                    Satan Considering the Saints by C. H. SPURGEON,                                  

              "And the Lord said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job."Job 1:8.

          HOW VERY UNCERTAIN are all terrestrial things! How foolish would that believer be who should lay           up his treasure anywhere, except in heaven! Job's prosperity promised as much stability as anything can           do beneath the moon. The man had round about him a large household of, doubtless, devoted and           attached servants. He had accumulated wealth of a kind which does not suddenly depreciate in value.           He had oxen, and asses, and cattle. He had not to go to markets, and fairs, and trade with his goods to           procure food and clothing, for he carried on the processes of agriculture on a very large scale round about his own           homestead, and probably grew within his own territory everything that his establishment required. His children           were numerous enough to promise a long line of descendants. His prosperity wanted nothing for its consolidation.           It had come to its flood-tide: where was the cause which could make it ebb?               Up there, beyond the clouds, where no human eye could see, there was a scene enacted which augured no           good to Job's prosperity. The spirit of evil stood face to face with the infinite Spirit of all good. An extraordinary           conversation took place between these two beings. When called to account for his doings, the evil one boasted that           he had gone to and fro throughout the earth, insinuating that he had met with no hindrance to his will, and found           no one to oppose his freely moving and acting at his own pleasure. He had marched everywhere like a king in his           own dominions, unhindered and unchallenged. When the great God reminded him that there was at least one place           among men where he had no foothold, and where his power was unrecognized, namely, in the heart of Job; that           there was one man who stood like an impregnable castle, garrisoned by integrity, and held with perfect loyalty as           the possession of the King of Heaven; the evil one defied Jehovah to try the faithfulness of Job, told him that the           patriarch's integrity was due to his prosperity, that he served God and eschewed evil from sinister motives,           because he found his conduct profitable to himself. The God of heaven took up the challenge of the evil one, and           gave him permission to take away all the mercies which he affirmed to be the props of Job's integrity, and to pull           down all the outworks and buttresses and see whether the tower would not stand in its own inherent strength           without them. In consequence of this, all Job's wealth went in one black day, and not even a child was left to           whisper comfort. A second interview between the Lord and his fallen angel took place. Job was again the subject           of conversation; and the Great One defied by Satan, permitted him even to touch him in his bone and in his flesh,           till the prince became worse than a pauper, and he who was rich and happy was poor and wretched, filled with           disease from head to foot, and fain to scrape himself with a miserable potsherd, to gain a poor relief from his pain.               Let us see in this the mutability of all terrestrial things. He hath founded it upon the floods," is David's           description of this world; and, if it be founded on the floods, can you wonder that it changes oft? Put not your           trust in anything beneath the stars: remember that "Change" is written on the fore-front of nature. Say not           therefore, "My mountain standeth firm: it shall never be moved;" the glance of Jehovah's eye can shake thy           mountain into dust, the touch of his foot can make it like Sinai, to melt like wax, and to be altogether on a smoke.           "Set your affection on things above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God," and let your heart and your           treasure be where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, nor thieves break through and steal." The words of Bernard           may here instruct us: "That is the true and chief joy which is not conceived from the creature, but received from           the Creator, which (being once possessed thereof) none can take from thee: compared with which all other           pleasure is torment, all joy is grief, sweet things are bitter, all glory is baseness, and all delectable things are           despicable."               This is not, however, our subject this morning. Accept thus much as merely an introduction to our main           discourse. The Lord said to Satan, "Hast thou considered my servant Job?" Let us deliberate, first, in what sense           the evil spirit may be said to consider the people of God; secondly, let us notice what it is that he considers           about them; and then, thirdly, let us comfort ourselves by the reflection that one who is far above Satan           considers us in a higher sense.               