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Spurgeon on Joy’s Power to Defeat Temptation

I have been meditating for some time on the power of joy to deliver the Christian from temptation. The idea is simple: we are to be so satisfied with Christ that the best that Satan, the world and the flesh can offer to us has no appeal. Why have temporary pleasure when you have a far greater spiritual and eternal pleasure? Why drive a Yugo when you already have a Porsche? Why eat popcorn when you already have a steak?  If we would cultivate a soul-satisfaction in Christ (described in Psalm 73:25 and elsewhere), temptation’s appeal would be weakened.

Two quotations have communicated this truth to me with particular power:

“The joy of the Lord will arm us against the assaults of our spiritual enemies and put our mouths out of taste for those pleasures with which the tempter baits his hooks.” (Matthew Henry, quoted by John Piper, Desiring God, 12)

“I know of no other way to triumph over sin long-term than to gain a distaste for it because of a superior satisfaction in God.” (John Piper, Desiring God, 12)

Now I’ve come across this bit from Spurgeon, in which he concurs with those worthy thoughts:

“[I]nasmuch as thou layest down silver for me, and tellest me I can have it if I do wrong, lo, Satan, I can cover thy silver with gold, and have ten times as much to spare afterwards. Thou sayest I shall get gain if I sin. Nay, but the treasures of Christ are greater riches than all the treasures of Egypt. Why, Satan, if thou wert to bring me a crown, and say, ‘There!thou shalt have that if thou wilt sin.’ I should say, ‘Poor crown! Why, Satan, I have got a better one than that laid up in heaven, I could not sin for that, that is a bribe too paltry,’ In he brings his bags of gold. and he says, ‘Now, Christian, sin for them.’ The Christian says, ‘Why fiend, that stuff is not worth my looking at. I have an inheritance in a city where the streets are paved with solid gold; and, therefore, what are these poor chinking bits to me? Take them back!’ He brings in loveliness, and he tempts us by it, but we say to him, ‘Why, devil, what art thou at? What is that loveliness to me? Mine eyes have seen the King in his beauty and the land that is very far oft; and by faith I know that I shall go where beauty’s self, even in her perfection, is excelled — where I shall see my Savior, who is “the chief among ten thousand, and the altogether lovely.” That is no temptation to me! Christ has died, and I count all these things but dross, that I may win Christ and be found in him.’ So that you see, even in temptation, the death of Christ has destroyed the devil’s power.” (The Destroyer Destroyed)


8 Responses

  1. Thanks for the quotes Chris. I certainly find this principle to be true in my own life.

  2. Amen, Pearson.

    I think we’ve blown it at times by preaching obedience in such a way that it seems that the world “has it going on,” but that Christians must nevertheless resist temptation out of sheer will power and duty. “Christian obedience is miserable, but it’s right.” Such teaching (whether implicit or explicit) is a travesty.

    Scripture teaches something very different. We’re not missing a thing. Staying away from the world (Psalm 1:1) will be much easier when we realize that true “delight” comes from Scripture (Psalm 1:2). We’re not missing the good stuff—we’re missing a life of chaff and gaining a life of lush fruitfulness and satisfaction (Psalm 1:3-6).

    I know that many don’t like Piper’s “Christian Hedonism” description of joying in God, but whether we quote Piper or not, we need to shout from the housetops that our relationship with God is a delight, not just a duty. Only that understanding really honors Him, and only that understanding weakens temptation by revealing sin’s appeals as the lies they are.

  3. Chris,

    Back from family camp. Just read this. One comment:

    It seems to me that delight is active, not passive. Ps 37.4, Delight thyself also in the Lord… a command addressed to the will. I spoke to our young people at Family Camp this AM about a key to living the Christian life and sanctification, the washing of water by the word. The believer needs to make the Word a matter of devotion, in faith believing that God is working, even if I don’t see anything happening.

    I devotion (active delight) is largely missing from our lives. I think I’ll post more on this topic later on my own blog.

    Don Johnson
    Jer 33.3

  4. […] Owen on Soul-Satisfied Sanctification Three great statements by C. H. Spurgeon, Matthew Henry and John Piper have become a great blessing in my spiritual life. All insist that the best way to remove the teeth of temptation is to find a greater satisfaction in intimate fellowship with God. They can be found here. […]

  5. […] Spurgeon on Joy’s Power to Defeat Temptation […]

  6. […] Joy VS Sin Here is an interesting discussion of how Christian joy will help in the triumph over […]

  7. i want to say the thoughts of Spureon have really inspired me. I have learnt a lot about overcoming temptation.thanks
    mercy from Cameroon

  8. […] And for more on the sanctifying effect of rejoicing in God, check out two previous MTC posts (here and […]

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