Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Bruised Reed Chapter 7

I am not certain that I have shared this story with anyone yet except my dear wife. I am always a little negligent to share stories like this because they could have adverse effects. Nonetheless, I will share. About 8 months ago as I was taking the shower I felt as if the Lord said to me, "Mike, Satan is going to sift you..." Since, I do not watch the 700 Club and go to a Southern Baptist Church I thought nothing of this. It was only a few days later when I began experiencing extreme...shall I call it temptation?....persecution?...doubts?...depression?...whatever we shall call it I began battling even the vilest atheism, which led to distress, which led to questioning my salvation, which led to despair, and I truly was "being sifted". So, I can certainly relate to this chapter. 2 things the Lord used to stir my heart during this trial. 1) Psalm 103, especially verse 14. "For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust." 2) A deeper understanding of the imputed righteousness and justification of Jesus Christ. In some ways this too is the balm that Sibbes proposes to apply to weary souls.

Quick Outline:
  • Temptations Which Hinder Comfort
  • Weakness Should Not Keep Us From Duty

Sibbes hope in this chapter is to give abundant help to those that are brought low by stronger objections and secret thoughts. He will deal with four different temptations which often hinder the believers comfort. They are: 1) Some believe since they have not full assurance that they should have none. 2) Their performances are weak. 3) Haunted by hideous representations of their imaginations. (I believe this is similar to what I experienced a few months ago). 4) Because the heart becomes more troubled by corruption the soul becomes more weary.

While not using these very words Sibbes seems to give the same advice that brought me through this valley. His advices is that first we remember that God remembers us and our frame and that he accepts even the weakest groan from the believer. Also, we should see our battle with sin and its corruption as evidence that we are indeed regenerate. And we can see as a foundation for all of these that our hope rests in the grand mercy of Jesus in imputing to us His righteousness and making it our own.

Sibbes, as Puritans often reasoned, encourages us to continue in our duties even in our weakness. Many that are discouraged simply give up. But Sibbes spurs us in the opposite direction: "we should not avoid good actions because of the infirmities attending them." Much of his argument can be summed up by saying, "Let us not be cruel to ourselves when Christ is thus gracious." Within Christ mercy is the abundant hope for weary souls.


There is no greater hope when our souls are weary than being cast upon the mercy of Jesus Christ. Sibbes does a wonderful job of helping those that are "cruel to [themselves]" to see that Christ accepts but the least glimmer of "good". As Sibbes says, "Christ looks more at the good in them which he means to cherish than the ill in them which he means to abolish". Oh, what comfort these words are.

I doubt that one appreciates this chapter unless you have been brought through the fire. I would say that I have only a glimpse of experience of this very thing. Yet that glimpse has caused me to treasure Christ more and myself much less. While I would never desire for you to go through the pain of "sifting" I certainly pray for you to bear its fruit. So, because the fruit only comes through the rain, I pray that Lord might put as through whatever trials necessary to bring about our treasuring Him most.

Some questions come from this chapter. 1) Has there been a time in your life when this chapter either was, or would have been, very helpful? Have you had the experience of "temptations which hinder comfort"? How did Christ bring you through? 2) Do you find this chapter comforting?

Pearls and Diamonds:

"It promotes humiliation to know the whole breadth and depth of sin."

"Our chief comfort is that our blessed Saviour, as he bade Satan depart from him, after he had given way awhile to his insolence (Matt. 4:10), so he will command him to be gone from us, when it shall be good for us. He must be gone at a word. And Christ can and will likewise, in his own time, rebuke the rebellious and extravagant stirrings of our hearts and bring all the thoughts of the inner man into subjection to himself. "

"...none are so aware of corruption as those whose souls are most alive."

"These stirrings of spirit touch the heart of God and melt him into compassion towards us, when they come from the Spirit of adoption, and from a striving to be better."

"Let us not be cruel to ourselves when Christ is thus gracious."

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