I. First, then, IN WHAT SENSE MAY SATAN BE SAID TO CONSIDER THE PEOPLE OF GOD?               Certainly not in the usual Biblical meaning of the term "consider." "O Lord consider my trouble." "Consider           my meditation." "Blessed is he that considereth the poor." Such consideration implies good-will and a careful           inspection of the object of benevolence with regard to a wise distribution of favour. In that sense Satan never           considers any. If he has any benevolence, it must be towards himself; but all his considerations of other creatures           are of the most malevolent kind. No meteoric flash of good flits across the black midnight of his soul. Nor does he           consider us as we are told to consider the works of God, that is, in order to derive instruction as to God's wisdom           and love and kindness. He does not honour God by what he sees in his works, or in his people. It is not with him,           "Go to the ant; consider her ways and be wise;" but he goes to the Christian and considers his ways and becomes           more foolishly God's enemy than he was before. The consideration which Satan pays to God's saints is upon this           wise. He regards them with wonder, when he considers the difference between them and himself. A traitor, when           he knows the thorough villainy and the blackness of his own heart, cannot help being astounded, when he is           forced to believe another man to be faithful. The first resort of a treacherous heart is to believe that all men would           be just as treacherous, and are really so at bottom. The traitor thinks that all men are traitors like himself, or would           be, if it paid them better than fidelity. When Satan looks at the Christian, and finds him faithful to God and to his           truth, he considers him as we should consider a phenomenonPerhaps despising him for his folly, but yet           marveling at him, and wondering how he can act thus. "I," he seems to say, "a prince, a peer of God's parliament,           would not submit my will to Jehovah. I thought it better to reign in hell than serve in heaven: I kept not my first           estate, but fell from my throne. How is it that these stand? What grace is it which keeps these? I was a vessel of           gold, and yet I was broken; these are earthen vessels, but I cannot break them! I could not stand in my           glorywhat can be the matchless grace which upholds them in their poverty, in their obscurity, in their           persecution, still faithful to the God who doth not bless and exalt them as he did me!" It may be that he also           wonders at their happiness. He feels within himself a seething sea of misery. There is an unfathomable gulf of           anguish within his soul, and when he looks at believers, he sees them quiet in their souls, full of peace and           happiness, and often without any outward means by which they should be comforted, yet rejoicing and full of           glory. He goes up and down through the world and possesses great power, and there be many myrmidons to serve           him, yet he hath not the happiness of spirit possessed by yonder humble cottager, obscure, unknown, having no           servants to wait upon her, but stretched upon the bed of weakness. He admires and hates the peace which reigns           in the believer's soul.               His consideration may go farther than this. Do you not think that he considers them to detect, if possible, any           flaw and fault in them, by way of solace to himself? "They are not pure," saith he"these blood-bought           onesthese elect from before the foundations of the world,they still sin! These adopted children of God, for           whom the glorious Son bowed his head and gave up the ghost!even they offend!" How must he chuckle, with           such delight as he is capable of, over the secret sins of God's people, and if he can see anything in them           inconsistent with their profession, anything which appears to be deceitful, and therein like himself, he rejoices.           Each sin born in the believer's heart, cries to him, "My father! my Father!" and he feels something like the joy of           fatherhood as he sees his foul offspring. He looks at the "old man" in the Christian, and admires the tenacity with           which it maintains its hold, the force and vehemence with which it struggles for the mastery, the craft and cunning           with which every now and then, at set intervals, at convenient opportunities, it putteth forth all its force. He           considers our sinful flesh, and makes it one of the books in which he diligently reads. One of the fairest prospects,           I doubt not, which the devil's eye ever rests upon, is the inconsistency and the impurity which he can discover in           the true child of God. In this respect he had very little to consider in God's true servant, Job.               