I’ve currently been reading to Sue John Owen’s Complete Works, Vol 6, “Sin and Temptation.” Needless to say, it puts a whole different and much more full light on the nature, power and efficacy and infection of indwelling sin in the believer. With in-depth studies of sin being woefully absent from most churches today, sin is not viewed by most who call themselves Christians with the vehement view of its evil and God’s abhorrence of it; it is viewed lightly, and so most professing Christians never examine themselves whether they be truly in the faith, nor whether or not they are living sinful lives, even if they think they aren’t. This will have drastic consequences in the future if not sorted out now, with God’s help and graces. The understanding of sin in a comprehensive way is most important in our living out our lives in obedience unto God. Why? Because if we love God, we will endeavor to keep His commandments, which in part means abstaining and fighting against sin and temptation, which is what we want to do if the Spirit indwells us, and evidences any interest in Christ we might have or not. And so, I would highly recommend Dr. Owen’s volume on this subject.
One of the common and overlying points Dr. Owen makes is that we must hate sin as sin. This means to hate it, and thus flee from it, because it is against God, whom we love. Please pay special attention to what he says about the following:
To fear sin is to fear the Lord; so the holy man tells us that they are the same: Job 28:28, “The fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil, that is understanding.”
Hating and resisting sin is a practical fruit and evidence of a true fear of the Lord! Which means the opposite is true: if you don’t have a detestation of sin that drives you from it, you are lacking Wisdom and Understanding (which are Christ in the Proverbs).
Here is more evidence:
Prov. 8:13 – “The fear of the LORD is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate.”
I’m afraid that not enough, if any, of either of those occurs in very many “Christians” of today.
Do you think you have a hatred of sin? If you died today, how would you be eulogized? “He was a good person,” or, “He really loved his family,” or, “He really loved the Lord.” Let me then ask, how would any of that be evidenced? Before you answer, here’s one way that WOULD evidence those things to be true: how do you compare to the following, noted by A.W. Pink in Chapter 7 of his book “The Life of Faith“:
The emperor Arcadius and his wife had a very bitter feeling towards Chrysostom, bishop of Constantinople. One day, in a fit of anger, the emperor said to one of his courtiers. “I would I were avenged of this bishop!” Several then proposed how this should be done. “Banish him and exile him to the desert,” said one. “Put him in prison,” said another. “Confiscate his property,” said a third. “Let him die,” said a fourth. Another courtier, whose vices Chrysostom had reproved, said maliciously, “You all make a great mistake. You will never punish him by such proposals. If banished the kingdom, he will feel God as near to him in the desert as here. If you put him in prison and load him with chains, he will still pray for the poor and praise God in the prison. If you confiscate his property, you merely take away his goods from the poor, not from him. If you condemn him to death, you open heaven to him. Prince, do you wish to be revenged on him”? Force him to commit sin. I know him: this man fears nothing in the world but sin.” O that this were the only remark which our fellows could pass on you and me, fellow-believer (From the Fellowship magazine).
Ponder that for a while.
And so, when you’re standing before God in the end, for what will you be known?
I too have in the past month been reading from John Owen's "On Sin and Temptation". I found quotes from it in J I Packer's book on the puritains – this led me to its blessing.
Here Owen lays out three of our duties for overcomming sin as follows:
"Graces and Duties upon whose Omission and Neglect Sin may Prevail
The first is the daily exercise of faith on Christ as crucified.
Secondly, Another duty necessary unto this end is continual prayer, and this is to be considered as unto its application to the prevalency of any particular lust wherein sin doth in a peculiar manner exert its power.
Thirdly, Constant self-abasement, condemnation, and abhorrency, is another duty that is directly opposed unto the interest and rule of sin in the soul. No frame of mind is a better antidote against the poison of sin."
This is turely a blessing from Christ.