Monday, September 24, 2012

The Four Powers of the Gospel, For the Battle Against Temptation

A brief paraphrase of John Owen (1616-1683) from his book on Temptation. (Overcoming Sin and Temptation p.210-11)

To not be overcome by temptations we must become well acquainted with the Word of Christ, the Gospel.  There are four Powers of the Gospel, if known, that will enable us to effectively battle temptation and not be overcome by it:

Grace and Mercy - is able to save us: "it is the power of God for salvation" (Rom 1:16), "the grace of God... bringing salvation" (Titus 2:11), "the word implanted, which is able to save your souls." (James 1:21) When the soul comes to know the Grace and Mercy of the Word, its ability to pardon, and its eternal inheritance, it will fight to protect the Word and keep it close.

Holiness and Purity - is able to sanctify us: Jesus says, "You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you." (John 15:3) And He prays this way for us, saying, "Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth." (John 17:17).  Those who don't know the Word as a sanctifying and cleansing power over themselves, they don't know the Word nor do they keep it. The empty professing of Christ of our day (Owen's day) knows nothing of how to do this, and therefore they are overcome by the power of temptations.

Liberty and Power - is able to exalt us and set us free.  Not only does the Gospel set us free from the guilt of sin and wrath, done by Grace and Mercy; not only does it also set us free from the power of sin, done by Holiness and Purity; but it also sets us free from the opinions of man and the world that might entangle and enslave us.  It declares us to be free in Christ (John 8:32), and in bondage to no one (1 Cor 7:23).  However, we are not free from subjection to superiors nor free to sin (1 Pet 2:16).  But it is a freedom from bondage in respect to conscience in our worship of God (Gal 5:1), and in respect of enslavement to man and the things of this world.  The Gospel gives us a free and noble spirit, in subjection to God and no one else.  It is a spirit not "of timidity, but of power, love, and discipline." (2 Tim 1:7).  Those who rightly know the Word as Liberty and Power are freed from many great temptations.

Consoling - is able to support us in every condition, and to be our full portion when we are in need.  It is "joy inexpressible and full of glory." (1 Pet 1:8).  It is able to give us relief, peace, joy, and glory in every condition possible.  So, rightly knowing the power of His Word to Console us enables us to battle temptation, and not be overcome by its power.

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