Greg appeared to be moving along smoothly as a Christian. After 37 years in the classroom he was still enjoying teaching. But within a relatively short time suicidal thoughts compelled him to ask to be admitted to a psychiatric ward. The following things helped him restore his health and his faith.
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7. Preachers from earlier days
The discovery of preachers like William Bridge, Charles Spurgeon, Richard Sibbes, John Bunyan, George Whitefield and Martin Luther was uplifting for me. If I explained my experiences to these men, they would not panic nor would they think my experiences were very strange for a Christian nor would they be miserable comforters like Job’s friends (Job 16:2).
These preachers knew about the reality of the devil’s injection of blasphemous thoughts and his urgings for you to “curse God and die”. They knew of the devil’s use of Bible verses to threaten us and his strategic withdrawing from us till an opportune time. My absolute favourite is William Bridge and his book “A Lifting Up of the Downcast”. A great place to start is to listen to four chapters of this book on YouTube.
From these preachers I have selected some quotes which focus on several devices of the devil.
Device 1: Injection of blasphemous and slanderous thoughts
“Satan, as he slanders Christ to us, so he slanders us to ourselves.” 4
“There is [no device] … in which he [the devil] is more successful, or by which he grieves the children of God worse than … troubling you with blasphemous, profane, unbelieving thoughts; and sometimes to such a degree, that they are as tormenting as the rack.” 1
“He [the devil] drives his unclean beasts [blasphemous thoughts] into your field [your mind] and then calls them [these thoughts] yours.” 2
“Satan … presents such horrid, inhuman suggestions to [us], that he may scare [us] from the good ways of God … Now Satan, being a spirit, he is able to present these blasphemies to your spirits …” 3
“But marvel not [at these blasphemous thoughts], as though some strange thing happened to you; for this has been the common lot of all God’s children.” 2
Device 2: Urging you to ‘Curse God and die’
“You that have felt [the devil’s] fiery darts, can subscribe to the truth of this, … how often he [the devil] has bid you, “curse God and die” 1I almost literally fell off my chair as this thought had plagued me. Many Christians I mentioned this to, were in general very surprised, even shocked. But Gorge Whitefield (acclaimed by many as the greatest Evangelist of all time) had a different idea when he says. “But marvel not, as though some strange thing happened to you; for this has been the common lot of all God’s children.”
Device 3: Threaten you with Bible verses
“If the devil cannot overcome you there, he tries another method; he takes all the threatening passages out of God’s Word, and says they all apply to you.” 2
Device 4: The devil withdraws until an opportune time
“The devil has a … device, which is … dangerous … by not tempting us at all, or rather, by withdrawing himself for a while, in order to come upon us at an hour when we think not of it.” 1
8. Improving health, physical and emotional
Avoid caffeine, have a good sleep pattern, watch your weight, avoid excessive sugar, exercise regularly. Address issues and don’t hide from them, deal with emotions. Relax and enjoy what you are doing.
1 Sermon by George Whitefield, Satan’s Devices
2 Sermon by Charles Spurgeon, The Comer’s Conflict with Satan
3 William Bridge, A Lifting Up for the Downcast, The Banner of Truth, p. 161
4 Richard Sibbes, The Bruised Reed, The banner of Truth Trust, p. 64