It is a woeful thing to consider what slight thoughts the most have of this thing. So men can keep themselves from sin itself in open action, they are content, they scarce aim at more; on any temptation in the world, all sorts of men will venture at any time. How will young men put themselves on the company, any society; at first, being delighted with evil company, then with the evil of the company! How vain are all admonitions and exhortations to them to take heed of such persons, debauched in themselves, corrupters of others, destroyers of souls! At first, they will venture on the company, abhorring the thoughts of practicing their lewdness; but what is the issue? Unless it is here or there one, whom God snatches with a mighty hand from the jaws of destruction, they are all lost and become after a while in love with the evil which at first they abhorred. This open door to the ruin of souls is too evident; and woeful experience makes it no less evident that it is almost impossible to fasten upon many poor creatures any fear or dread of temptation, who yet will profess a fear and abhorrence of sin.
Let a soul in such an estate awake and look about him. His enemy is at hand, and he is ready to fall into such a condition as may cost him dear all the days of his life. His present estate is bad enough in itself; but it is an indication of that which is worse that lies at the door. The disciples that were with Christ in the mount had not only a bodily, but a spiritual drowsiness upon them. What says our Savior to them? “Arise; watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation.” We know how near one of them was to a bitter hour of temptation, and not watching as he ought, he immediately entered into it.
It is a woeful thing to consider what slight thoughts the most have of this thing. So men can keep themselves from sin itself in open action, they are content, they scarce aim at more; on any temptation in the world, all sorts of men will venture at any time. How will young men put themselves on company, any society; at first, being delighted with evil company, then with the evil of the company! How vain are all admonitions and exhortations to them to take heed of such persons, debauched in themselves, corrupters of others, destroyers of souls.
When by a man’s state or condition of life, or any means whatever, it comes to pass that his lust and any temptation meet with occasions and opportunities for its provocation and stirring up, let that man know, whether he perceives it or not, that he is certainly entered into temptation. I told you before, that to enter into temptation is not merely to be tempted, but so to be under the power of it as to be entangled by it. Now, it is impossible almost for a man to have opportunities, occasions, advantages, suited to his lust and corruption, but he will be entangled.
The temptation will give oil and fuel to our lusts,—incite, provoke, and make then tumultuate and rage beyond measure. Tendering a lust, a corruption, a suitable object, advantage, occasion, it heightens and exasperates it, makes it for a season wholly predominant: so dealt it with carnal fear in Peter, with pride in Hezekiah, with covetousness in Achan, with uncleanness in David, with worldliness in Demas, with ambition in Diotrephes. It will lay the reins on the neck of a lust, and put to the sides of it, that it may rush forward like a horse into the battle. A man knows not the pride, fury, madness of a corruption, until it meet with a suitable temptation. And what now will a poor soul think to do? His mind is darkened, his affections entangled, his lusts inflamed and provoked, his relief is defeated; and what will be the issue of such a condition?
What it is to “enter into temptation”—Not barely being tempted—Not to be conquered by it—To fall into it—The force of that expression—Things required unto entering into temptation—Satan or lust more than ordinarily importunate—The soul’s entanglement—Seasons of such entanglements discovered—Of the “hour of temptation,” Rev. iii. 10, what it is—How any temptation comes to its hour—How it may be known when it is so come—The means of prevention prescribed by our Saviour—Of watching, and what is intended thereby—Of prayer.
From CCEL, “In his treatise, Owen addresses the nature and power of temptation, the risk of entering into it, and the means of avoiding its danger. Owen defines temptation as anything with the ability to entice the Christian’s mind or heart away from obedience to God and redirect it towards sin. Owen warns us that our power is not strong enough to protect us from temptation; rather, it is by God’s power of preservation that we are saved. As Christians, we can guard ourselves against temptation in part by praying for God’s power to help us resist it. His treatise teaches Christians how to recognize the threat of temptation and protect themselves against it.
My heart yearns towards you, and will indulge itself a little, because we are both in the same low place—feeling our vileness, and mourning after our Beloved. Surely there never was such a one as I, so weak and wicked; so willful, not full of His will—but of my own. How I need the emptying from vessel to vessel. I need to have my purposes and enterprises broken that I may learn that His purposes shall stand fast and that He will do all His pleasure. I can say, as the repenting thief did, I am “in the same condemnation,” and “indeed justly,” receiving but the due reward of my deeds. I have been walking after the sight of my eyes. “The legs of the lame are not equal;” so when we act from sight and sense, our walk is not consistent; it is only when walking by faith that it is so. Vile, ungrateful worm that I am, what has it cost me in bitter anguish; yet the sorrow is nothing to the sin. And, as I said to you, the ill savor will come up continually, until the blessed Comforter brings the savor of rest, even the fragrant sacrifice for sin which was once offered, and which is now pleaded by Him who is the sinner’s surety and the sinner’s friend. Well, I can only lie at His feet and continue confessing all. I dare not promise to do better; I am in self-despair; but to Him will I look for pardon of the sin, and power against it.
The great enemy would suggest that you are too filthy for the fountain, too cold for the fire, too much diseased to appear in the presence of the great Physician. He does this in a wily way, bringing to mind, when you would approach the mercy-seat, some shortcoming or misdoing, in order to turn your eye away from that sprinkled blood which is the sinner’s all-prevailing plea. May the Comforter reveal Christ, as He convinces of sin, and take of His precious things–and set them against your vile ones, giving you heavenly skill and understanding to plead–His precious blood against your sin–His perfect obedience against your constant disobedience–His power to heal against your desperate disease.
“June 27.— Reading Life of David Brainerd. Most wonderful man! What conflicts, what depressions, desertions, strength, advancement, victories, within thy torn bosom! I cannot express what I think when I think of thee. To-night, more set upon missionary enterprise than ever.” “June 28.—Oh for Brainerd’s humility and sin-loathing dispositions!” “June 30.—Much carelessness, sin, and sorrow. ‘Oh wretched man than I am, who shall deliver me from this body of sin and death?’ Enter thou, my soul, into the rock, and hide thee in the dust for fear of the Lord and the glory of his majesty.”