Monday, March 14, 2011
John Owen as a Companion for Romans 8
I have found the reading of John Owen to be a tremendous spiritual companion and complement to preaching through Romans 8.
Sunday before last I preached on Romans 8:5-11 (Spiritually Minded) and last week I did some reading in Spiritual-Mindedness, the R. J. K. Law abridgement of Owen’s “The Grace and Duty of Being Spiritually Minded” (1681) in the Banner of Truth Puritan paperbacks series. The book is an extended meditation on Romans 8:6: “For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.”
The opening line, “In these words [Romans 8:6], we have two states. One leads to eternal blessedness and the other to eternal ruin.”
He later adds, “Every one of us lives in one of these two states. There is no middle state.”
And, “Spiritual-mindedness cannot flourish and grow if the heart is immersed in the evil swamps of worldliness.”
Last Sunday I preached on Romans 12-17 (Joint-Heirs with Christ) and also started re-reading Richard Rushing’s Puritan Paperback abridgement of Owen’s “The Mortification of Sin” (1656). This classic work is a meditation on Romans 8:13: “For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die; but if ye though the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.”
Owen defines his thesis:
“The choicest of believers, who are assuredly freed from the condemning power of sin, should also make it their business all of their days to mortify the indwelling power of sin.”
He asks, “Do you mortify? Do you make it your daily work? You must always be at it while you live; do not take a day off from this work; always be killing sin or it will be killing you.” Elsewhere he adds, “When sin let us alone, we may let sin alone….” And, “We will not be making progress in holiness without walking over the bellies of our lusts” (p. 10).