Friday, 28 November 2008


Despite some fine intentions I have been unable to resist the temptation to pick up and read.

Unfortunately what I picked up was the eminently readable and hot off the press Briefing, so hot off the press that if you click through on that link today it will still be the old issue.

Some seriously uncomfortable words about sin from Tony Payne, reviewing John Owen's book Sin and Temptation. I'm told John Owen is virtually unreadable, and frankly that is what I need right now to stop me from picking stuff up and reading. Thank you John for saving me from that.

Here we go, let's pick up Tony first because he is comprehensible. This is him talking about Owen's unreadable book:

It's a book, in other words, about self-understanding: "The man that understands the evil of his own heart, how vile it is, is the only useful, fruitful, and solid believing and obedient person" says Owen (p. 283)

What's so hard to understand about that, Tony? I hate the message, but it speaks direct to who I am.

OK, here's Owen expanding on the point:

For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other; so that I cannot do the things that I would" (Gal 5:17)...

There are these contrary principles in the hearts of believers. And if they labor not to be spiritually wise, how shall they be able to steer their course aright? Many men live in the dark to themselves these days; whatever else they know, they know not themselves. They know their outward estates, how rich they are, and the condition of their bodies as to health and sickness they are careful to examine; but as to their inward man, and their principles as to God and eternity, they know little or nothing of themselves, Indeed, few labor to grow wise in this matter, few study themselves as they ought, are acquainted with the evils of their own hearts as they ought; on which yet the whole course of their obedience, and consequently of their eternal condition, does depend.

Hmm, OK, there is a bit of work involved there. Not so much at the level of comprehension, though. The idea that we would know how much money we have and how healthy our bodies are, yet remain completely ignorant of our spiritual state, is easy to understand. But it is quite hard to hear.

Anyway I am glad, Tony, that you said it is difficult reading and I will trust your word that it gets a lot more turgid than this.You've given me another good reason for avoiding books that aren't the Bible and getting on with my work. Thank you!

1 comment:

Peter Kirsop said...

I dont find that hard to understand at all, its all too true. Even when I want to do the right thing, when I know I should examine myself when I should change my ways I am dragged backwards.

How well Paul said it in Romans

And if it happened to a great one like him why should I be different?

Wish I was though