Guest Post by Brian Hedges, author of Watchfulness: Recovering a Lost Spiritual Discipline
Many believers underestimate the evil one’s power to deceive. Evil sometimes feels more terrifying in fiction than in real life. People shudder at the description of malevolent aliens, vampires, and Black Riders but greet biblical warnings about the devil with a yawn. But though the Nazgúl in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings are truly frightening, the mortal enemy of our souls is more terrible by far. “Be sober, be vigilant,” writes Peter, “because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8).
Listen up, Christian. You have an implacable enemy whose single objective is to plant a victory flag in the soil of your vanquished faith. He wants to devour you, consume you, and destroy you.
Writing to the Corinthians, Paul says, “We are not ignorant of his devices” (2 Cor. 2:11). Are you? Do you recognize the danger of his deceptions, the malignity of his temptations, and the subtlety of his insinuations? Don’t underestimate the devil. As Richard Rogers observes, the devil first comes to us as a tempter and then as an accuser. First he seduces us with the fleeting pleasures of sin. When he succeeds, he tallies up our transgressions and roars in our consciences in the hellish attempt to drive us to despair.
Sometimes he even injects evil, blasphemous thoughts into our minds. There is a scene in Pilgrim’s Progress where Christian passed through the Valley of the Shadow of Death and came to the mouth of a burning pit. Bunyan tells us that at just that moment, “one of the wicked ones got behind him, and stepped up softly to him, and, whisperingly, suggested many grievous blasphemies to him, which he verily thought had proceeded from his own mind.” A wise friend once told me that the enemy speaks to us in our own voice and with our own accent.
The point is this: we have a spiritual enemy who is poised to make us fall any way he can.
For still our ancient foe
Doth seek to work us woe
His craft and power are great
And armed with cruel hate
On earth is not his equal.
Watchfulness is necessary because we are at war and the stakes are high. This is surely one reason why Paul includes watchfulness as he exhorts us to prayer, following his exposition of the Christian armor in Ephesians 6: “praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints” (v. 18).
This suggests that watching is one means for putting the armor on. As Rogers says, “To have this armor ready to keep us and conduct us safely throughout our life in our practice of Christianity, this is to be done: we must watch continually and pray with heart (Matt. 26:41). This we must do often.”
Watchfulness: Recovering a Lost Spiritual Discipline by Brian Hedges.
“If you love your Bible, if you love the Puritans, and if you love your own soul, then this little book is a banquet awaiting you to come and indulge your spiritual appetite!
—Brian Borgman, Pastor of Grace Community Church, Minden, Nevada, and Author of Feelings and Faith, Cultivating Godly Emotions in the Christian Life, and Coauthor of Spiritual Warfare: A Biblical and Balanced Perspective
“In a sea of antinomian easy believism, Watchfulness is a five-alarm fire bell calling us all to work out our salvation with fear, trembling, and effort. It’s about time. In twenty years of ministry, I have not read a single article, let alone book, that deals with the urgent issue of watchfulness. This book is long overdue and desperately needed.”
—Todd Friel, Host of Wretched Radio and Author of Reset for Parents: How to Keep Your Kids from Backsliding
“Pick this up and start implementing it today.”
—Jason M. Garwood, Teaching Pastor of Cross & Crown Church, Northern Virginia, and Author of Be Holy: Learning the Path of Sanctification
“If you would enjoy Christ more, safeguard your soul with greater effectiveness, and live the faith-filled life more intentionally, devour these pages. It will do your soul good and sow seeds for a life of devotion to Christ.”
—Jason Helopoulos, Associate Pastor, University Reformed Church, Lansing, Michigan, and Author of A Neglected Grace: Family Worship in the Christian Home
“This book will elevate your pursuit of personal holiness as it brings to the forefront of your mind the eternal benefits of watching over your heart and being alert for your enemy.”
—Steven J. Lawson, President, OnePassion Ministries, Dallas, Texas
“A small gem of a book…with gospel-driven exhortation and warnings to busy Christians. Timely and necessary.”
—Derek W. H. Thomas, Senior Minister, First Presbyterian Church, Columbia, South Carolina; Chancellor’s Professor, Reformed Theological Seminary; and Teaching Fellow, Ligonier Ministries
“Brian Hedges makes the dead speak to us with a fresh voice on a neglected topic for the refreshment of our souls.”
—Ryan M. McGraw, Morton H. Smith Professor of Systematic Theology, Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary.