Desert Hills Bible Church | The Worst Things Work for Good - Thomas Watson (Part 2 of 9)

The Worst Things Work for Good – Thomas Watson (Part 2 of 9)

Have you ever taken the time to observe the gears of a watch working together? While they seem to move contrary to each other, the truth is that they are actually all carrying on the motions of the watch with harmonious precision. In a similar way, God uses both the BEST and the WORST things for the good of the godly.

In chapter two, Watson lists four evils that work for good to them that love God.

Before looking at these four, he makes sure to clarify an objection. He states, “Do not mistake me, I do not say that of their own nature the worst things are good, for they are a fruit of the curse.” He then adds, “God has so tempered them, that they all work in a harmonious manner for the good of the universe.” After clarifying what he is not saying, he then looks at these four sad evils that amazingly work for good. We will look at the first two in this post and the final two in the next.

  1. The sad evil of affliction works for good to the godly.

It is a heart-quieting comfort in affliction to know that God has a hand in them. The scripture is filled with this comfort. “The Almighty has afflicted me.” (Ruth 1:21). “Though He slay me, I will hope in Him.” (Job 13:15). As Augustine observes, he does not say, “The Lord gave, and the devil took away,” but, “The Lord has taken away.”  It is a comfort to know that God is not just trying His best to react to affliction.  Rather, he has His hand in it.

It is also a heart-quieting comfort that these all work for good (Jer. 24:5; Psalm 119:71). Affliction to the godly is medicinal. No vessel can be made of gold without fire and so affliction from the Lord is essential (1 Pet. 1:6). This was true for Joseph, Manasseh, Job, Paul, and for us today.

Watson goes on to share how it works for our good by giving a list of reasons sure to embolden and humble:

  1. It is our preacher and tutor (Mic. 6:9). A sick-bed often teaches more about ourselves and God than a sermon.
  2. They make the heart more upright (Hos. 10:2).  Just like some breeds of dog will get out immediately and others will be drawn to stay in when thrown in the water, we will move towards what we delight in when we are pressed into affliction. It is not the affliction we move to, but our Lord who guides us through it.
  3. They conform us to Christ (Isa. 53:3).
  4. They are destructive to sin. The best hearts still have corruption. Affliction works out sin like fire will work out the dross from Gold.
  5. It loosens our hearts from the world.
  6. They make way for comfort (Hos. 2:15).
  7. They magnify us (Job 7:17).
  8. They are the means of making us happy (Job 5:17). When our world is set on fire, we will run to Him.
  9. They put silence to the wicked from saying that we only serve God for self-interest (Job 1:9,20; 13:15).
  10. They make way for glory (2 Cor. 4:17).
  1. The sad evil of temptationis overruled for good to the godly.

Watson begins by giving insight into the subtle methods that the devil uses to draw us into sin. The devil is a long time student of people who observes our temperament and constitution before laying out the perfect bait. He will choose to do this at the most optimal time. He then resourcefully uses our nearest and best relations. He will also use a religious spin if he can so that we will justify our sin.

There are limits that the tempter has in his power and reach, and Watson points these out before he finishes by looking at the 8 ways these temptations are overruled for good:

  1. It sends the soul to prayer.  Watson says, “The more furiously Satan tempts, the more fervently the saint prays. The deer being shot with the dart runs faster to the water.”
  2. It can be a means to make us more stubborn against sin.
  3. It abates the swelling of pride (2 Cor. 12:7).
  4. It argues for our sincerity and courage. Being attacked will stir in us a desire to draw our sword and fight.
  5. It makes those who are tempted fit to comfort others.
  6. It stirs up paternal compassion in God to those who are tempted.
  7. It makes the saints long more for heaven.  It is there that the saint will be out of gunshot.
  8. It engages the strength of Christ for us.  Christ is our friend, and when we are tempted, He sets all His power working in us (Heb. 2:18; Rom. 8:37).

Luther once said that “There are three things that make a Christian – Prayer, meditation on God’s Word, and temptation.”  Paul, in his voyage to Rome, was met with a contrary wind (Acts 27:4). So the wind of temptation is a contrary wind to that of the Spirit; BUT GOD makes use of this cross-wind, to blow the saints to the cross and to heaven.

It can be so difficult to see at times how the WORST things work for our good.  But Watson takes this head-on as he focuses us on how even affliction and temptation can be used for our good.  In the next blog post (3), we will look at how even desertion and sin will work for the good of the godly in the end.  Even if it may not look like it, God is working the BEST and the WORST things in harmonious precision for our good. Blessed be the name of the Lord!

Take time to prayerfully meditate on 1 Pet. 1:6-7. What does this verse have to say about the trials that you or a loved one are going through right now?

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