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III.       The Devil Appeals to our Sense

Thirdly, he sets before his eyes al the kingdoms of the earth. There is nothing so soon enticed & led away as the eye: it is the broker between the heart & all wicked lusts that be in the world. And therefore, it was great folly in Hezekiah, to shew his robes and treasure, Isaiah 39. 2. as he was told by the prophet: it stirred vp such coals of desire in them that saw them, as could not be quenched, till they had fetched away all that he had, and all that his ancestors had laid up even till that day[1].

It is the wisdom that is used nowadays, when men would have one thing for another, to show the thing they would so exchange: as the buyer shows his money, and the seller his wares in the best manner that he can, each to entice the other (by the eye) to the desire of the heart[2].

It is the Devil’s ancient sleight, he would not go about to persuade the matter in words, till he might withal present the thing to the eye[3].

So, he dealt with Eve, Gen. 3. 6. First he shewed her how pleasant the fruit was, and the woman saw it.[4] So, the cause of the deluge was, Gen. 6. 2. that the sons of God saw the beauty of the daughters of men.[5] Ahab’s seeing of Naboth’s vineyard, 1. Kin. 21. 2. for that it lay near his house, was the cause of all the mischief that followed.[6] This same foolish vanity of apparel, (whereof I have given so often warning out of this place,) comes from hence. I saw a fine Babilonish garment, and desiring it, I tooke it, saith Achan, Joshua 7. 21[7]. So the seeing of the bribe, blinds the eyes of the judge, Deut. 16. 19[8]. So still the sight of the eye, allures the heart to desire.

The Heathen man therefore wished, that virtue and honesty might as well be seen with bodily eyes: for then he thinketh, that Admirabiles amores excitarent sui[9]. So, if we could as well see that which God hath for us, as that the Devil here offers us: we would not regard the Devil’s largesse. Moses and the other Patriarchs saw him which is invisible, which had provided a better thing for them: therefore he refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, Heb. 11. 27. and to enjoy the pleasure of sin.[10]

But you are not so to take it, as though it were a thing simply ill to behold such things, or to look on a cupboard of plate, or to stand on a pinnacle, it is dangerous, but no sin; especially, it is unfit for an unstayed & an ungoverned eye. Therefore Lot & his wife were forbidden to look back at the destruction of Sodom, Gen. 19. 17[11]. To Abraham it was left at large, without any restraint: for that he was a man of better ruled affections.

For as there must be one without, to take view and to entice: so, must there be one within, to hearken to it & to condescended. Be sure of that within, that it be upright: and then you may the better look with that which is without. But ever be wary, for the tinder of thy nature will soon take fire[12].

Job said chap. 31. ver. 1. he made a covenant with his eyes: Why then should he think on a maid, and that he had not been deceived with a woman, vers. 9. and that his hart had not walked after his eye? ver. 7.[13] Paul knew how to use want, and how to use abundance or plenty, and how poverty: both to be full, and to be hungry: he had stayed affections, Phil. 4. 12.

Notes

We human beings are not moved by thoughts but by desire. Imagine Spock, the man of perfect logic and no emotion. How would such a man ever actually act? I could see one thing might be “better” than another, but why move?

Or consider the matter differently: what decisions have you made without any emotion, any desire, any affection? How acts without caring about the outcome? Who puts forth effort without desiring to obtain some-thing?

This is how the Devil proceeds with us. He does not merely tell us that some sin may be had. He shows it. We hear it. We see it. Consider this discussion of temptation in Proverbs 7

Proverbs 7:11–18 (ESV)

            11          She is loud and wayward;

her feet do not stay at home;

            12          now in the street, now in the market,

and at every corner she lies in wait.

            13          She seizes him and kisses him,  [touch, taste]

and with bold face she says to him, [sound]

            14          “I had to offer sacrifices,

and today I have paid my vows;

            15          so now I have come out to meet you,

to seek you eagerly, and I have found you. [desire]

            16          I have spread my couch with coverings,

colored linens from Egyptian linen; [sight]

            17          I have perfumed my bed with myrrh,

aloes, and cinnamon. [smell]

            18          Come, let us take our fill of love till morning;

let us delight ourselves with love. [she then presents the temptation]

We must give attention to the temptation:

Proverbs 23:31 (ESV)

            31          Do not look at wine when it is red,

when it sparkles in the cup

and goes down smoothly.

The temptation requires not merely the offer, but it also requires the potential desire to respond. He pictures this as a match and tinder. We can avoid temptation by avoiding the match. But we must also protect our heart from being so flammable:

Proverbs 4 gives us that advice. Consider this as it applies to avoiding the occasion of temptation and the keeping of our heart; both must be in place for us to be safe (because we will not be perfectly avoid all occasions of temptation):

Proverbs 4:20–27 (ESV)

            20          My son, be attentive to my words;

incline your ear to my sayings.

            21          Let them not escape from your sight;

keep them within your heart.

            22          For they are life to those who find them,

and healing to all their flesh.

            23          Keep your heart with all vigilance,

for from it flow the springs of life.

            24          Put away from you crooked speech,

and put devious talk far from you.

            25          Let your eyes look directly forward,

and your gaze be straight before you.

            26          Ponder the path of your feet;

then all your ways will be sure.

            27          Do not swerve to the right or to the left;

turn your foot away from evil.


