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Empty Pleasures Never Satisfy

Go and take your fill of earthly pleasures if you will—you will never find your heart satisfied with them. There will always be a voice within, crying, like the leech in Proverbs 30:15, ‘Give! Give!’ There is an empty place there, which nothing but God can fill. You will find, as Solomon did by experience, that earthly pleasures are but a meaningless show—promising contentment but bringing a dissatisfaction of spirit—gold plated caskets, exquisite to look at on the outside, but full of ashes and corruption within.

—J. C. Ryle
Thoughts for Young Men, 34.

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Look to the Cross to Slay Sin

The apostle gloried and rejoiced in the cross of Christ. His heart was set on it. It crucified the world to him, making it a dead and undesirable thing (Gal 6:14). The baits and pleasures of sin are all things in the world, “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.” By these sin entices and entangles our souls. If the heart is filled with the cross of Christ, it casts death and undesirability on them all, leaving no seeming beauty, pleasure, or comeliness in them. Again, Paul says, “It crucifies me to the world and makes my heart, my affections, and my desires dead to all these things. It roots up corrupt lusts and affections, and leaves no desire to go and make provision for the flesh to fulfill its lusts.”

—John Owen
Indwelling Sin in Believers: Abridged and Made Easy to Read, 99–100 ; original: vol. 6, 250–251.

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Delight in God is our Greatest Defense

The joy of the Lord will arm us against the assaults of our spiritual enemies, and put our mouths out of taste for those pleasures with which the tempter baits his hooks.

—Matthew Henry,
Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Complete and Unabridged in One Volume, 635.

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Temptations Put Nothing Into a Man

The seat of sin, the Scripture everywhere assigns it to be the heart. There indwelling sin keeps its especial residence. It hath invaded and possessed the throne of God himself: “Madness is in the heart of men while they live” (Ecc 9:3). This is their madness, or the root of all that madness which appears in their lives. “Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies” (Matt 15:19).

There are many outward temptations and provocations that befall men, which excite and stir them up unto these evils; but they do but as it were open the vessel, and let out what is laid up and stored in it. The root, rise, and spring of all these things is in the heart. Temptations and occasions put nothing into a man, but only draw out what was in him before.

—John Owen
Adapted from The Works of John Owen, 6:169.

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We Must Not Indulge Our Inclinations

We must resist the temptations to sin, by considering the evils they will draw on us

But now, amongst those things which we discover to be sinful, there will be some, unto which, through the disposition of our nature, or long custom, or the endearments of pleasure, we are so much wedded, that it will be like cutting off the right hand, or pulling out the right eye to abandon them.

But must we therefore sit down and wait till all difficulties be over, and every temptation be gone? This were to imitate the fool in the poet, who stood the whole day at the river side, till all the waters should run by.

We must not indulge our inclinations, as we do little children, till they grow weary of the thing they are unwilling to let go; we must not continue our sinful practices, in hopes that the divine grace will one day overpower our spirits, and make us hate them for their own deformity.

—Henry Scougal
The Works of the Rev. H. Scougal, 45–46.

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