Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Sin and Busyness

Oh oh, major conviction time for me. I'm continuing to read through John Owen's excellent book The Power and Efficacy of Indwelling Sin as I wrote about in my previous post.

This morning, Dr. Owen had a significant warning for me. If I have a dangerous addiction (besides coffee and chocolate), it is addiction to busyness. I love to be busy. Often too busy.

But busyness, and the weariness that can come with it, all too often provides an opening for temptation in my heart. Exactly as the good Doctor says:

The deceitfulness of sin makes use of corrupt reasonings, taken from the pressing and urging occasions of life. ... Men have not leisure to glorify God and save their own souls. It is certain that God gives us time enough for all that he requires of us in any kind in this world. No duties need to jostle one another, I mean constantly. Special occasions must be determined according to special circumstances.

So, the good Doctor argues, that if in general we don't have time for all of our duties then we are in the wrong. My wife and I have frequently expressed our surprise that God put only 24 hours in a day. "What was he thinking?" has been my frequent refrain. And only 7 days in the week?!

Owen's next statement brought the surgeon's scalpel deep:

But if in anything we take more upon us than we have time well to perform it in, without robbing God of that which is due to him and our own souls, this God calls us not unto, this he blesses us not in. It is more tolerable that our duties of holiness and regard to God should entrench upon the duties of our callings and employments in this world than on the contrary; and yet neither does God require this at our hands, in an ordinary manner or course. (Overcoming Sin and Temptation, p 312)

Ouch. A good pain, a healing pain.

And so sin tempts us away from the "duties of holiness" --- daily reading of Scripture, prayer, meditation, memorization, etc. --- which are so effective at combating sin, and weakens us for further temptation.

May God grant us the courage and humility (and time!) to review our schedules with these points firmly in mind.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Dealing with sin...

If you have never read any of John Owen's classic works on dealing with sin and temptation, stop reading this very minute and order your copy right away!

I've read many books on dealing with sin, and nothing outside of Scripture holds a candle to this one. Forget all those modern light and fluffy treatments; this book is the meat that you need.

John Owen is a good doctor. He knows where sin hides. He knows the dark parts of your heart. And like a good doctor, he is going to pursue those festering bits, expose them to the light, and show you how to fight them! Glorious!

You can read the original Owen to great advantage. All Puritan writers are challenging in their complexity, and Owen particularly so, but if you read slowly and out loud, you will have few difficulties. And the gold is worth mining!

However, the modern, lightly re-rendered version "Overcoming Sin and Temptation," as edited by Kelly Kapic and Justin Taylor, makes him more accessible without losing anything vital. I'm thoroughly enjoying this book, and profiting greatly!

Here's a taste: Owen discussing how indwelling sin starts small, but if it is fed, it grows until it conquers. Instead, we need to fight it with all we have the moment it begins to rear its ugly head (Overcoming Sin and Temptation, p. 289):

Sin grows not to this height at its first assault. Had it not been suffered to make its entrance, had there not been some yielding in the soul, this had not come about. The great wisdom and security of the soul in dealing with indwelling sin is to put a violent stop unto its beginnings, its first motions and actings. Venture all on the first attempt. Die rather than yield one step until it.

Friday, February 27, 2009

What happened to 2008?

It was not the best of times, nor the worst of times, but it was the most silent of times. Not one blog post in 2008.

So, in 2009, I will turn over a new leaf. Except that is a rather anachronistic expression, especially for a blog. Instead, I will make a clean <br>. I will go <b>ly into the future, not knowing where I will <head>.

I have two series planned ... we'll see how things go. Thanks for waiting, and welcome to the Year of our Lord, 2009!