Sin Chapter 10

Overcoming Sin and Temptation by John Owen

We have not as yet brought unto an issue the first way of the working of the
deceit of sin—namely, in its drawing away of the mind from the discharge of
its duty, which we insist upon the longer upon a double account:
First, because of its importance and concern. If the mind be drawn
off—if it be tainted, weakened, turned aside from a due and strict attendance
unto its charge and office—the whole soul, will, and affections are certainly
entangled and drawn into sin; as has been in part declared, and will afterward
further appear. This we ought therefore to give diligent heed unto, which is
the design of the apostle’s exhortation: “Therefore we ought to give the more
earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should
let them slip” (Heb. 2:1). It is a failure of our minds, by the deceitfulness of
sin, in losing the life, power, sense, and impression of the word, which he cautions
us against. And there is no way to prevent it but by giving of most
“earnest heed unto the things which we have heard,” which expresses the
whole duty of our minds in attending unto obedience.
Secondly, because the actings and workings of the mind being spiritual
[and thus affected by sin], are such as the conscience unless clearly enlightened
and duly excited and stirred up [against the mind’s sin], [the mind] is
not affected with [them], so as to take due notice of them. Conscience is not
apt to exercise reflex acts upon the mind’s failures, as principally respecting
the acts of the whole soul. When the affections are entangled with sin (of
which afterward), or the will begins to conceive it by its express consent, conscience
is apt to make an uproar in the soul, and to give it no rest or quiet
until the soul be reclaimed, or itself be one way or other bribed or debauched;
but these neglects of the mind being spiritual, without very diligent attendance
they are seldom taken notice of. Our minds are often in the Scriptures called
our spirits—as, “Whom I serve with my spirit” (Rom. 1:9)—and are distinguished
from the soul, which principally intends the affections in that distribution,
“Sanctify you wholly, your whole spirit and soul” (1 Thess.
5:23)—that is, your mind and affections. It is true, where the [word] “spirit”
is used to express spiritual gifts, it is, as unto those gifts, opposed to our
“understanding’’ (1 Cor. 14:15), which is there taken for the first act of the
mind in a rational perception of things; but as that word is applied unto any
faculty of our souls, it is the mind that it expresses. This, then, being our spirit,
the actings of it are secret and hidden, and not to be discovered without spiritual
wisdom and diligence. Let us not suppose, then, that we dwell too long
on this consideration, which is of so great importance to us, and yet so hidden,
and which we are apt to be very insensible of; and yet our carefulness in
this matter is one of the best evidences that we have of our sincerity. Let us
not, then, be like a man that is sensible, and complains of a cut finger, but not
of a decay of spirits tending unto death. There remains therefore, as unto this
head of our discourse, the consideration of the charge of the mind in reference
unto particular duties and sins; and in the consideration of it we shall
do these two things: (1) show what is required in the mind of a believer in
reference unto particular duties; (2) declare the way of the working of the
deceit of sin, to draw it off from its attendance thereunto. The like also shall
be done with respect unto particular sins, and their avoidance.
For the right performance of any duty, it is not enough that the thing itself
required be performed, but that it be universally squared and fitted unto the
rule of it. Herein lies the great duty of the mind—namely, to attend unto the
rule of duties and to take care that all the concerns of them be ordered
thereby. Our progress in obedience is our edification or building. Now, it is
but a very little furtherance unto a building that a man bring wood and
stones, and heap them up together without order; they must be hewed and
squared, and fitted by line and rule, if we intend to build. Nor is it unto any
advantage unto our edification in faith and obedience that we multiply duties,
if we heap them upon one another, if we order and dispose them not according
to rule; and therefore does God expressly reject a multitude of duties,
when not universally suited unto the rule: “To what purpose is the multitude
of your sacrifices?” (Isa. 1:11), and, “They are a trouble unto me; I am weary
to bear them” (v. 14). And therefore all acceptable obedience is called a proceeding
according unto “rule” (Gal. 6:16); it is a canonical or regular obedience.