[1] The King Hezekiah received a visitation from the envoys from Babylon. He showed them all the wealth which had been accumulated in Jerusalem. They saw that wealth and soon returned to take for Bablyon:

Isaiah 39:1–8 (ESV)

At that time Merodach-baladan the son of Baladan, king of Babylon, sent envoys with letters and a present to Hezekiah, for he heard that he had been sick and had recovered. And Hezekiah welcomed them gladly. And he showed them his treasure house, the silver, the gold, the spices, the precious oil, his whole armory, all that was found in his storehouses. There was nothing in his house or in all his realm that Hezekiah did not show them. Then Isaiah the prophet came to King Hezekiah, and said to him, “What did these men say? And from where did they come to you?” Hezekiah said, “They have come to me from a far country, from Babylon.” He said, “What have they seen in your house?” Hezekiah answered, “They have seen all that is in my house. There is nothing in my storehouses that I did not show them.”

Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, “Hear the word of the Lord of hosts: Behold, the days are coming, when all that is in your house, and that which your fathers have stored up till this day, shall be carried to Babylon. Nothing shall be left, says the Lord. And some of your own sons, who will come from you, whom you will father, shall be taken away, and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.” Then Hezekiah said to Isaiah, “The word of the Lord that you have spoken is good.” For he thought, “There will be peace and security in my days.”

[2] This is the way men complete their business. The seller shows what he has to sell; that excites the buyer. The buyer shows his money; that excites the seller.

[3] This is the way the Devil works. He does not just tell someone about the sin: he shows it. When we see it with our eyes, the temptation arouses our desire.

[4] Note how the Serpent plays upon Eve’s desires not just with words but with sense. He uses words to get her to consider the issue; just take a look:

Genesis 3:1–7 (ESV)

Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made.

He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’ ” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.

[5] This is a debated passage: who are the “sons of God”:

Genesis 6:1–2 (ESV)

 When man began to multiply on the face of the land and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive. And they took as their wives any they chose.

This is followed by the Flood.

[6] King Ahab saw the vineyard of his neighbor Naboth. It filled him with desire. This led to his wife having Naboth killed on trumped-up charges so Ahab could steal the land.

[7] Joshua 7:20–22 (ESV)

20 And Achan answered Joshua, “Truly I have sinned against the Lord God of Israel, and this is what I did: 21 when I saw among the spoil a beautiful cloak from Shinar, and 200 shekels of silver, and a bar of gold weighing 50 shekels, then I coveted them and took them. And see, they are hidden in the earth inside my tent, with the silver underneath.”

22 So Joshua sent messengers, and they ran to the tent; and behold, it was hidden in his tent with the silver underneath.

Achan would be used as a frequent example of the progression of covetousness to sinful action. For example, “Satan is ever casting in the angle of a tentation, to see whether we will bite; he knows how to suit his tentations; he tempted Achan with a wedge of gold: he tempted David with beauty; we cannot lock the door of our heart so fast by prayer, but a tentation will enter.” Thomas Watson, The Christian Soldier, or Heaven Taken by Storm, ed. Armstrong, Second American Edition. (New York: Robert Moore, 1816), 201.

[8] Deuteronomy 16:19 (ESV)

19 You shall not pervert justice. You shall not show partiality, and you shall not accept a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and subverts the cause of the righteous.

[9] Latin. A paraphrase would, “That would arouse their strong desire.”

[10] Hebrews 11:23–28 (ESV)

By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw that the child was beautiful, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict. 24 By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, 25 choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. 26 He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward. 27 By faith he left Egypt, not being afraid of the anger of the king, for he endured as seeing him who is invisible. 28 By faith he kept the Passover and sprinkled the blood, so that the Destroyer of the firstborn might not touch them.

[11] God pronounced judgment upon Sodom. However, God graciously provided for the escape of Lot (Abraham’s nephew) and Lot’s family. The angels who led Lot from the city warned them carefully to flee and to not look at the city. Lot’s wife looked back and was turned to salt. J.C. Ryle preached a tremendous sermon on this passage, “A Woman to be Remembered.”

[12] The image here is pile of dry brush and a match. There must be a match. There must be the tinder. When the two come into contact, there is fire: “the heart of man being as tinder or powder, easily catching at every spark that sets the flesh on fire.”Thomas Manton, The Complete Works of Thomas Manton, vol. 18 (London: James Nisbet & Co., 1874), 390. The image of the heart as tinder was a commonplace among those following the time of Andrewes.

[13] This is a passage in which Job protests his innocence:

Job 31:1–10 (ESV)

 “I have made a covenant with my eyes;

how then could I gaze at a virgin?

                                  What would be my portion from God above

and my heritage from the Almighty on high?

                                  Is not calamity for the unrighteous,

and disaster for the workers of iniquity?

                                  Does not he see my ways

and number all my steps?

                                  “If I have walked with falsehood

and my foot has hastened to deceit;

                                  (Let me be weighed in a just balance,

and let God know my integrity!)

                                  if my step has turned aside from the way

and my heart has gone after my eyes,

and if any spot has stuck to my hands,

                                  then let me sow, and another eat,

and let what grows for me be rooted out.

                                  “If my heart has been enticed toward a woman,

and I have lain in wait at my neighbor’s door,

                  10               then let my wife grind for another,

and let others bow down on her.