And as he was yet a coming, the devil threw him down, and tare him. And Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, and healed the child, and delivered him again to his father.
C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): When this child came to Christ to be healed, the devil threw him down and tare him. Now this is an illustration of what Satan does with most, if not all sinners, when they come to Jesus to seek light and life through Him; he throws them down and tears them.
ALEXANDER COMRIE (1706-1774): So soon as a soul begins to give ear unto Jesus, there is much astir—the world allures, Satan threatens, the evil heart attempts to oppose the words of Jesus: many difficulties are suggested—that will help, this will harm.
RALPH ERSKINE (1685-1752): Whenever conviction begins and the soul comes to be troubled for sin and under fear of hell and wrath, Satan indeed fishes in the muddy water, and mixes his temptations with the Spirit’s convictions; and if he can bring all convictions to nothing, either by force or fraud, he will do it, that the convinced soul may never come to Christ for a cure; Satan will stand at his right hand to resist him.
C. H. SPURGEON: The Holy Ghost tells you that you are a lost sinner, and undone; “Ah!” says the devil, “you are, and you cannot be saved;” and thus again under the very garb of the Spirit’s operations he deceives the soul―“Oh,” says Satan, “it is true Christ died, but not for you; you are a peculiar character.” I remember the devil once made me believe that I was one alone, without a companion. I thought there was no one like myself. I saw that others had sinned as I had done, and had gone as far as I had, but I fancied what there was something peculiar about my sin. Thus the devil tried to set me apart as if I did not belong to the rest of mankind, I thought that if I had been anybody else I might have been saved.
THOMAS WATSON (1620-1686): The devil would make us wade so far in the waters of repentance that we should get beyond our depth and be drowned in the gulf of despair.
C. H. SPURGEON: Then, if the devil cannot overcome you there, he tries another method; he takes all the threatening passages out of God’s Word, and says they all apply to you. He reads you this passage: There is a sin unto death; I do not say that ye should pray for it, I John 5:16. “There,” says the devil, “the apostle did not say he could even pray for the man who had committed certain sins.” Then he reads, that sin against the Holy Ghost shall never be forgiven, Luke 12:10. “There,” he says, “is your character: you have committed sin against the Holy Ghost, and you will never be pardoned.” Then he brings another passage: Let him alone; Ephraim is joined unto idols, Hosea 4:17. “There,” says Satan, “you have had no liberty in prayer lately; God has let you alone; you are given unto idols; you are entirely destroyed.”
A. W. PINK (1886-1952): Satan will tell you that it is no use to resist indwelling sin any longer, that it is useless to pray any more. He seeks to produce a despair, and tells many harassed souls they might as well commit suicide and put an end to their misery.
C. H. SPURGEON: But do not believe him my dear friends. No man has committed the sin against the Holy Ghost as long as he has grace to repent; it is certain that no man can have committed that sin if he flies to Christ and believes on him.
ALEXANDER COMRIE: It is Satan’s own work to keep us away from the Saviour who is offered to us. This he does either by magnifying our sins so much that it seems that they are committed against the Holy Spirit and thus are unpardonable, or, if this is not possible, by coming as an angel of light to torment our soul by urging the necessity of repentance and contrition. And since our legalistic heart and unbelief have a delight in this and agree with it, we are starved and kept back from the gospel.
BROWNLOW NORTH (1810-1875): It is a great error to try to conquer our corruptions before we try to conquer our unbelief. The devil says, “Conquer your sins, and faith will follow.” The Scripture says, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and sin shall not have dominion over you.”
A. W. PINK: How can one distinguish between the harassing doubts which the Devil injects, and the convictions of sin and piercings of conscience which the Holy Spirit produces? By the effects produced.
RALPH ERSKINE: Hence see the difference between the conviction of the Spirit and the temptation of Satan; and the difference between the distress of soul that arises from a law-work before conversion, and that which arises from the assault of the enemy of our salvation.
The convictions of the Spirit are before a man come to Christ, and tend as a severe school master to lead him to Christ, Galatians 3:24. But the temptations of the devil are especially when a man is coming to Christ, in order to keep him from coming. If the Spirit of God by a law-work seem, as it were, to cast down the man, and tear him to pieces, the design is to oblige him to go to Christ for help and healing, and to provoke him to come to the Saviour and fly to the city of refuge. But the design of the devil’s temptations, when he throws down and tears the soul is, when he is coming, or as he is coming to Christ in order to detain him from coming, or discourage him in coming.
The convictions of the Spirit are humbling, tending to make the soul despair of help in himself, or in God out of Christ. The temptations of the enemy are terrifying, tending to make the soul despair of help in Christ, or in God through Him…Let me exhort all that hear me, to come to our Lord Jesus Christ, whatever opposition from hell stands in your way; and though the devil should throw you down and tear you as you are coming, yet Christ will lift you up and heal you.
JAMES DURHAM (1622-1658): Sinners need not fear to anger Christ, by coming to Him; but when they come not, He is angry. It is said He was wroth at this sin, Matthew 22:7; and it is on this ground that we are bidden, Psalm 2:12, Kiss the Son, lest he be angry―that is, to exercise faith in Him; for if we do it not, He will be angry, and we will perish.
C. H. SPURGEON: You may be always sure that that which comes from the devil will make you look at yourselves and not at Christ. The Holy Spirit’s work is turn our eyes from ourselves to Jesus Christ.―Up, poor soul! If Satan is trying to tear thee, tell him it is written, “He is able to save to save to the uttermost all who come unto God by him;” that “whosoever cometh he will in no wise cast out;” and it may be that thus God will deliver thee from that desperate conflict into which, as a coming sinner, thou hast been cast.