As letters in the alphabet heaped together signify nothing, unless they
are disposed into their proper order, no more do our duties without this dis-
posal. That they be so is the great duty of the mind, and which with all diligence
it is to attend unto: “Walk circumspectly” (Eph. 5:15), exactly, accurately,
that is, diligently, in all things; take heed to the rule of what you do.
We walk in duties, but we walk circumspectly in this attention of the mind.
There are some special things which the rule directs unto that the mind
is to attend in every duty. As—
That, as to the matter of it, it be full and complete. Under the law no
beast was allowed to be a sacrifice that had any member wanting,109 any
defect of parts. Such were rejected, as well as those that were lame or blind.
Duties must be complete as to the parts, the matter of them. There may be
such a part of the price kept back as may make the tendering of all the residue
unacceptable. Saul sparing Agag and the fattest of the cattle [1 Sam. 15:9]
rendered the destroying of all the rest useless. Thus, when men will give alms,
or perform other services, but not unto the proportion that the rule requires,
and which the mind by diligent attention unto it might discover, the whole
duty is vitiated.110
As to the principle of it—namely, that it be done in faith, and therein by
an actual derivation of strength from Christ, without whom we can do nothing
(John 15:5). It is not enough that the person be a believer, though that be
necessary unto every good work (Eph. 2:10), but also that faith be peculiarly
acted in every duty that we do; for our whole obedience is the “obedience of
faith” (Rom. 1:5)—that is, which the doctrine of faith requires, and which
the grace of faith bears or brings forth. So Christ is expressly said to be “our
life” (Col. 3:4), our spiritual life; that is, the spring, author, and cause of it.
Now, as in life natural, no vital act can be performed but by the actual operation
of the principle of life itself; so, in life spiritual, no spiritually vital act—
that is, no duty acceptable to God—can be performed but by the actual
working of Christ, who is our life. And this is no other way derived unto us
but by faith; whence says the apostle, “Christ lives in me: and the life which
I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God” (Gal. 2:20). Not
only was Christ his life, a living principle unto him, but he led a life—that is,
discharged vital actions in all duties of holiness and obedience—by the faith
of the Son of God, or in him, deriving supplies of grace and strength from
him thereby. This, therefore, ought a believer diligently to attend unto—
namely, that everything he does to God be done in the strength of Christ;
109 i.e., missing or lacking
110 invalidated, rendered incomplete, impaired
which wherein it consists ought diligently to be inquired into by all who
intend to walk with God.
In this respect unto rule, the manner of the performance of every duty is
to be regarded. Now, there are two things in the manner of the performance
of any duty which a believer, who is trusted with spiritual light, ought to
attend unto—
First, that it be done in the way and by the means that God has prescribed
with respect unto the outward manner of its performance. And this is especially
to be regarded in duties of the worship of God, the matter and outward
manner whereof do both equally fall under his command. If this be not
regarded, the whole duty is vitiated. I speak not of them who suffer themselves
to be deluded by the deceitfulness of sin, utterly to disregard the rule
of the word in such things, and to worship God according to their own imaginations;
but of them principally who, although they in general profess to do
nothing but what God requires, and as he requires it, yet do not diligently
attend to the rule, to make the authority of God to be the sole cause and reason
both of what they do and of the manner of the performance of it. And
this is the reason that God so often calls on his people to consider diligently
and wisely, that they may do all according as he had commanded.
Second, the affections of the heart and mind in duties belong to the performance
of them in the inward manner. The prescriptions and commands
of God for attendance hereunto are innumerable, and the want hereof renders
every duty an abomination unto him. A sacrifice without a heart, without
salt, without fire—of what value is it? No more are duties without
spiritual affections. And herein is the mind to keep the charge of God—to see
that the heart which he requires be tendered to him. And we find also that
God requires special affections to accompany special duties: “He that gives,
with cheerfulness”—which, if they are not attended unto, the whole is lost
(cf. Rom. 12:8; 1 Cor. 9:7).
