By Johann Gerhard (1582-1637), a German Lutheran pastor and professor of theology. He wrote dozens of books, including Sacred Meditations, a collection of 51 meditations published in 1606. This piece was taken from the chapter 29 of that book.
An angel fell even in the presence of God. Adam and Eve fell into sin even in that delightful home in which God placed them. Solomon was the wisest of men (I Kings 3:12), yet he was led away from the Lord through the enticements of the flesh (I Kings 11:3). Judas belonged to the very circle of Christ’s disciples (Luke 22:3), and was under the daily instruction of that greatest of all teachers, and yet he was not safe from the snares of the devil. David was a man after God’s own heart (I Samuel 13:14), and was as a most precious son, but through the awful sins of adultery and murder, he made himself a son of death (II Samuel 12:5).
Where then in this life is there real security against falling into sin? Cling to the promises of God, and you shall be safe from the assaults of the devil. There can be no security in this life, except that afforded by the sure promises of God’s word to those who believe and walk in the way of the Lord. When we finally attain the blessedness of heaven, then we shall enjoy perfect security. But in this life, fear and religion have a close connection, and there ought not be one without the other…
Happy you are, indeed, if you take all care to avoid a careless indifference, that cause of so many evils. God will not forsake you, but take good heed lest you forsake God. God has bestowed his grace upon you, pray that he may also give you perseverance unto the end. God so orders the economy of grace that we may have assurance of our salvation, and yet not in such a way that one may indulge in false self-security. You must fight the good fight of faith bravely, that in time you may triumph gloriously.
Your own flesh within you fights against you, and is a formidable enemy because of it being so much nearer to you than the others. The world around you fights against you, and that is a formidable enemy to you because it is so much more abundant in its allurements. And the devil above you fights against you, and is a more formidable enemy than any other because he is so much more powerful.
In the strength of God you need not fear to engage with all these enemies, and by that strength you shall gain the victory. But such enemies as these you will never conquer by a mere sense of security, but by waging an incessant warfare against them. Life is the time to fight this fight of faith; and when you are apparently unconscious of the conflict, you are in more peril from the assaults of these foes; for when they seem to be observing a truce, then they are really massing their forces for a more powerful attack on your soul. They are vigilant, and are you sleeping? They are preparing to do you harm, and will you not prepare to resist them?
Matthew 26:41 — (Jesus said), “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.”
1 Corinthians 10:12 — If you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!
1 Peter 5:8-11 — Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm, and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.
2 Timothy 4:7 — I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
We are weak and weary, O God, and the temptations of the devil and the world are great and many. We pray that you keep us strong and faithful, so that we do not fall into temptation and sin. Give us the grace to remain steadfast and fight bravely to our end; for without your grace and help we can do nothing. Amen.