Pleasure against Pleasure

The previous post ended on a not so uplifting note. I of course agree with what Owen wrote regarding the mind’s helplessness against the affections. But that is not the last word in our struggle against sin. Here are some positive insights I’ve culled from William Arnot’s Studies in Proverbs:

The best way of moving a young heart is to please it. The surest way of turning a person from one pleasure is to give him a greater pleasure on the opposite side.

And what pleasures are these? The pleasures of God! (Incidentally, this is the title of one of John Piper’s books.)

And, blessed be God, greater are those joys that are for us, than all that are against us! The enticements on the side of holiness and safety are in themselves greater than all that Satan can spread out; and when a distracted mind can see and a ladened heart can feel them as they are, it is forthwith won. ‘The love of Christ constraineth us.’ It is pleasure that can compete with pleasure.

However, Arnot makes it clear that we cannot generate this pleasure in spiritual things by ourselves. “You cannot fight the enticements of sinful pleasure in your own strength.” We need Christ’s help.

His entrance into the heart will turn the tide of the conflict; and He is willing: ‘Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If any man open, I will come in.’ ‘Even so: come Lord Jesus!’

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