In this study on the doctrine of holiness, I want to look into a comment I came across made by John Owens. John Owens was born in 1616 and died in 1683. He is considered by many as a giant in the history of the Christian faith. One of those men that God raises up for the church. John Piper says that Owens was a rare gift to the church. He also says that the reason God gives us men like Owens and preserves what he saw of God in books is because He loves us. The source of this comment about Owens is taken from "Overcoming Sin & Temptation" Three Classic Works by John Owen, edited by Kelly M. Kapic and Justin Taylor, published by Crossway Books.
The comment from Owens is this:
Let us live in the constant contemplation of the glory of Christ, and virtue will proceed from him to repair all our decays, to renew a right spirit within us, and to cause us to abound in all duties of obedience... the most of our spiritual decays and barrenness arise from an inordinate admission of other things into our minds; for these are they that weaken grace in all its operations.
The first thing we need to see is the glory of Christ, that means all the works of Jesus Christ, the totality of all He has accomplished for the salvation of His people. I thought of the woman with the discharge of blood in (Mark 5:25-24) when Owens statement mentions virtue will proceed from him to repair all our decays. The woman with the issue of blood had been treated by many doctors by they could not help. In verse 27 it states that she had heard the reports about Jesus in verse 28 she said if I can just touch even His garments I will be made well. Just imagine this woman's thinking process, she had heard that Jesus was healing people, a leper, a paralytic, people with demons, this woman has come to trust in the Christ so much so that she thinks I just need to touch his cloths and I will be healed, And she was. Owens is advising us that our Christianity should have and is presenting Jesus Christ to you as altogether Wonderful!! that we should be thinking about all the He has done for us, This pass Sunday was communion Sunday at my church, what better time to contemplate what all Christ has done for us. In fact when Jesus set up the sacrament of the Lord's Supper, He said to do this in remembrance of Me. We are to be thinking about what Christ has done for us. Owens is telling us whatever may be going on in our life we are to rehearse what Christ has done, we are to place it in the context of what Christ has done. Paul says it this way in (Romans 8:18) For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. Take what your are going through and get in the mindset of the Woman in Mark 5 and in comparison with the Splendor and Glory of salvation in Christ now and in the age to come, you will see the greater glory of Christ. I believe Owens is telling us the more we think on Christ (the constant contemplation) the more we will be able to handle whatever comes our way. As we are thinking on Christ, virtue comes to us from Christ to repair our decays. That is a wonderful truth of the Word of God for Christ is the apex of the goodness of God, all the good that has been performed throughout human history by types of Christ only shadowed the real thing, we have the real thing to trust in, we need only look to Christ and be healed from all spiritual decays. Another important point Owens makes is that our spiritual decays and barrenness comes from the fact that we have not held Christ close, we have not truly valued the pearl of great worth and we have not abounded in the duty of obedience, instead we have allowed our minds to be filled with to much of the world, to much of ourselves and to much of Satan, we have allowed the affection for things other than Christ to have the predominate place in our minds, and that is why we are weak in grace.
Owens makes great sense. We cannot give our minds to the control of anything other than the Word of God. Our rescue is in once again going back to the place of building Christ up in our thinking, going back to verses and whole books of the Bible, let them ring in your heart, get them in your mind once again, Let Christ have His proper place. Than we will be able to say with the psalmist "by this I know that You are pleased with me because my enemy does not shout in triumph over me. (Psalm 41:11) We must remember that we live coram Deo - before the face of God - all the time. It is only in Christ that we meet God's standard: You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:48) and but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct. (1 Peter 1:15) We must not make the tragic mistake that God is going to judge on a curve.
Let us take Owens advice which is sound, biblical advice. The Bible tells us that our minds need to be renewed our way of thinking is unbilical and we need to let the word of Christ (the whole Bible) deal in us richly, the more we do that the more holy we will become. In the first chapter of Colossians we see that Christ has been given the Pre-eminence - right now He has it - we need to consider does He have the pre-eminence in our minds, in our actions? to the degree He does is the degree that we are in the Father's will. We all should seek Him in prayer for we all can hold Him more closely.
Next study: Holiness V