Outlines – Of the Temptation

Overcoming Sin and Temptation by John Owen

(Chapter 1)
I. Foundational text on temptation: Matthew 26:41 (p. 151)
II. The general nature of tempting and temptation (p. 152)
III. The special nature of temptation (p. 152)
A. Actively (p. 152)
B. Passively (p. 152)
IV. The end for which God tempts (p. 153)
A. To show man what is in man (p. 153)
B. To show God unto man (p. 153)
1. In preventing grace (p. 153)
2. In renewing grace (p. 153)
V. The way God tempts (p. 154)
A. By giving great duties (p. 154)
B. By giving great sufferings (p. 154)
C. By providentially disposing things so that occasions unto sin will be administered
unto men (p. 154)
VI. The way Satan tempts (p. 155)
A. By himself (p. 155)
B. By making use of the world (p. 155)
C. With assistance from us (p. 155)
VII.The definitions of temptation (p. 156)
(Chapter 2)
I. What “entering temptation” is and is not (p. 159)
A. It is not merely to be tempted (p. 159)
B. It is more than the ordinary work of Satan and our own lusts (p. 159)
C. It is not to be conquered by a temptation, to fall down under it, to commit the sin or
evil that we are tempted to, or to omit the duties that are opposed (p. 159)
D. It is “to fall into temptation” and be entangled in it (p. 160)
II. Conditions for entering temptation (p. 160)
A. That Satan must be more earnest than ordinary in his solicitations to sin (p. 160)
B. That the heart be so far entangled with it as to be put to dispute and argue in its own
defense, and yet not be wholly able to eject or cast out the poison and leaven that has
been injected (p. 161)
1. When Satan has gotten some peculiar advantage against the soul (p. 161)
2. When a man’s lusts and corruptions meet with peculiarly provoking objects and
occasions, through the condition of life that a man is in, with the circumstances of
it (p. 161)
III. How we know when temptation is in its hour (p. 162)
A. How temptation generally attains its hour (p. 162)
1. It causes the mind to converse frequently with evil and produces more thoughts of
it (p. 162)
2. When it has prevailed on others, and the soul is not filled with dislike and
abhorrency of them and their ways, nor with pity and prayer for their deliverance
(p. 162)
3. By complicating itself with many considerations that, perhaps, are not absolutely
evil (p. 163)
B. How we may know when any temptation is come to its high noon, and is in its hour
(p. 163)
1. By its restless urgency and arguing (p. 163)
2. When it makes a conjunction of affrightments and allurements (p. 163)
IV. Means of preventing temptation prescribed by our Savior (p. 164)
A. Watch (p. 164)
B. Pray (p. 164)
(Chapter 3)
I. It is the great duty of all believers to use all diligence in the ways of Christ’s appointment,
that they fall not into temptation (p. 167)
A. In that compendious instruction given us by our Savior concerning what we ought to
pray for, this of not entering into temptation is expressly one head (p. 167)
B. Christ promises this freedom and deliverance as a great reward of most acceptable
obedience (p. 168)
C. Consider the general issues of men’s entering into temptation (p. 168)
D. Consider ourselves (p. 171)
1. Consider that we are weakness itself (p. 171)
a) In general, all we can look for is from our hearts (p. 171)
(1) Suppose a man is not a believer, but only a professor of the gospel, what
can the heart of such a one do? (p. 171)
(2) “He that trusts in his own heart is a fool” (p. 172)
b) The insufficiency of the particular ways and means that such a heart has or can
use to safeguard itself in the hour of temptation (p. 172)
(1) Love of honor in the world (p. 172)
(2) Shame, reproach, loss, etc. (p. 173)
(3) They will not wound their own consciences, and disturb their peace, and
bring themselves in danger of hell-fire (p. 173)
(a) The peace of such a one may be false peace or security (p. 174)
(b) Suppose the peace cared for, and proposed to safeguard the soul, be
true and good, yet when all is laid up in this one bottom, when the
hour of temptation comes, so many reliefs will be tendered against this
consideration as will make it useless (p. 174)
(c) The fixing on this particular only is to make good one passage or
entrance, while the enemy assaults us round about (p. 174)
(d) The consideration of the vileness of sinning against God (p. 175)
2. Consider the power of temptation to darken the mind (p. 175)
a) By fixing the imagination and the thoughts upon the object whereunto it tends
(p. 175)
b) By woeful entangling of the affections (p. 176)
c) Temptation will give oil and fuel to our lusts (p. 176)
3. Consider that temptations are either public or private (p. 177)
a) Public temptation (p. 177)
(1) It has an efficacy in respect of God (p. 177)
