The Dagger of the Cross

Everything that is in us naturally stands in direct opposition to the cross of Christ. Even after we believe, there is a remnant of sin that remains inside us that will never really be defeated until we die or until the Lord comes back to take us. This indwelling sin may have been weakened inside but it’s still there lying dormant. And just when we feel confident that we are free from it, it suddenly comes back to life and sabotages our relationship with God.

The Apostle Paul recognized this when he wrote in Romans 7:21: “So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand.” Whenever we want to do the right thing, our indwelling sin fights us left and right. It opposes us at every turn and drags us down so our spirit could not commune with God. There is not a single fiber of our being that is not infected with indwelling sin. Everything about us is contaminated.

Continue reading The Dagger of the Cross

Fighting Resident Evil

John Owen on fighting an enemy that’s hidden deep within:

This then is the dwelling place of sin– the human heart. Here dwells our enemy. Within this fort the tyrant sin maintains its rebellion against God all our days. Like an enemy at war, it is not just his numbers and force of men under arms that are to be feared, but also the impregnable fortress that he possesses. Such is the heart to this enemy of God and of our souls. Let us then examine some of the features of this fortress.

In the first place the heart is unsearchable. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? I the LORD search the heart…” (Jer. 17:9-10). The heart of man is known only to God. We do not know the hearts of others. We do not even know the secret intrigues and schemes, twists and turns, actions and tendencies of our own hearts. All but the infinite, all-seeing God are utterly ignorant of these things.  Continue reading Fighting Resident Evil

The Law of Sin

John Owen on the law of sin:

The law of sin always abides in the soul. It is never absent… The law of sin is not simply a visitor, coming at certain times and season. It is at home in the soul.

It is always ready to apply itself to every end and purpose that it serves. “When I would do good,” said the apostle, “evil is present with me” (Romans 7:21). So you never accomplish good– when you pray, when you give alms, when you meditate, or when you do any duty to God with love for Him– without this troublesome, perplexing indweller being there to handicap you. Sin adheres as a depraved principle.

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Draining Sin’s Lifeblood

John Owen on mortification:

[To mortify means to kill,] and the end aimed at in this duty is destruction, as it is in all killing: the utter ruin, destruction and gradual annihilation of all the remainders of this cursed life of sin. Indwelling sin has been dethroned and dealt its death blow through the believer’s union with Christ in His death. Now, with the Spirit’s aid, the Christian must spend his lifetime draining sin’s lifeblood. We may not relax, for sin “will no otherwise die, but by being gradually and constantly weakened; spare it and it heals its wounds, and recovers strength.”

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Who’s the Boss?

John Owen, in his book Triumph Over Temptation, identified the three faculties of man: the mind, the will and the affections (or feelings).

The mind is the leading faculty of the soul. Its job is to guide, direct and choose. It is the eye of the soul. The will is a rational appetite: it is rational because it is guided by the mind; and it is an appetite because it is guided by our feelings. The affection includes all our emotional drives, positive and negative. It directs our choices by drawing us to or repelling us from particular things.

In the original scheme of things, man was made to know good with his mind, and once he knows it, to desire it with his feelings and pursue it with his will. All three faculties combined, we are to pursue whatever is lovely and pure and noble and true and excellent and worthy of praise.

The fall of man messed this up. Continue reading Who’s the Boss?

How to Humble the Soul

There are two things that are suited to humble the souls of men– a due consideration of God, and then of ourselves. Of God, in His greatness, glory, holiness, power, majesty, and authority; of ourselves, in our mean, abject, and sinful condition. The man that understands the evil of his own heart, how vile it is, is the only useful, fruitful, and solidly believing and obedient person.

John Owen, Triumph Over Temptation