March 19, 2007

Overcoming Sin And Temptation - Chapter 3

So John Owen, in Chapter 3, basically addresses what could be at the heart of all the problems with sin and holiness in Western Christianity. This is the chapter where he basically says "You can't do it on your own, stop trying"...

But we're America daggonit, and we have a can do attitude. We can mortify sin in our lives ourselves. We don't need the Holy Spirit, thank you very much. I can do this on my own. I'll fast, pray, give things up for Lent, dress different, put locks on the satellite dish, throw all my food away, etc...Whatever it is, I'll come up with a 9 step program to conquer that sin and there are bookshelves full of such self-help advice.

Here's what Owen has to say about all those books and about all my and your self-efforts to defeat sin in our lives:

And indeed, I might here bewail the endless, foolish labor of poor souls, who being convinced of sin and not able to stand against the power of their convictions, do set themselves, by innumerable perplexing ways and duties, to keep down sin, but, being strangers to the Spirit of God, all in vain. They combat without victory, have war without peace, and are in slavery all their days. They spend their strength for that which is not bread, and their labor for that which profits not (Isaiah 55:2)...
This is the saddest warfare that any poor creature can be engaged in. A sould under the power of conviction from the law is pressed to fight against sin, but has no strength for the combat. They cannot but fight, and they can never conquer; they are like men thrust on the sword of enemies on purpose to be slain. The law drives them on, and sin beats them back. Sometimes they think, indeed, that they have foiled sin, when they have only raised a dust that they see it not; that is, they distemper their natural affections of fear, sorrow, and anguish, which makes them believe that sin is conquered when it is not touched. By that time they are cold, they must go to the battle again; and the lust which they thought to be slain appears to have had no wound."

What he's saying is: Without the power of the Holy Spirit, and a true communion with Jesus, your fight against sin is in vain because you have NOT the power to do it yourself. There are no quick fixes with sin. I hate that I'm 30 and really starting to learn this.

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