Biblical Counseling, Daniel 4:29–33, David Clarkson, Delight, Fear of man, Gratitude, Hosea 2:5–9, Matthew 5:10-12, Precious Remedies for Satan's Devices, Puritan, Romans 1:21–23, Self-Examination, thankfulness, Thomas Brooks, zeal
10. Delight: Delight is the heart of one in rapturous worship – it is a transcendent joy. And thus, the object which brings on delight is that which is our God. For some it may be comfort, or pleasure, or control, or entertainment, or sex, or drugs, or music, or power, or adulation of others, or success, or food.
When you sit and think, What would give me the greatest delight? That which comes to your mind is your God.
This is not a speculative venture: look carefully, run through member and think of moments of delight: does God ever come into your heart as the object of delight? What delight tempts you first and most? You do delight in your God.
On this point, the counsel of Thomas Brooks is most astute. If you delight in anything other than God, consider:
Look on sin with that eye [with] which within a few hours we shall see it. Ah, souls! when you shall lie upon a dying bed, and stand before a judgment-seat, sin shall be unmasked, and its dress and robes shall then be taken off, and then it shall appear more vile, filthy, and terrible than hell itself; then, that which formerly appeared most sweet will appear most bitter, and that which appeared most beautiful will appear most ugly, and that which appeared most delightful will then appear most dreadful to the soul.1 Ah, the shame, the pain, the gall, the bitterness, the horror, the hell that the sight of sin, when its dress is taken off, will raise in poor souls! Sin will surely prove evil and bitter to the soul when its robes are taken off. A man may have the stone who feels no fit of it. Conscience will work at last, though for the present one may feel no fit of accusation. Laban shewed himself at parting. Sin will be bitterness in the latter end, when it shall appear to the soul in its own filthy nature. The devil deals with men as the panther doth with beasts; he hides his deformed head till his sweet scent hath drawn them into his danger. Till we have sinned, Satan is a parasite; when we have sinned, he is a tyrant. O souls! the day is at hand when the devil will pull off the paint and garnish that he hath put upon sin, and present that monster, sin, in such a monstrous shape to your souls, that will cause your thoughts to be troubled, your countenance to be changed, the joints of your loins to be loosed, and your knees to be dashed one against another, and your hearts to be so terrified, that you will be ready, with Ahithophel and Judas, to strangle and hang your bodies on earth, and your souls in hell, if the Lord hath not more mercy on you than he had on them. Oh! therefore, 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!
Thomas Brooks, The Complete Works of Thomas Brooks, Volume 1, ed. Alexander Balloch Grosart (Edinburgh; London; Dublin: James Nichol; James Nisbet and Co.; G. Herbert, 1866), 17.
That in which you delight is your God. Pray that you God be no idol and thus be the tyrant to accuse you at the Judgment.
11. Zeal: Where do you place your effort? Are you lukewarm toward God? Are you weak in meditation and prayer but zealous at “self-improvement”? Are you careless in love, forgiveness, patience, and yet zealous for your own reputation? Zeal is a mark of worship. The one who knows & loves God, that one is zealous for God. You will be zealous in the cause of something.
Do not ask this question abstractly, but consider it factually. Look at your life – take the last year. Where and when have you expended zeal? That object which pulled forth your zeal is your God.
12. Gratitude, thankfulness: For what, to what, to whom are you most painfully thankful? Where does your gratitude aim – for thankfulness will always find out one’s true God.
Consider this passage in Hosea: the children of Israel were thankful to Baal for their plenty – and not to the Lord. Thus, the Lord charges them with idolatry on the basis of their gratitude:
5 For their mother has played the whore; she who conceived them has acted shamefully. For she said, ‘I will go after my lovers, who give me my bread and my water, my wool and my flax, my oil and my drink.’ 6 Therefore I will hedge up her way with thorns, and I will build a wall against her, so that she cannot find her paths. 7 She shall pursue her lovers but not overtake them, and she shall seek them but shall not find them. Then she shall say, ‘I will go and return to my first husband, for it was better for me then than now.’ 8 And she did not know that it was I who gave her the grain, the wine, and the oil, and who lavished on her silver and gold, which they used for Baal. 9 Therefore I will take back my grain in its time, and my wine in its season, and I will take away my wool and my flax, which were to cover her nakedness. Hosea 2:5–9 (ESV)
God strips Nebuchadnezzar of his sanity when he thanked himself:
29 At the end of twelve months he was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon, 30 and the king answered and said, “Is not this great Babylon, which I have built by my mighty power as a royal residence and for the glory of my majesty?” 31 While the words were still in the king’s mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, “O King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken: The kingdom has departed from you, 32 and you shall be driven from among men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. And you shall be made to eat grass like an ox, and seven periods of time shall pass over you, until you know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will.” 33 Immediately the word was fulfilled against Nebuchadnezzar. He was driven from among men and ate grass like an ox, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven till his hair grew as long as eagles’ feathers, and his nails were like birds’ claws.
Daniel 4:29–33 (ESV)
In Romans 1 Paul says that those who were not thankful to God are turned over idolatry:
21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. Romans 1:21–23 (ESV)
Who or what do you truly believe has given you good? To whom are you thankful? There is your God.
13. Where do you spend your efforts? Take a measure of your time. Take out a calendar and mark off your days and hours. What receives your industry? For whom do you work?
Let us think more deeply and peer into the heart: When you do the work, whom do you seek to please? You may quickly say God, but is that so?
When you work diligently and no one thanks you – or even worse, you must suffer some pain for your efforts, have you been cheated? Are you angry? Your reward from God is safe and cannot be lost merely because a man or woman treats you poorly. Indeed, it is often the opposite for the believer (Matt. 5:10-12).
If you are dark and angry, then you have not worked for God but for human approval? You have seen your god.
(Adapted from David Clarkson’s sermon, “Soul Idolatry Excludes Men Out of Heaven”).
Part One can be found here:
Part Two can be found here:
Part Three can be found here: