I am loving reading through the short little work by JC Ryle titled “Thoughts for Young Men.” Click the link and purchase it yourself.
In this section he describes the very real threat of our enemy, the devil. He is addressing young men specifically, but it is true for any of us.
Here is what he says:
Young men, beware of being taken by his snares. He will try to throw dust in your eyes, and prevent you seeing anything in its true colors. He would eagerly make you think that evil is good, and good is evil. He will paint, cover with gold, and dress up sin, in order to make you fall in love with it. He will deform, and misrepresent, and fabricate true Christianity, in order to make you take a dislike to it. He will exalt the pleasures of wickedness–but he will hide from you the sting. He will lift up before your eyes the cross and its painfulness- but he will keep out of sight the eternal crown. He will promise you everything, as he did to Christ, if you will only serve him. He will even help you to wear a form of Christianity, if you will only neglect the power. He will tell you at the beginning of your lives, it is too soon to serve God–he will tell you at the end, it is too late. Oh, do not be deceived!
You don’t know the danger you are in from this enemy; and it is this very ignorance which makes me afraid. You are like blind men, walking among holes and pitfalls; you do not see the perils which are around you on every side.
Your enemy is mighty. He is called “The Prince of this world” (John 14:30). He opposed our Lord Jesus Christ all through His ministry. He tempted Adam and Eve to eat the forbidden fruit, and so brought sin and death into the world. He even tempted David, the man after God’s own heart, and caused his latter days to be full of sorrow. He even tempted Peter, the chosen Apostle, and made him deny his Lord. Surely his hostility towards man and God is to be despised.
Your enemy is restless. He never sleeps. He is always going around like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. He is always going back and forth in the earth, and walking up and down on it. You may be careless about your souls: but he is not. He wants your soul to make you miserable, like himself, and will have your soul if he can. Surely his hatred towards men and God is to be despised.
And your enemy is cunning. For thousands of years he has been reading one book, and that book is the heart of man. He ought to know it well, and he does know it–all its weakness, all its deceitfulness, all its folly. And he has a storehouse full of temptations, such as are most likely to do the heart of man the most harm. Never will you go to the place where he will not find you. Go into the city–he will be there. Go into the wilderness–he will be there also. Sit among drunkards–and he will be there to help you. Listen to preaching–and he will be there to distract you. Surely such ill-will is to be despised.
Young men, this enemy is working hard for your destruction, however little you may think it. You are the prize for which he is specially contending for. He foresees you must either be the blessings or the curses of your day, and he is trying hard to effect a place in your hearts early in your life, in order that you may help advance his kingdom each day. Well does he understand that to spoil the bud is the surest way to mar the flower.
Be aware! The enemy is moving about like a roaring lion seeking who he may devour.