The mind is to attend unto the ends of duties, and therein principally the
glory of God in Christ. Several other ends will sin and self impose upon our
duties: especially two it will press hard upon us with—first, satisfaction of our
convictions and consciences; secondly, the praise of men; for self-righteousness
and ostentation are the main ends of men that are fallen off from God
in all moral duties whatsoever. In their sins they endeavor for to satisfy their
lusts; in their duties, their conviction and pride. These the mind of a believer
is diligently to watch against, and to keep up in all a single eye to the glory
of God, as that which answers the great and general rule of all our obedience:
“Whatsoever you do, do all to the glory of God” [1 Cor. 10:31]. These and
the like things, I say, which are commonly spoken unto, is the mind of a
believer obliged to attend diligently and constantly unto, with respect unto
all the particular duties of our walking before God. Here, then, lies no small
part of the deceit of sin—namely, to draw the mind off from this watch, to
bring an inadvertency upon it, that it shall not in these things keep the watch
and charge of the Lord. And if it can do so, and thereby strip our duties of
all their excellencies which lie in these concerns of them that the mind is to
attend unto, it will not much trouble itself nor us about the duties themselves.
And this it attempts several ways:
First, by persuading the mind to content itself with generals, and to take
it off from attending unto things in particular instances. For example, it
would persuade the soul to rest satisfied in a general aim of doing things to
the glory of God, without considering how every particular duty may have
that tendency. Thus Saul thought that he had fulfilled his own duty, and done
the will of God, and sought his glory in his war against Amalek, when, for
want of attendance to every particular duty in that service, he had dishonored
God and ruined himself and his posterity (1 Samuel 15). And men may
persuade themselves that they have a general design for the glory of God,
when they have no active principle in particular duties tending at all that way.
But if, instead of fixing the mind by faith on the peculiar advancing the glory
of God in a duty, the soul contents itself with a general notion of doing so,
the mind is already diverted and drawn off from its charge by the deceitfulness
of sin. If a man be traveling in a journey, it is not only required of him
that he bend his course that way, and so go on; but if he attend not unto every
turning, and other occurrences in his way, he may wander and never come to
his journey’s end. And if we suppose that in general we aim at the glory of
God, as we all profess to do, yet if we attend not unto it distinctly upon every
duty that occurs in our way, we shall never attain the end aimed at. And he
who satisfies himself with this general purpose, without acting it in every special
duty, will not long retain that purpose either. It does the same work upon
the mind, in reference unto the principle of our duties, as it does unto the end.
Their principle is that they be done in faith, in the strength of Christ; but if
men content themselves that they are believers, that they have faith, and do
not labor in every particular duty to act faith to lead their spiritual lives, in
all the acts of them, by the faith of the Son of God, the mind is drawn off
from its duty. It is particular actions wherein we express and exercise our faith
and obedience; and what we are in them, that we are, and no more.
Secondly, it draws off the mind from the duties before mentioned by
insinuating a secret contentment into it from the duty itself performed, as to
the matter of it. This is a fair discharge of a natural conscience. If the duty be
performed, though as to the manner of its performance it come short almost
in all things of the rule, conscience and conviction will be satisfied; as Saul,
upon his expedition against Amalek, cries to Samuel, “Come in, you blessed
of the LORD; I have performed the commandment of the LORD” [1 Sam.
15:13]. He satisfied himself, though he had not attended as he ought to the
whole will of God in that matter. And thus was it with them, “Wherefore
have we fasted, say they, and you regard it not?” (Isa. 58:3). They had pleased
themselves in the performance of their duties, and expected that God also
should be pleased with them. But he shows them at large wherein they had
failed, and that so far as to render what they had done an abomination; and
the like charge he expresses against them (Isa. 48:1-2). This, the deceitfulness
of sin, endeavors to draw the mind unto, namely, to take up in the performance
of the duty itself. “Pray you ought, and you have prayed; give alms
you ought, and you have given alms; quiet, then, yourself in what you have
done, and go on to do the like.” If it prevail herein the mind is discharged
from further attendance and watching unto duty, which leaves the soul on
the borders of many evils; for—
Thirdly, hence customariness in all duties will quickly ensue, which is the
height of sin’s drawing off the mind from duty: for men’s minds may be drawn
from all duties, in the midst of the most abundant performance of them; for
in and under them the mind may be subject unto an habitual diversion from
its charge and watch unto the rule. What is done with such a frame is not
done to God (Amos 5:25). None of their sacrifices were to God, although they
professed that they were all so. But they attended not unto his worship in faith
and unto his glory, and he despised all their duties (see also Hos. 10:1). And
this is the great reason why professors thrive so little under the performance
of a multitude of duties. They attend not unto them in a due manner, their
minds being drawn off from their circumspect watch; and so they have little
or no communion with God in them, which is the end whereunto they are
designed, and by which alone they become useful and profitable unto themselves.
