Chapter 30 – The Hindering of Faith

“Then cometh the devil and taketh away the word from their heart, that they may not believe and be saved.” Luke 8: 12.

By this word the Lord teaches us that whenever the devil is bent on keeping back anyone from salvation, he has merely to see to it that he keeps him back also from faith: he cannot then be prepared for salvation. And, on the other hand, in order to keep anyone back from faith, he has simply to take away the word from the heart: he does not then believe. And how dreadful is the thought that there are so many who, although they say that they desire to believe, yet work into the hand of the devil, so far as the word is concerned. To the devil it is a matter of small interest in what particular way this takes place, so long as he can take away the word out of the heart. In how many ways is this done.

In one case, by all manner of sin and unrighteousness. The love of sin cannot dwell together with the word. The heart cannot at the same time move towards God and away from God, cannot equally desire the word and sin. One or other of these must be cast out. Alas! how many thousand times does a sinner who said that he was seeking Jesus, and was desirous of believing, let slip the word which he has laid up in his heart in the morning, because he was not willing to say farewell to his sin, his anger, or lying, or deception, or envy, or impurity.

In another, the word is stifled by worldly cares and inclinations. It may be either the heavy sorrow and disquietude of one who has a difficult lot in the world, or it may be the temptation and preoccupation with the world that often springs from prosperity. How constantly it happens that the word is stifled, and thus taken away by love to the world.

Again, there are others from whom the devil takes away the word, through the soul’s being occupied with itself and its sins. Instead of the heart being kept bent on the word of promise, the eye is fixed on its own inmost parts: the soul is so much taken up with its own feeling, its own wretchedness and weakness, with the effort to be converted in its own strength, that the word is loosely held, and so easily carried away.

And when one remembers how superficially the word is read, what little pains is taken to understand the word, to take into the heart and keep there every day that which should be fitted to strengthen faith, one feels how lightly and easily the word is taken away: it costs the devil little trouble.

Reader, if you are seeking Jesus, if you would come to faith, be admonished by this earnest word: “The devil comes and takes away the word, that they may not believe.” Whatever temptation there may be, either from the world without or in your own heart, take heed that you always keep and hold fast the word. Let not the devil take it away from you. Let the precepts and promises of the word be your meditation day and night. “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly.” (Col. 3: 16). “Thy word have I laid up in mine heart . . . It is my meditation all the day.” (Ps. 119: 11, 97). This language of David must be yours; then, when you have found life, you will later on be able also to say with him: “This I have had, because I kept Thy precepts.” (Ps 119: 56). O soul, even the devil knows this: where the word dwells in the heart, there faith comes. Do you also learn this, and be assured that the humble, silent holding fast the living word of God will certainly be blessed to awaken faith in you also. God Himself has said that is the word, “which is able to save your souls.” (Jas. 1: 21). And as the word is received and kept in this hope, He is faithful to bestow by the Spirit the blessing of the word.

Before that word, the evil one retreats, as before the “It is written” out of Jesus’ mouth: with and by that word, the Lord God and His Spirit come to the soul.