Archive for the ‘sin’ Category

Lawful Pleasing of the Senses

In sum, all pleasing of the senses or flesh, which is lawful, must have these qualifications:

1. God’s glory must be the ultimate end.

2. The matter must be lawful and not forbidden.

3. Therefore, it must not be to the hindrance of duty.

4. Nor to the drawing of us to sin.

5. Nor to the hurt of our health.

6. Nor too highly valued, nor too dearly bought.

7. The measure must be moderate rate. Where any of these are wanting, it is sin: and where flesh-pleasing is habitually in the bent of heart and life preferred before the pleasing of God, it proves the soul in captivity to the flesh, and in a damnable condition.

Ten Marks of a Flesh-Pleaser

The signs of a flesh-pleaser or sensualist are these:

1. When a man in desire to please his appetite, referreth it not (actually or habitually) to a higher end, viz. the fitting himself to the service of God; but sticketh only in the delight.

2. When he looks more desirously and industriously after the prosperity of his body than of his soul.

3. When he will not part with or forbear his pleasures, when God forbiddeth them, or when they hurt his soul, or when the necessities of his soul do call him more loudly another way, but he must have his delight whatever it cost him, and is so set upon it, that he cannot deny it to himself.

4. When the pleasures of his flesh exceed his delights in God, and his holy word and ways, and the forethoughts of endless pleasure; and this not only in the passion, but in the estimation, choice, and prosecution. When he had rather be at play, or feast, or gaming, or getting good bargains or profits in the world, than to live in the life of faith, and love, a holy and heavenly conversation.

5. When men set their minds to contrive and study to make provision for the pleasures of the flesh; and this is first and sweetest in their thoughts.

6. When they had rather talk, or hear, or read of fleshly pleasures, than of spiritual and heavenly delights.

7. When they love the company of merry sensualists, better than the communion of saints, in which they may be exercised in the praises of their Maker.

8. When they account that the best calling, and condition and place for them to live in, where they have the pleasure of the flesh, where they have ease, and fare well, and want nothing for the body, rather than that where they have far better help and provision for the soul, though the flesh be pinched for it.

9. When he will be at more cost to please his flesh than to please God.

10. When he will believe or like no doctrine but libertinism, and hateth mortification as too strict preciseness. By these, and such other signs, sensuality may easily be known; yea, by the main bent of the life.

More from Baxter’s The Sinfulness of Flesh-Pleasing here.


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Sin will be in us; it will lust, fight, and entice us; but the great question, as unto our peace and comfort, is, whether it hath dominion over us or no. ~ John Owen

Although I’ve read bits and pieces of John Owen’s writing, this is the first that I’ve read all the way through, and I have to agree with those who say that Owen is “hard to read.” It’s not the Kings English or archaisms or extra long sentences that gave me trouble, but instead it’s what a few have referred to as his density. Owen’s writing is very dense. To clarify, I mean dense as in a large mass occupying a small volume. Just about every paragraph or two could stand on its own as a solemn warning or useful instruction. There is very little filler material here. So while reading I was alternately blown away by an insight or slapped in the face by reproof (I’m dense in the other meaning, so this is a good thing). The result is that I often lost sight of how the part fit in the whole and had to retrace the route in order to make the larger connection. And while I didn’t think of it until after finishing the piece, the solution to this problem is present in the piece itself. Owen writes in outline form (numbered sections, subsections, &c) so by keeping a notepad at your side and making an outline of your own, one could more easily see those larger connections. I intend to try this method for the next piece from Owen that I read.

As a parting shot, here’s a quote regarding an idea that I for one would do well to keep in mind.

Carefully inquire and try whether such things which you may do or approve of in yourselves do not promote the power of sin, and help on its rule in you. This method David prescribes, Ps. xix. 12, 13. “Secret sins,” such as are not known to be sins, it may be, to ourselves, make way for those that are “presumptuous.” Thus pride may seem to be nothing but a frame of mind belonging unto our wealth and dignity, or our parts and abilities; sensuality may seem to be but a lawful participation of the good things of this life; passion and peevishness, but a due sense of the want of that respect which we suppose due unto us; covetousness, a necessary care of our selves and our families. If the seeds of sin are covered with such pretences, they will in time spring up and bear biter fruit in the minds and lives of men. And the beginnings of all apostasy, both in religion and morality, lie in such pretences. Men plead they can do so and so lawfully, until they can do things openly unlawful.

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It is said of some that they have “eyes full of adultery,” and that they “cannot cease from sin,” 2 Pet. ii. 14; that is their imaginations are continually working about the objects of their unclean lusts. These they think of night and day, immiring themselves in all filth continually. Jude calls them “filthy dreamers, defiling the flesh,” verse 8. They live as in a constant pleasing dream by their vile imaginations, even when they cannot accomplish their lustful desires; for such imaginations cannot be better expressed than by dreams, wherein men satisfy themselves with a supposed acting of what they do not. Hereby do many wallow in the mire of uncleanness all their days, and for the most part are never wanting unto the effects of it when they have opportunity and advantage; and by this means the most cloistered recluses may live in constant adulteries, whereby multitudes of them become actually the sinks of uncleanness. This is that which, in the root of it, is severely condemned by our Saviour, Matt. v. 28. (emphasis added)
~ John Owen, The Dominion of Sin and Grace

It hasn’t been all that long ago since I was lead to the exact same conclusion. And here, Owen’s writing reaches through the centuries to confirm that conclusion. This understanding has lead to other unanswered questions, but it’s the Lord who has brought me this far, and I’m content to wait on the Lord for those answers.

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Can any spiritual eye behold Christ dying for sin, and continue to live in sin? Shall we keep that alive in us which he died for, that it might not eternally destroy us? Can we behold him bleeding for our sins and not endeavour to give them their death-wound?

~ John Owen, The Dominion of Sin and Grace

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