And in this manner are many duties of worship and obedience performed
by a woeful generation of hypocrites, formalists, and profane persons,
without either life or light in themselves, or acceptation with God, their minds
being wholly estranged from a due attendance unto what they do by the
power and deceitfulness of sin.
As it is in respect of duties, so also it is in respect of sins. There are sundry
things in and about every sin that the mind of a believer, by virtue of its office
and duty, is obliged to attend diligently unto, for the preservation of the soul
from it. Things they are which God has appointed and sanctified to give effectual
rebukes and checks to the whole working of the law of sin, and such as,
in the law of grace, under which we are, are exceedingly suited and fitted unto
that purpose. And these the deceit of sin endeavors by all means to draw off
the mind from a due consideration of and attendance unto. Some few of them
we shall a little reflect upon:
The first and most general is the sovereignty of God, the great lawgiver,
by whom it is forbidden. This Joseph fixed on in his great temptation: “How
can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” (Gen. 39:9). There was
in it a great evil, a great ingratitude against man, which he pleads also and
insists upon (vv. 8-9); but that which fixed his heart and resolution against it
was the formality of it, that it was sin against God, by whom it was severely
forbidden. So the apostle informs us that in our dealing in anything that is
against the law, our respect is still to be unto the Lawgiver and his sovereignty:
“If you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law, but a judge. There is one
lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy” (James 4:11-12). Consider this
always: there is one lawgiver, holy, righteous, armed with sovereign power
and authority; he is able to save and destroy. Hence sin is called a rebellion,
a casting off his yoke, a despising of him, and that in his sovereignty as the
great lawgiver; and this ought the mind always practically to attend unto, in
all the lustings, actings, and suggestions of the law of sin, especially when
advantaged by any suitable or vigorous temptation: “It is God that has forbidden
this thing; the great lawgiver, under whose absolute sovereignty I am,
in dependence on whom I live, and by whom I am to be disposed of, as to
my present and eternal condition.” This Eve fixed on at the beginning of her
temptation, “God has said, ‘You shall not eat of this tree’” (Gen. 3:3); but
she kept not her ground, she abode not by that consideration, but suffered
her mind to be diverted from it by the subtlety of Satan, which was the
entrance of her transgression: and so it is unto us all in our deviations from
The deceit of sin, of every sin, the punishment appointed unto it in the
law, is another thing that the mind ought actually to attend unto, in reference
unto every particular evil. And the diversions from this, that the minds of men
have been doctrinally and practically attended with, have been an inlet into
all manner of abominations. Job professes another frame in himself,
“Destruction from God was a terror to me, and by reason of his highness I
could not endure” (Job 31:23). Many evils he had mentioned in the foregoing
verses, and pleads his innocence from them, although they were such as,
upon the account of his greatness and power, he could have committed eas-
ily without fear of danger from men. Here he gives the reason that prevailed
with him so carefully to abstain from them, “Destruction from God was a
terror to me, and by reason of his highness I could not endure.” “I considered,”
says he, “that God had appointed ‘death and destruction’ for the punishment
of sin, and that such was his greatness, highness, and power that he
could inflict it unto the uttermost, in such a way as no creature is able to abide
or to avoid.” So the apostle directs believers always to consider what a “fearful
thing it is to fall into the hands of the living God” (Heb. 10:31), and that
because he has said, “Vengeance is mine, I will recompense” (v. 30). He is a
sin-avenging God that will by no means acquit the guilty; as in the declaration
of his gracious name, infinitely full of encouragements to poor sinners in
Christ, he adds that in the close, that “he will by no means clear the guilty”
(Ex. 34:7)—that he may keep upon the minds of them whom he pardons a
due sense of the punishment that is due from his vindictive justice unto every
sin. And so the apostle would have us mind that even “our God is a consuming
fire” (Heb. 12:29); that is, that we should consider his holiness and
vindictive justice, appointing unto sin a meet111 recompense of reward. And
men’s breaking through this consideration he reckons as the height of the
aggravation of their sins: “They knew that it is the judgment of God, that they
which commit such things were worthy of death, yet continued to do them”
(Rom. 1:32).
