John Owen is one of great preachers who addressed the theological aspects, but also the practical implications of sin in a believers life. As basic as it sounds, this is a teaching that is needed today. We have often in our teaching glossed over the need to identify sin and repent of it and continue battling it. We too often say "believe in Jesus", implying that is all we need to do for a successful life. Because we talk/practice little of repentance in our lives our witness is affected and compromised.
I was moved to step up my pursuit of Puritan writers after reading J.I. Packer's "A Quest for Godliness: A Puritan Vision of the Christian Life." Combined with references that I had heard from others, including John Piper and Mark Dever, I purchased a copy of "Overcoming Sin and Temptation" and began wading into it. Soon I was up to my knees, them my waist and neck, and finally was immersed in its wisdom. Packer's "Quest..." is actually an introduction to Owen's works and serves as a motivation for the reader to explore the writings of this frequently-overlooked spokesman of Reformed thought. Owen lived in 17th-century England and his signature theme was "Be killing sin or it will be killing you." I have read many contemporary books on the subject of sin and temptation, most of which offer "cures." What all of them seem to miss is the insidious and pervasive nature of indwelling sin, a malady that has taken every member of the human race prisoner. That is precisely where Owen's work is most clear. Unless we understand the problem clearly, every proposed cure is but an elixir that addresses symptoms without providing a fully adequate solution. As I read these three-volumes-in one, I was repeatedly amazed at the insight of this man who lived three-and-a-half centuries before me and yet so clearly understood the enemy I fight today! I strongly recommend this book, but the reader should be warned up-front that it is not a "quick read." One should take his time in going through this material, carefully digesting it, meditating upon it, and prayerfully asking God to bring it to life in his experience. This particular volume is edited by Kelly Kapic and Justin Taylor, and we owe these men a tremendous debt of gratitude for their careful annotations, namely the "translation" of much of Owen's archaic terminology. In addition, the editors have provided a very helpful outline of Owen's manuscripts, something that assists the reader in following the writer's often-difficult-to follow train of thought. This is, without question, the most significant theological book I have read this year. Pastors need to read and glean from this invaluable volume and teach its insights to their people. Before one can understand his deliverance in Christ, it is essential to know what he is being delivered from.
Amazing book. Sooo many good insights from Owens. Sometimes, well often I have to read the passages a few times before the meaning sinks in, but wow what wisdom. It is cool too that you get scripture references for a lot of what he writes. This book is like having a gold mine in your pocket, just gotta do a little digging and God will use it to bless you.
I am only part way into the book and am very impressed. The work of reading Owen is worth it. Especially if you hate sin and are tired of trying to make powerless vows and promises. It takes time to dig our roots deep. We're all tired of the "seven steps to this" and "five keys to that". No more superficail junk. Christianity is not fast food. This book is real food.