[Sin] endeavors to draw the mind away from a due appreciation of its own vileness and the danger that faces it. A right awareness of sin, its nature, its aggravating circumstances, and its tendency, should always be before us, especially as we see these things in the blood and cross of Christ. The heart must constantly consider that sin is an evil and bitter thing—evil in itself, and bitter in its effects—if it is to be kept safe from it. Also, a humble, contrite, self-abasing frame of heart is most acceptable with God. We should be clothed with humility (1 Pet. 5:5). This is most comely for a sinner; no other garment sits so well on him. He that walks humbly, walks safely. And this is obtained and preserved only by a constant, deep awareness of the evil, vileness, and danger of sin. This was true of the publican that was approved by God. His words were, ‘God be merciful to me a sinner’ (Luke 18:13).The sense of sin kept him humble, and humility brought him to the place where it was testified of him that his sins were pardoned. This is the great preservative from sin, as we see with Joseph (Ge. 39:9).A constant, steady sense of the evil of sin so preserved him that he ventured life and liberty in opposing it.
The law of sin therefore uses deceit to draw the mind away from this attitude, which is the strongest defense and security of the soul. It labors to divert the mind from a right sense of the vileness, abomination, and danger of sin. It secretly and stealthily insinuates thoughts which lessen, excuse, and extenuate sin; or it leads it away from pondering over it, from an awareness of it in the thoughts, as much as ought to be the case. When the heart of man has, through the Word, Spirit, and grace of Christ, been made tender, soft, and deeply aware of sin, if it later comes, for any reason or by any means, to have fewer, less weighty, or less heart-rending thoughts about sin, the mind of that man is being drawn away by the deceitfulness of sin.
37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated 38 (men of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground (Heb. 11:37-38).
Of verse 38, the Puritan pastor John Owen writes:
Of this world it is said, that it was “not worthy” of those sufferers. It was not so in the ages and seasons wherein they lived; nor is so of them who suffer in any other age whatever. The world thinks them not worthy of it, or to live in it, to enjoy any name or place among the men of it. Here is a testimony given to the contrary, — that the world is not worthy of them. Nor can any thing be spoken to the greater provocation of it. To tell the great, the mighty, the wealthy, the rulers of the world, that they are not worthy of the society of such as in their days are poor, destitute, despised, wanderers, whom they hurt and persecute, as the “offscouring of all things,” is that which fills them with indignation. There is not an informer or apparitor but would think himself disparaged by it. But they may esteem of it as they please; we know that this testimony is true, and the world one day shall confess it so to be.
Reflecting on this verse, Owen makes this observation:
It becomes us to be filled with thoughts of and affections unto spiritual things, to labor for an anticipation of glory, that we faint not in the consideration of the evils that may befall us on the account of the gospel.
Parents, how are you cultivating the above mindset in yourself and then in your children? Continue reading
See what resolution this gives rise to in Paul: everything is loss and refuse to him (Phil. 3:8). Who would go out of his way to have his arms filled with loss and refuse? And how does Paul come to have such an estimation of the most desirable things in the world? It is because of the very high estimation he had of the excellency of Christ. As we see in verse 10 (Phil. 3:10), when the soul is engaged in communion with Christ, and walking with him, he drinks new wine, and cannot desire the old things of the world, for he says, ‘The new is better!’ He tastes every day how gracious the Lord is, and so does not pine for the sweetness of forbidden things, which really have none. He who makes it his business to eat daily of the tree of life will have no appetite for other fruit, even if the tree that bears them seems to stand in the midst of paradise.
-John Owen, Temptation
Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord (Heb. 12:14).
It is true, our interest in God is not built upon our holiness; but it is as true that we have none without it.
-John Owen, Works, 3:576
“Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation” (Matt. 26:41).
Every day we face temptations. Often we enter into those temptations. We allow them to gain a footing by giving them both attention and a voice. They reason with our minds and hearts, working to convince us that they are harmless, deserved, and delightful. When those arguments, usually lame, are convincing to our flesh, we sin: “But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin” (James 1:14-15).
We do too little in recognizing, understanding, and fighting our temptations. There is a battle raging, bullets zinging everywhere, and we’ve exited the trench to have a leisurely smoke. Our self-examination gets about as deep as the coolness quotient of our profile picture. We don’t have time to examine ourselves because we have TV shows to watch. To that end, read old sermons from an age when the fear of God was not the doctrine your spoiled and narcissistic counselors were being paid to get you to hate.
…temptation may proceed either from Satan alone, from the world, from other men in the world, or from ourselves. Temptation may come from each of these individually, or they may join forces in various combinations (8).
Satan has in us an agreeable party within our own breasts, for most of his ends (James 1:14, 15) (9).
A temptation, then, in general is anything that, for any reason, exerts a force or influence to seduce and draw the mind and heart of man from the obedience which God requires of him to any kind of sin (10).
To clarify, I am considering temptation not just as the active force of seduction to sin, but also the thing itself by which we are tempted. Whatever it is, within us or without us, that hinders us from duty or provides an occasion for sin, this should be considered temptation. It could be business, employment,… Continue reading