John Owen, Puritan theologian (1616-1683), said in his biography:
Let our hearts admit, "I am poor and weak. Satan is too subtle, too cunning, too powerful; he watches constantly for advantages over my soul. The world presses in upon me with all sorts of pressures, pleas, and pretences. My own corruption is violent, tumultuous, enticing, and entangling. As it conceives sin, it wars within me and against me. Occasions and opportunities for temptation are innumerable. No wonder I do not know how deeply involved I have been with sin. Therefore, on God alone will I rely for my keeping. I will continually look to Him.
I watched The Princess Bride last night and when I heard Miracle Max’s (Billy Crystal) line regarding reviving the hero Westley (Cary Elwes) well he’s only "mostly dead" there’s a difference between being "mostly" dead and "completely" dead. The Bible says that we are completely dead.
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, (Ephesians 2:1-6, ESV).
Without Jesus, without His work on the cross those of us who know Christ would still be dead in our sins, under God’s wrath, enslaved by Satan, and without hope in this world. Jesus raises us up with Him and seated us in the heavenly places. We are transformed – He has made us alive, otherwise we are still are utterly deprave.
We still struggle, after walking with Jesus for a little over 16 years now I still get frustrated with myself. I succumb to some of the same old temptations. I battle the flesh. I succumb. I see victory. I fail. A roller coaster. Can I get an amen? Anybody with me here?
I’m sure John Owen could relate to the Apostle Paul, as can I. You’d think Paul, author of a third of the New Testament, church planter, Apostle, and eventually martyr for King Jesus. You’d think that he’d have his ducks in a row. It would seem likely that Paul of all people would know what it means to resist the internal struggle that all those who follow Christ face.
For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me, (Romans 7:15-20, ESV).
Let us admit, like John Owen, that we are "poor and weak", but praise God that we can have a relationship with God who is not only strong, but omnipotent and able to do, "far more abundantly than all that we ask or think," (Ephesians 3:17, ESV).
We are weak He is strong. We can’t live a fruitful life apart from Him, (John 15:5).
Latest posts by Shane Vander Hart (see all)
- Dr. R.C. Sproul (1939-2017) - December 14, 2017
- There’s No Such Thing as a “Nonstraight Christian” - December 14, 2017
- Politics and Our Christian Witness - December 13, 2017