Nor is this all, but rather just the starting point of his consideration. We doubt not that he views the Lord's           people, and especially the more eminent and excellent among them, as the great barriers to the progress of his           kingdom; and just as the engineer, endeavouring to make a railway, keeps his eye very much fixed upon the hills           and rivers, and especially upon the great mountain through which it will take years laboriously to bore a tunnel, so           Satan, in looking upon his various plans to carry on his dominion in the world, considers most such men as Job.           Satan must have thought much of Martin Luther. "I could ride the world over," says he, "if it were not for that           monk. He stands in my way. That strong-headed man hates and mauls my firstborn son, the pope. If I could get           rid of him I would not mind though fifty thousand smaller saints stood in my way." He is sure to consider God's           servant, if there be "none like him," if he stand out distinct and separate from his fellows. Those of us who are           called to the work of the ministry must expect from our position to be the special objects of his consideration.           When the glass is at the eye of that dreadful warrior, he is sure to look out for those who by their regimentals are           discovered to be the officers, and he bids his sharpshooters be very careful to aim at these, "For," saith he, "if the           standard-bearer fall, then shall the victory be more readily gained to our side, and our opponents shall be readily           put to rout." If you are more generous than other saints, if you live nearer to God than others, as the birds peck           most at the ripest fruit, so may you expect Satan to be most busy against you. Who cares to contend for a           province covered with stones and barren rocks, and ice-bound by frozen seas? But in all times there is sure to be           contention after the fat valleys where the wheat-sheaves are plenteous, and where the husbandman's toil is well           requited, and thus, for you who honour God most, Satan will struggle very sternly. He wants to pluck God's           jewels from his crown, if he can, and take the Redeemer's precious stones even from the breastplate itself. He           considers, then, God's people; viewing them as hindrances to his reign, he contrives methods by which he may           remove them out of his way, or turn them to his own account. Darkness would cover the earth if he could blow           out the lights; there would be no fruit to shake like Lebanon, if he could destroy that handful of corn upon the top           of the mountains; hence his perpetual consideration is to make the faithful fail from among men.               It needs not much wisdom to discern that the great object of Satan in considering God's people is to do them           injury. I scarcely think he hopes to destroy the really chosen and blood-bought heirs of life. My notion is that he is           too good a divine for that. He has been foiled too often when he has attacked God's people, that he can hardly           think he shall be able to destroy the elect, for you remember the soothsayers who are very nearly related to him,           spoke to Haman on this wise; "If Mordecai be of the seed of the Jews, before whom thou hast begun to fall, thou           shalt not prevail against him, but shalt surely fall before him." He knows right well that there is a seed royal in the           land against whom he fights in vain; and it strikes me if he could be absolutely certain that any one soul was           chosen of God, he would scarcely waste his time in attempting to destroy it, although he might seek to worry and           to dishonour it. It is however most likely that Satan no more knows who God's elect are than we do, for he can           only judge as we do by outward actions, though he can form a more accurate judgment than we can through           longer experience, and being able to see persons in private where we cannot intrude; yet into God's book of secret           decrees his black eye can never peer. By their fruits he knows them, and we know them in the same manner.           Since, however, we are often mistaken in our judgment, he too may be so; and it seems to me that he therefore           makes it his policy to endeavour to destroy them allnot knowing in which case he may succeed. He goeth about           seeking whom he may devour, and, as he knows not whom he may be permitted to swallow up, he attacks all the           people of God with vehemence. Some one may say, "How can one devil do this?" He does not do it by himself           alone. I do not know that many of us have ever been tempted directly by Satan: we may not be notable enough           among men to be worth his trouble; but he has a whole host of inferior spirits under his supremacy and control,           and as the centurion said of himself, so he might have said of Satan"he saith to this spirit, 'Do this,' and he           doeth it, and to his servant, 'Go,' and he goeth." Thus all the servants of God will more or less come under the           direct or indirect assaults of the great enemy of souls, and that with a view of destroying them; for he would, if it           were possible, deceive the very elect. Where he cannot destroy, there is no doubt that Satan's object is to worry.           