John Owen

JRF's #49 - Of Temptation: The Nature and Power of It by John Owen

Last year I read John Owen's classic, The Mortification of Sin.  This year I tackled his much shorter, but no less potent, Of Temptation.

Using Christ's instruction to his disciples in Matthew 26:41 "Watch and pray, that you enter not into temptation", as the foundational verse of his book, Owen then dives deep into the meaning of temptation, the circumstances by which we enter into it, and the way of preventing and resisting it.

In typical Owen fashion, the heart is laid bare and the truth of God's Word is expertly applied to both convict and offer hope to those caught in the current of temptations' flood.

Ultimately and most poignantly Owen points his readers to a Trinitarian Hope: The faithfulness of God the Father's promises to those who believe, the grace of God the Son who secures and accomplishes the Father's promises, and the power and efficacy of God the Holy Spirit who executes those promises.

I hope to cling to these promises and the God who gives them more tightly in 2013 because of reading this book.

"Confidence of any strength in us is one great part of our weakness...He that says he can do anything, can do nothing as he should."

"What a man's heart is, that he is."

"Prosperity has slain the foolish and wounded the wise"

"He that would indeed get the conquest over any sin must consider his temptations to it, and strike at the root; without deliverance from thence, he will not be healed.  This is a folly that possesses many who have yet a quick and living sense of sin.  They are sensible of their sins, not of their temptations - are displeased with the bitter fruit, but cherish the poisonous root."

" the heart with a sense of the love of God in Christ, and his love in the shedding of it; get a relish of the privileges we have thereby - our adoption, justification, acceptance with God; fill the heart with the thoughts of the beauty of his death - and you will, in an ordinary course of walking with God, have great peace and security as to the disturbance of temptations."

JRF's #40 - The Mortification of Sin by John Owen

I, along with the editors of this book, agree with J.I. Packer's assessment of John Owen's writings:

"I did not say that is was easy to read them! - that would not be true; yet I do venture to say that the labour involved in plodding through these ill-arranged and tediously-written treatises will find them abundantly worthwhile."

This book was hard to read, hard to understand, and even harder to apply.  But it is a gift to all who seek to take their sin as seriously as God does and to join Him in waging war against the enemy of our souls.  Owen has an uncanny ability to expose the darkness of the sinful heart and strip away all the masks we are so prone to try  cover our soul-disease with.  It is true that this book took me a long time to read due to it's old English style.  It is equally true however, that it took me many months to read due to the many times I had to step away from it to recover from the piercing convictions it brought about in my heart.  Many times I felt like Owen had been watching me the previous day and then wrote the chapter I was reading specifically for me.

This book will help you feel the seriousness of your sin.  And this is a good thing.  As Piper states in the Forward: "by making life easier for ourselves in minimizing the nature and seriousness of our sin, we become great victims of it...What Owen offers is not quick relief, but long-term, deep growth in grace that can make strong, healthy trees where there was once a fragile sapling."

The version I read came out of the below collection, which I recommend as it has some helpful footnotes added by the editors to help you push through some of the difficult passages and wording.  I was hoping to read the entire anthology this year, but that ain't gonna happen:



"The saints, whose souls breathe after deliverance from sin's perplexing rebellion, know there is no safety against it but in a constant warfare."

"But now if a man be so under the power of his lust that he has nothing but law to oppose it with, if he cannot fight against it with Gospel weapons, but deals with it altogether with hell and judgement, which are the proper arms of the law, it is most evident that sin has possessed itself of his will and affections to a very great prevelancy and conquest...What Gospel principles do not, legal motives cannot do."