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Pursuit of Holiness: Thank you, John Owen

I’m currently reading “Overcoming Sin and Temptation” by John Owen.

john owen

I was prompted to buy this book when I read this article: which is a GREAT ARTICLE for anyone who has a particular sin in their lives that they wish was gone (not just lesbianism, which was her particular thing that she struggled against). She summarizes some of John Owen’s thoughts very concisely.

I was so inspired by her practical advice that she gleaned from Mr. Owen that I decided I wanted more, and am now 90 pages into his book. I feel like it’s the most insightful, revolutionary book I’ve ever read. It is exactly what I need to hear to strengthen me in my battle against sin.

I thought I’d share some of my favorite quotes so far:

“The choicest believers, who are assuredly freed from the condemning power of sin, ought yet to make it their business all their days to mortify the indwelling power of sin.” P.47

Mortify: “subdue (the body or its needs and desires) by self-denial or discipline.” Before I go on telling people how I’m trying to subdue the evil desires in my life by self-denial and discipline, I MUST MUST MUST point out that there is a miracle working in the lives of all followers of Christ. That is: We are as good as perfect already. I am “freed from the condemning power of sin.” I’m no longer condemned by it, because Jesus took my condemnation to hell. My job, then, is not to earn my holiness, but to live a life worthy of my calling (Eph. 4:1). 

“Every unclean thought or glance would be adultery if it could; every covetous desire would be oppression, every thought of unbelief would be atheism, might it grow to its head (ultimate outcome).” P.53

Here’s another good reason to do what I can to mortify sin and temptation in my life. Demons are hungry fiends! They aren’t satisfied with me occasionally sinning. They’d rather I be utterly consumed with sin. As in, they want to utterly consume me. So no matter how big or small a temptation is in my life, I ought to stab it in the brains. It is not welcome here! It’ll get me if it gets the chance! (cue Kyla glancing over both shoulders, clutching a battle axe and sweating)

(cue blog readers staring at the screen uncomfortably, wondering if Kyla’s gone ’round the bend at last…)

“He who does not kill sin in his way takes no steps toward his journey’s end. He who finds not opposition from it, and who sets not himself in every particular to its mortification, is at peace with it, not dying to it.” P.55

In other words, if you’re not against sin, you’re for it. I’ve noticed this in my life. Sometimes I’ll think that I’ve beaten my gluttony, but really I just can’t notice it at the moment because I’m distracted. So I leave it alone, thinking “Ah, me and gluttony are cool now. I won’t bother it, and it won’t bother me!” Suddenly gluttony shows up and moans, “feed me.” and I come bowing and scraping to fulfil gluttony’s every need. I treat it like a guest, not like a mortal enemy. Looking back on my life, I can see that gluttony and lust have maintained a steady foothold in my life by executing a strategy of well-timed retreat and attack. They let me think I’ve “won,” and then if I give in “just a little bit” I feel as if I’ve accomplished something, because I’ve only eaten two extra cookies instead of ten. Gluttony doesn’t care! Because gluttony has maintained that point of access for another day with a teeny tiny victory. Grr. It just makes me want to go on a rampage. But wars aren’t won by rampages. Wars are won by perseverance and good strategy. It also helps when you utilize your main ally, especially if that ally is the Holy Spirit.

Anyway, those are some thoughts from John Owen’s book called “Overcoming Sin and Temptation.” I’m just eating it up. It’s great!

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