He does not like to see God's people happy. I believe the devil greatly delights in some ministers, whose tendency           in their preaching is to multiply and foster doubts and fears, and grief, and despondency, as the evidences of God's           people. "Ah," saith the devil, "preach on; you are doing my work well, for I like to see God's people mournful. If I           can make them hang their harps on the willows, and go about with miserable faces, I reckon I have done my work           very completely." My dear friends, let us watch against those specious temptations which pretend to make us           humble, but which really aim at making us unbelieving. Our God takes no delight in our suspicions and mistrusts.           See how he proves his love in the gift of his dear Son Jesus. Banish then all your ill surmisings, and rejoice in           unmoved confidence. God delights to be worshipped with Joy. Oh come, let us sing unto the Lord: let us make a           joyful noise to the rock of our salvation. Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful           noise unto him with psalms." "Rejoice in the Lord, ye righteous, and shout for joy all ye that are upright in heart."           "Rejoice in the Lord always, and again, I say, rejoice." Satan does not like this. Martin Luther used to say, "Let us           sing psalms and spite the devil," and I have no doubt Martin Luther was pretty nearly right; for that lover of           discord hates harmonious, joyous praise. Beloved brother, the arch-enemy wants to make you wretched here, if           he cannot have you hereafter; and in this, no doubt, he is aiming a blow at the honour of God. He is well aware           that mournful Christians often dishonour the faithfulness of God by mistrusting it, and he thinks if he can worry us           until we no more believe in the constancy and goodness of the Lord, he shall have robbed God of his praise. "He           that offereth praise, glorifieth me," says God; and so Satan lays the axe at the root of our praise, that God may           cease to be glorified.               Moreover, if Satan cannot destroy a Christian, how often has he spoilt his usefulness? Many a believer has           fallen, not to break his neckthat is impossible,but he has broken some important bone, and he has gone           limping to his grave! We can recall with grief some men once eminent in the ranks of the Church, who did run           well, but on a sudden, through stress of temptation, they fell into sin, and their names were never mentioned in the           Church again, except with bated breath. Everybody thought and hoped they were saved so as by fire, but certainly           their former usefulness never could return. It is very easy to go back in the heavenly pilgrimage, but it is very hard           to retrieve your steps. You may soon turn aside and put out your candle, but you cannot light it quite so speedily.           Friend, beloved in the Lord, watch against the attacks of Satan and stand fast, because you, as a pillar in the house           or God are very dear to us, and we cannot spare you. As a father, or as a matron in our midst, we do you honour,           and ohwe would not be made to mourn and lamentwe do not wish to be grieved by hearing the shouts of our           adversaries while they cry "Aha! Aha! so would we have it," for alas! there have been many things done in our           Zion which we would not have told in Gath, nor published in the streets of Askelon, lest the daughters of the           uncircumcised should rejoice, and the sons of the Philistines should triumph. Oh may God grant us grace, as a           Church, to stand against the wiles of Satan and his attacks, that having done his worst he may gain no advantage           over us, and after having considered, and considered again, and counted well our towers and bulwarks, he may be           compelled to retire because his battering rams cannot jar so much as a stone from our ramparts, and his slings           cannot slay one single soldier on the walls.               Before I leave this point, I should like to say, that perhaps it may be suggested, "How is it that God permits           this constant and malevolent consideration of his people by the evil one?" One answer, doubtless, is, that God           knows what is for his own glory, and that he giveth no account of his matters; that having permitted free agency,           and having allowed, for some mysterious reason, the existence of evil, it does not seem agreeable with his having           done so to destroy Satan; but he gives him power that it may be a fair hand-to-hand fight between sin and           holiness, between grace and craftiness. Besides, be it remembered, that incidentally the temptations of Satan are of           service to the people of God; Fenelon says they are the file which rubs off much of the rust of self-confidence,           and I may add, they are the horrible sound in the sentinel's ear, which is sure to keep him awake. An experimental           divine remarks, that there is no temptation in the world which is so bad as not being tempted at all; for to be           tempted will tend to keep us awake: whereas, being without temptation, flesh and blood are weakand though the           spirit may be willing, yet we may be found falling into slumber. Children do not run away from their father's side           when big dogs bark at them. The howlings of the devil may tend to drive us nearer to Christ, may teach us our           own weakness, may keep us upon our own watch-tower, and be made the means of preservation from other ills.           