Satan Takes Sleeping Saints By Surprise

Matthew 26:41; Job 7:1
       Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation.
       Is there not an appointed time for man upon earth?

THOMAS MANTON (1620-1677): Our life is a continual warfare―“an appointed time.” The same [Hebrew] word signifieth also a warfare. Man’s life is a perpetual toil, and a condition of manifold temptations and hazards, such as a soldier is exposed to; therefore we must perpetually watch.

R. C. CHAPMAN (1803-1902): If we bear not this in mind, trials will often take us by surprise.

WILLIAM GURNALL (1617-1679): Watchfulness is more needful for the Christian soldier than any other, because other soldiers fight with men that need sleep as well as themselves, but the Christian’s grand enemy, Satan, is ever awake and walking his rounds, seeking whom he may surprise. And if Satan be always awake, it is dangerous for the Christian at any time to be spiritually asleep, that is, secure and careless. The Christian is seldom worsted by this enemy, but there is either treachery or negligence in the business. Either the unregenerate part betrays him, or grace is not wakeful to make a timely discovery of him, so as to prepare for the encounter.

JOHN OWEN (1616-1683): Unless we keep a strict watch, we shall be betrayed into the hands of our spiritual enemies.

WILLIAM GURNALL: The saint’s sleeping time is Satan’s tempting time. Every fly dares venture to creep on a sleeping lion. No temptation so weak, but is strong enough to foil a Christian that is napping in security. Samson asleep, and Delilah cuts his locks. Saul asleep, and his spear is taken away from his very side, and he never the wiser. Noah asleep, and his graceless son has a fit time to discover his father’s nakedness. Eutychus asleep, nods, and falls from the third loft, and is taken up for dead. Thus the Christian asleep in security may soon be surprised, so as to lose much of his spiritual strength—“the joy of the Lord,” which is his “strength” be robbed of his spear, his armour—his graces, I mean, at least in the present use of them, and his nakedness discovered by graceless men, to the shame of his profession. As, when bloody Joab could take notice of David’s vainglory in numbering the people, was not David’s grace asleep?

R. C. CHAPMAN: David was in a dead state of soul when he rose from his bed to walk upon the housetop, 2 Samuel 11:2.

WILLIAM GURNALL: Yea, the Christian may fall from a high loft of profession, so low into such scandalous practices, that others may question whether there be any life of grace indeed in him. And therefore it behoves the Christian to stand wakefully. Sleep steals insensibly on the soul, as it doth on the body. The wise virgins fell asleep as well as the foolish, though not so soundly. Take heed thou dost not indulge thyself in thy lazy distemper, but stir up thyself to action, as we bid one that is drowsy stand up or walk. Yield to it by idleness and sloth, and it will grow upon thee.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): Idle Christians are not tempted of the devil so much as they tempt the devil to tempt them.

JOHN NEWTON (1725-1807): Our enemy watches us close; he challenges and desires to have us, that he may sift us as wheat…Satan is a watchful enemy; he studies our situation and disposition, that he may spread snares for us to the greatest advantage, and is not only to be dreaded when he fights directly against our faith and peace as a roaring lion, but is often as near and as dangerous when we are ready to think him at distance. He sometimes lays his schemes with little noise, and prevails before he is perceived.

G. CAMPBELL MORGAN (1863-1945): Every fortress is as strong as its least guarded gate, and no stronger.

D. L. MOODY (1837-1899): Many of the Bible characters fell in just the things in which they were thought to be strongest. Moses failed in his humility, Abraham in his faith, Elijah in his courage—for one woman scared him away to that juniper-tree.

A. W. PINK (1886-1952): Abraham is outstanding for his faith, being called “the father of all them that believe,” Romans 4:11; yet his faith broke down in Egypt when he lied to Pharaoh about his wife. We are told that, “Moses was very meek, above all the men who were upon the face of the earth,” Numbers 12:3, yet he was debarred from entering Canaan because he lost his temper and spoke unadvisedly with his lips. John was the Apostle of love, yet in a fit of intolerance, he and his brother James wanted to call down fire from Heaven to destroy the Samaritans, for which the Saviour rebuked them, Luke 9:54,55.

D. L. MOODY: And Peter, whose strong point was boldness, was so frightened by a maid as to deny his Lord.

A. W. PINK: Concerning Hezekiah we read that “God left him, to try him, that he might know all that was in his heart,” II Chronicles 32:31. None of us knows how weak he is till God withdraws His upholding grace―as He did with Peter―and we are left to ourselves. True, the Lord has plainly told us that “without me ye can do nothing.” We think we believe that word, and in a way we do; yet there is a vast difference between not calling into question a verse in Scripture, an assenting to its verity, and an inward acquaintance with the same in our own personal history. It is one thing to believe that I am without strength or wisdom, it as another to know it through actual experience. Nor is this, as a rule, obtained through a single episode, any more than a nail is generally driven in securely by one blow of the hammer. No, we have to learn, and re-learn, so stupid are we. The Truth of God has to be burned into us in the fiery furnace of affliction. Yet this ought not to be so, and would not be so, if we paid more heed to these Old Testament warnings furnished in the biographies of the saints of yore.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): We each should be admonished by our own infirmity to proceed cautiously, and with fear…How diligently we ought to be on our guard, lest Satan should surprise us.

WILLIAM MORLEY PUNSHON (1824-1881): It behooves us never to slumber, but to be always ready for the attacks of our spiritual enemy.

WILLIAM GURNALL: “Watch and pray,” saith Christ to His disciples; He knew they could not do that work sleeping.

WILLIAM BATES (1625-1699): To watch without prayer is to presume upon our own strength: to pray without watching is to presume upon the grace of God.

WILLIAM JAY (1769-1853): And while we watch, let us also constantly pray, “Hold thou me up, and I shall be safe,” Psalm 119:117.

C. H. SPURGEON: Christian, dost thou think that Satan will let thee alone? No, he will be always at thee, for he “goeth about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour,” I Peter 5:8. Expect trouble, therefore, Christian—but despond not on account of it, for God is with thee to help thee and to strengthen thee.


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