What hope is there for such persons? There is, indeed, relief against this
consideration for humbled believing souls in the blood of Christ; but this
relief is not to take off the mind from it as it is appointed of God to be a
restraint from sin. And both these considerations, even the sovereignty of God
and the punishment of sin, are put together by our Savior: “Fear not them
which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul; but rather fear him which
is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matt. 10:28).
The consideration of all the love and kindness of God, against whom
every sin is committed, is another thing that the mind ought diligently to
attend unto; and this is a prevailing consideration, if rightly and graciously
managed in the soul. This Moses presses on the people: “Do you thus
requite112 the LORD, O foolish people and unwise? Is not he your Father that
bought you? Has he not made you, and established you?” (Deut. 32:6)—“Is
this a requital for eternal love, and all the fruits of it? For the love and care
of a Father, of a Redeemer, that we have been made partakers of?” And it is
111 fitting, appropriate
112 repay
the same consideration which the apostle manages to this purpose, “Having
therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all
filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God”
(2 Cor. 7:1). The receiving of the promises ought to be effectual, as to stir
us up unto all holiness, so to work and effect an abstinence from all sin. And
what promises are these?—namely, that “God will be a Father unto us, and
receive us” (2 Cor. 6:17-18); which comprises the whole of all the love of
God toward us here and to eternity. If there be any spiritual ingenuity in the
soul while the mind is attentive to this consideration, there can be no
prevailing attempt made upon it by the power of sin. Now, there are two
parts of this consideration—
That which is general in it, that which is common unto all believers. This
is managed unto this purpose:
Behold, what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we
should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knows us not,
because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it does
not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear,
we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that has
this hope in him purifies himself, even as he is pure (1 John 3:1-3).
“Consider,” says he, “the love of God, and the privileges that we enjoy by it:
‘Behold, what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we
should be called the sons of God.’ Adoption is a special fruit of it, and how
great a privilege is this! Such love it is, and such are the fruits of it, that the
world knows nothing of the blessed condition which we obtain and enjoy
thereby: ‘The world knows us not.’ Nay, it is such love, and so unspeakably
blessed and glorious are the effects of it, that we ourselves are not able to comprehend
them.” What use, then, ought we to make of this contemplation of
the excellent, unspeakable love of God? Why, says he, “Everyone that has this
hope purifies himself.” Every man who has been made partaker of this love,
and thereupon a hope of the full enjoyment of the fruits of it, of being made
like to God in glory, “purifies himself”—that is, in an abstinence from all and
every sin, as in the following words is at large declared.
It is to be considered as to such peculiar mercies and fruits of love as every
one’s soul has been made partaker of. There is no believer but, besides the
love and mercy which he has in common with all his brethren, has also in the
lot of his inheritance some enclosures, some special mercies, wherein he has
a single propriety, he has some joy which no stranger intermeddles with (Prov.
14:10)—particular applications of covenant love and mercy to his soul. Now,
these are all provisions laid in by God, that they may be borne in mind against
an hour of temptation—that the consideration of them may preserve the soul
from the attempts of sin. Their neglect is a high aggravation of our provocations.
In 1 Kings 11:9 it is charged as the great evil of Solomon that he had
sinned against special mercies, special intimations of love; he sinned after God
had “appeared unto him twice.” God required that he should have borne in
mind that special favor, and have made it an argument against sin; but he
neglected it, and is burdened with this sore rebuke. And, indeed, all special
mercies, all special tokens and pledges of love, are utterly lost and misspent
upon us, if they are not improved unto this end. This, then, is another thing
that it is the duty of the mind greatly to attend unto, and to oppose effectually
unto every attempt that is made on the soul by the law of sin.
The considerations that arise from the blood and mediation of Christ are
of the same importance.
Shall I speak of the inhabitation of the Spirit—the greatest privilege that
we are made partakers of in this world?
