Compromise and torment
Dear friends, all this represents a very awful truth, which the New Testament undoubtedly confirms, namely, that God’s last and most terrible judgment is to allow the devil to have power
over the disobedient soul, and to permit temptation to overcome and to torment and punish us because of our willful disobedience to the will of God, and our rejection of the grace that would have saved us.
The saddest thing about the condition of the poor sinner is that while he thinks he is free, and has the power to reform and do as he pleases, he is the helpless slave of Satan, “taken captive by him at his will,” and he never can be free until he repents and renounces the dominion of God’s great enemy, and appeals to the blood of Jesus Christ, and the power of the Holy Ghost to break the fetters of his captivity.
And there may come a time in the life of a wicked man, when, through persistent rejection of light, and right, he shall be given over, as we read in first chapter of Romans, “to a reprobate mind, and to vile affections,” and he shall find within him a power compelling him to evil, and possessing him with the devil just as one can be possessed and constrained by the Holy Ghost.
This is the explanation of the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart.
This is the last stage of impenitence and despair. This never comes to any soul until he has rejected and refused the mercy of God, and deliberately chosen evil instead of good, and Satan instead of God.
God punishes him by letting him have Satan to the full, or as it is expressed so graphically in the first chapter of Proverbs, “They would none of My counsel, they despised all My reproof, therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices.”
But it is possible even for the child of God to be delivered over to the power of temptation through a continuance in willful and persistent disobedience. The very things that we choose become our punishment, and we find ourselves through our own deliberate disobedience, under terrible forms of temptation which we have not the power to resist.
The reason is that we are in a place where God never wanted us to be. We have brought upon ourselves our own tormentors.
The grace of God is equal to all his will for us, and He knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptation, but He has not promised His grace for self-imposed burdens, dangers or situations that are contrary to His divine purpose.
There is nothing sweeter in life than to be conscious of being so encased in the armor of the Holy Ghost, that the Wicked One toucheth us not, and every fiery shot glances off, as the shot and shell are repelled by the armor plate upon the battleship, and we walk through the hosts of hell as safe and unscathed as if we were treading the courts of heaven.
But there is also an experience where we are conscious that Satan has a power over our hearts, that the fiery dart
does pierce through and stain the sensitive soul, that the evil instigation does become a part of our very thought and feeling, and that we are not in perfect victory over the power of evil.
This is the meaning of the Master’s prayer for us, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the Evil One.”
Oh, beloved, this is the meaning of hell. This is the beginning of torment. This is the retribution of sin.