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“I say unto all, Watch.”

The following is from chapter 10 of John Owen’s book, known as Indwelling Sin In Believers, available for free at https://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/sdg/owen_remainderssin.html

The author is trying to help us understand how it is that Christians continue to struggle with sin in their lives after being made new by Jesus, and how to overcome this “indwelling sin,” because Jesus didn’t make us new that we might remain under sin’s power. Chapter 10 is focused on the “the deceit of sin, in drawing off the mind from its attendance unto particular duties.” I always find the Puritans edifying, in that while they are intensely self-examining, they yet turn our attention away from our feelings, to focus on God, and they’re not afraid of the idea of duty — that we have means, tools God has given us in this great salvation, and that we are responsible before God to use those means, to persevere in the salvation that God has called us to. Does God promise to keep us to the end? Hallelujah yes! And He has given us everything we need in Christ to make it all the way.

The Puritans’ language can be heavy lifting, but if you take your time with it, it yields immense benefit.

– Joe B.

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It is from the deceit of sin that the mind is spiritually slothful, whereby it becomes negligent unto this duty. The principal discharge of its trust in this matter is expressed by watching; which is the great caution that the Lord Jesus gave unto his disciples in reference unto all their dangers from sin and Satan: Mark 13:37,

“I say unto all, Watch;”

that is, “Use your utmost diligence and circumspection, that you be not surprised and entangled with temptations.”

It is called also consideration: “Consider your ways,” — “Consider your latter end;” the want whereof God complains of in his people, Deuteronomy 32:29. Now, that which is contrary to these indispensable conditions of our preservation is spiritual slothfulness, as the apostle declares, Hebrews 6:11, 12,

“And we desire that every one of you do show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end: that ye be not slothful.”

If we show not diligence, we are slothful, and in danger of coming short to inherit the promises. See 2 Peter 1:5-11,

“And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; to virtue knowledge,” etc.

“For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things ye shall never fall: for so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,” All this the mind is turned from, if once, by the deceit of sin, it be made slothful. Now, this sloth consists in four things: —

1st. Inadvertency. It doth not set itself to consider and attend unto its special concernments. The apostle, persuading the Hebrews with all earnestness to attend diligently, to consider carefully, that they may not be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin, gives this reason of their danger, that they were “dull of hearing,” chap. 5:11; that is, that they were slothful, and did not attend unto the things of their duty. A secret regardlessness is apt to creep upon the soul, and it doth not set itself to a diligent marking how things go with it, and what is continually incumbent on it.

2dly. An unwillingness to be stirred up unto its duty. Proverbs 19:24,

“A slothful man hideth his hand in his bosom, and will not so much as bring it to his mouth again.”

There is an unwillingness in sloth to take any notice of warnings, calls, excitations, or stirrings up by the word, Spirit, judgments, any thing that God maketh use of to call the mind unto a due consideration of the condition of the soul. And this is a perfect evidence that the mind is made slothful by the deceit of sin, when especial calls and warnings, whether in a suitable word or a pressing judgment, cannot prevail with it to pull its hand out of its bosom; that is, to set about the special duties that it is called unto.

3dly. Weak and ineffectual attempts to recover itself unto its duty. Proverbs 26:14,

“As the door turneth upon its hinges, so doth the slothful man upon his bed.”

In the turning of a door upon its hinges, there is some motion but no progress. It removes up and down, but is still in the place and posture that it was. So is it with the spiritually slothful man on his bed, or in his security. He makes some motions or faint endeavors towards a discharge of his duty, but goes not on. There where he was one day, there he is the next; yea, there where he was one year, he is the next. His endeavors are faint, cold, and evanid; he gets no ground by them, but is always beginning and never finishing his work.

4thly. Heartlessness upon the apprehensions of difficulties and discouragements. Proverbs 22:13,

“The slothful man saith, There is a lion without, I shall be slain in the streets.”

Every difficulty deters him from duty. He thinks it impossible for him to attain to that accuracy, exactness, and perfection which he is in this matter to press after; and therefore contents himself in his old coldness, negligence, rather than to run the hazard of a universal circumspection. Now, if the deceit of sin hath once drawn away the mind into this frame, it lays it open to every temptation and incursion of sin. The spouse in the Canticles seems to have been overtaken with this distemper, Song of Solomon 5:2, 3; and this puts her on various excuses why she cannot attend unto the call of Christ, and apply herself unto her duty in walking with him.

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