It is from the deceit of sin that the mind is spiritually slothful, whereby
it becomes negligent unto this duty. Now, this sloth consists in four things:
Inadvertency.113 It does not set itself to consider and attend unto its special
concerns. 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” (Heb. 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 does not set itself to a diligent marking how things go with it, and what
is continually incumbent on it.
An unwillingness to be stirred up unto its duty. “A slothful man hides his
hand in his bosom, and will not so much as bring it to his mouth again” (Prov.
19:24). There is an unwillingness in sloth to take any notice of warnings, calls,
excitations, or stirrings up by the word, Spirit, judgments—anything that
God makes 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 special 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.
Weak and ineffectual attempts to recover itself unto its duty. “As the door
113 negligence
turns upon its hinges, so does the slothful man upon his bed” (Prov. 26:14).
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 toward 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.
Heartlessness upon the apprehensions of difficulties and discouragements.
“The slothful man says, ‘There is a lion without, I shall be slain in the
streets’” (Prov. 22:13). 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 has once drawn away the mind into this
frame, it lays it open to every temptation and incursion of sin. The spouse in
the Song of Solomon seems to have been overtaken with this distemper (Song
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.
It draws away the mind from its watch and duty in reference unto sin by
surprises. It falls in conjunction with some urging temptation, and surprises
the mind into thoughts quite of another nature than those which it ought to
insist upon in its own defense. So it seems to have been with Peter: his carnal
fear closing with the temptation wherein Satan sought to winnow114 him
[Luke 22:31-32], filled his mind with so many thoughts about his own imminent
danger that he could not take into consideration the love and warning
of Christ, nor the evil whereunto his temptation led him, nor anything that
he ought to have insisted on for his preservation. And, therefore, upon a
review of his folly in neglecting those thoughts of God and the love of Christ
which, through the assistance of the Holy Ghost, might have kept him from
his scandalous fall, he wept bitterly. And this is the common way of the working
of the deceit of sin as unto particular evils:
It lays hold on the mind suddenly with thoughtfulness about the present
sin, possesses it, takes it up; so that either it recovers not itself at all to the
considerations mentioned, or if any thoughts of them be suggested, the mind
is so prepossessed and filled that they take no impression on the soul or make
no abode in it. Thus, doubtless, was David surprised in the entrance of his
114 separate as chaff from wheat
great sin. Sin and temptation did so possess and fill his mind with the present
object of his lust, that he utterly forgot, as it were, those considerations which
he had formerly made use of when he so diligently kept himself from his iniquity.
Here, therefore, lies the great wisdom of the soul, in rejecting the very
first motions of sin, because by parleys with them the mind may be drawn off
from attending unto its preservatives, and so the whole rush into evil.
It draws away the mind by frequency and long continuance of its solicitations,
making as it were at last a conquest of it. And this happens not without
an open neglect of the soul, in want of stirring up itself to give an
effectual rebuke, in the strength and by the grace of Christ, unto sin; which
would have prevented its prevalency. But of this more shall be spoken afterwards.
And this is the first way whereby the law of sin acts its deceit against
the soul:
It draws off the mind from attendance unto its charge and office, both
in respect of duty and sin. And so far as this is done, the person is said to be
“drawn away” or drawn off. He is “tempted”; every man is tempted, when
he is thus drawn away by his own lust, or the deceit of sin dwelling in him.
And the whole effect of this working of the deceitfulness of sin may be
reduced unto these three heads: (1) the remission of a universally watchful
frame of spirit unto every duty, and against all, even the most hidden and
secret, actings of sin; (2) the omission of peculiar attending unto such duties
as have a special respect unto the weakening and ruin of the whole law of sin,
and the obviating of its deceitfulness; (3) spiritual sloth, as to a diligent regard
unto all the special concerns of duties and sins.
When these three things, with their branches mentioned, less or more, are
brought about, in or upon the soul, or so far as they are so, so far a man is
drawn off by his own lust or the deceit of sin. There is no need of adding here
any directions for the prevention of this evil; they have sufficiently been laid
down in our passage through the consideration both of the duty of the mind
and of the deceit of sin.

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