Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices – Gilded Sin

In “Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices” Puritan Thomas Brooks lists several “devices” or strategies Satan uses to tempt us. Previously we covered Satan’s strategy to “present the bait and hide the hook” – that is, to present everything that is alluring and attractive about sin while hiding or denying everything hurtful and damning about sin. Today we’ll look at Satan’s second strategy to tempt us – by painting sin with virtue’s colors:

Satan knows that if he would present sin in its own nature and dress, the soul would rather fly from it than yield to it; and therefore he presents it unto us, not in its own proper colors–but painted and gilded over with the name and show of virtue, that we may the more easily be overcome by it, and take the more pleasure in committing of it.

Gilding refers to the process of covering an object with a thin, outer coating of gold. Satan will attempt to depict sin as “virtue”, that is, as goodness. Sin is essentially deceptive – it shows itself to be something other than it really is. Brooks gives examples:

PRIDE, he presents to the soul under the name and notion of neatness and cleanliness; and COVETOUSNESS (which the apostle condemns for idolatry) to be but good business; and DRUNKENNESS to be good fellowship, and RIOTOUSNESS under the name and notion of liberality, and WANTONNESS as a trick of youth.

Every sin can be excused, rationalized, or depicted as a harmless exercise of something good and virtuous. To be on guard, Brooks offers four remedies:

  1. Consider that sin is never a whit the less filthy, vile, and abominable–by its being colored and painted with virtue’s colors. “A poisonous pill is never a whit less poisonous because it is gilded over with gold.” The “gilding” or “painting” or depicting of sin relates only to its external appearance – its power to kill, destroy, ensnare, and ruin has not been changed.
  2. That the more sin is painted forth under the color of virtue, the more dangerous it is to the souls of men. I have heard men talk of the “good” in abandoning their wives, families, and even their faith under the delusion that it is for the best. Such men are walk in deep darkness.
  3. To look on sin with that eye with which within a short time, we shall see it. “When you shall lie upon a dying bed, and stand before a judgment-seat, sin shall be unmasked … that which formerly appeared most sweet will appear most bitter.” Brooks asks us to contemplate the true nature of sin in all of its vileness and ugliness. Though it may seem pleasing now, there comes a day when it will not appear so. “Look upon sin now as you must look upon it to all eternity, and as God, conscience, and Satan will present it to you another day!”
  4. That even those very sins that Satan paints… cost the best blood, the noblest blood, the life-blood, the heart-blood of the Lord Jesus. Christ came to save sinners, and for that purpose he paid nothing less than His very blood. He endured not only physical pain, but an entire life of condescension, pain, and toil for us and for our good.

In the same vein as the last point, Spuregon describes the hatred of sin all of us should have:

He looks upon [sin] as we should regard a knife rusted with gore, wherewith some villain had killed our mother, our wife, or child. Could we play with it? Could we bear it about our persons or endure it in our sight? No, accursed thing! stained with the heart’s blood of my beloved, I would fain fling thee into the bottomless abyss! Sin is that dagger which stabbed the Saviour’s heart, and henceforth it must be the abomination of every man who has been redeemed by the atoning sacrifice.

Let us flee from playing with the very sins for which our Lord died.

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