Let us "be sober, be vigilant, because our adversary the devil, like a roaring lion, goeth about seeking whom he           may devour;" and let us who are in a prominent position be permitted affectionately to press upon you one earnest           request, namely, "Brethren, pray for us." that, exposed as we are peculiarly to the consideration of Satan, we may           be guarded by divine power. Let us be made rich by your faithful prayers that we may be kept even to the end.               II. Secondly, WHAT IS IT THAT SATAN CONSIDERS WITH A VIEW TO THE INJURY OF GOD'S           PEOPLE?               It cannot be said of him as of God, that he knoweth us altogether; but since he has been now nearly six           thousand years dealing with poor fallen humanity, he must have acquired a very vast experience in that time, and           having been all over the earth, and having tempted the highest and the lowest, he must know exceeding well what           the springs of human action are, and how to play upon them. Satan watches and considers first of all our peculiar           infirmities. He looks us up and down, just as I have seen a horse-dealer do with a horse; and soon finds out           wherein we are faulty. I, a common observer, might think the horse an exceedingly good one, as I see it running           up and down the road, but the dealer sees what I cannot see, and he knows how to handle the creature just in           such quarters and at such points that he soon discovers any hidden mischief. Satan knows how to look at us and           reckon us up from heel to head, so that he will say of this man, "His infirmity is lust," or of that other, "He hath a           quick tempter," or of this other, "He is proud," or of that other, "He is slothful." The eye of malice is very quick to           perceive a weakness, and the hand of enmity soon takes advantage of it. When the arch-spy finds a weak place in           the wall of our castle, he takes care to plant his battering-ram, and begin his siege. You may conceal, even from           your dearest friend, your infirmity, but you will not conceal it from your worst enemy. He has lynx eyes, and           detects in a moment the joint in your harness. He goes about with a match, and though you may think you have           covered all the gunpowder of your heart, yet he knows how to find a crack to put his match through, and much           mischief will he do, unless eternal mercy shall prevent.               He takes care also to consider our frames and states of mind. If the devil would attack us when our mind is in           certain moods, we should be more than a match for him: he knows this, and shuns the encounter. Some men are           more ready for temptation when they are distressed and desponding; the fiend will then assail them. Others will be           more liable to take fire when they are jubilant and full of joy; then will he strike his spark into the tinder. Certain           persons, when they are much vexed and tossed to and fro, can be made to say almost anything; and others, when           their souls are like perfectly placid waters, are just then in a condition to be navigated by the devil's vessel. As the           worker in metals knows that one metal is to be worked at such a heat, and another at a different temperature; as           those who have to deal with chemicals know that at a certain heat one fluid will boil, while another reaches the           boiling-point much earlier, so Satan knows exactly the temperature at which to work us to his purpose. Small pots           boil directly they are put on the fire, and so little men of quick temper are soon in a passion; larger vessels require           more time and coal before they will boil, but when they do boil, it is a boil indeed, not soon forgotten or abated.           The enemy, like a fisherman, watches his fish, adapts his bait to his prey; and knows in what seasons and times           the fish are most likely to bite. This hunter of so souls comes upon us unawares, and often we are overtaken in a           fault and or caught in a trap through an unwatchful frame of mind. That rate collector of choice sayings, Thomas           Spencer, has the following which is to the much to the point"The chameleon, when he lies on the grass to catch           flies and grasshoppers, taketh upon him the colour of the grass, as the polypus doth the colour of the rock under           which he lurketh, that the fish may boldly come near him without any suspicion of danger. In

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