(2) The secret insinuation of examples in those that are accounted godly and
are professors (p. 178)
(3) Usually accompanied with strong reasons and pretenses (p. 179)
b) Private temptation (p. 179)
(1) Its union and incorporation with lust (p. 179)
(2) It affects the whole soul (p. 180)
4. Consider Satan’s and sin’s end in temptation (p. 181)
5. Consider what has been the issue of your former temptations that you have had
(p. 181)
II. Objections and answers (p. 181)
A. First Exchange (p. 182)
1. Objection: Why should we so fear and labor to avoid temptation when we are to
count it all joy (James 1:2)? (p. 182)
2. Answer (p. 182)
a) You will not hold by this rule in all things—namely, that a man need not seek
to avoid that which, when he cannot but fall into, it is his duty to rejoice
therein (p. 182)
b) Temptations are taken two ways (p. 182)
(1) Passively (p. 182)
(2) Actively (p. 182)
B. Second Exchange (p. 183)
1. Objection: But was not our Savior Christ himself tempted; and is it evil to be
brought into the same state and condition with him? (p. 183)
2. Answer: Our Savior was tempted; but his temptations are reckoned among the
evils that befell him in the days of his flesh (p. 183)
C. Third Exchange (p. 183)
1. Objection: If God is faithful not to tempt us beyond what we can bear and he
knows how to deliver us out of temptation, why do we need to ask him that we
not enter into it? (p. 183)
2. Answer (p. 184)
a) He that willfully or negligently enters into temptation has no reason in the
world to promise himself any assistance from God, or any deliverance from
the temptation whereunto he is entered (p. 184)
b) Though there be a sufficiency of grace provided for all the elect, that they shall
by no temptation fall utterly from God, yet it would make any gracious heart
to tremble, to think what dishonor to God, what scandal to the gospel, what
woeful darkness and disquietness they may bring upon their own souls, though
they perish not (p. 184)
c) To enter on temptation on this account is to venture on sin “that grace may
abound” (p. 184)
(Chapter 4)
I. How one knows he has entered into temptation (p. 187)
A. When a man is drawn into any sin (p. 187)
B. Temptations have several degrees (p. 187)
C. When the heart begins secretly to like the matter of the temptation and is content to
feed it and increase it by any ways that it may without downright sin (p. 188)
D. When it comes to pass that a man’s lust and any temptation meet with occasions and
opportunities for its provocation and stirring up (p. 190)
E. When a man is weakened, made negligent or formal in duty, when he can omit duties
or content himself with a careless, lifeless performance of them, without delight,
joy, or satisfaction to his soul (p. 190)
(Chapter 5)
II. General directions to preserve a soul from entering into temptation: watch and pray
(p. 192)
A. A clear, abiding apprehension of the great evil that there is in entering into temptation
(p. 192)
B. It is not a thing in our own power, to keep and preserve ourselves from entering into
temptation (p. 194)
1. The engagement of the grace and compassion of God (p. 195)
2. The keeping of it in such a frame as, on various accounts, is useful for its
preservation (p. 195)
3. Act in faith on the promise of God for preservation (p. 195)
4. Weigh these things severally and, first, take prayer into consideration (p. 196)
(Chapter 6)
III. Watch (p. 197)
A. Watch the seasons wherein men usually do “enter into temptations” (p. 197)
1. A season of unusual outward prosperity (p. 197)
2. A time of the slumber of grace, of neglect in communion with God, of formality in
duty (p. 198)
3. A season of great spiritual enjoyments (p. 199)
4. A season of self-confidence (p. 200)
(Chapter 7)
B. Watch the heart itself (p. 201)
1. Labor to know your own heart (p. 201)
2. Watch against all that is apt to entangle your natural temper or provoke your
corruption (p. 203)
3. Lay in provision in store against the approaching of any temptation (p. 203)
4. In the first approach of any temptation, as we are all tempted, these directions
following are also suited to carry on the work of watching, which we are in the
pursuit of: (p. 205)
a) Be always awake, that you may have an early discovery of your temptation
(p. 205)
b) Consider the aim and tendency of the temptation (p. 205)
c) Meet your temptation in its entrance with thoughts of faith concerning Christ
on the cross (p. 206)
d) If you have been surprised by temptation and entangled unawares, what
should you do? (p. 206)
(1) Beseech God again and again that it may “depart from you” (p. 206)
(2) Fly to Christ, in a peculiar manner, as he was tempted, and beg of him to
give you succor in this “needful time of trouble” (p. 207)
(3) Look to him who has promised deliverance (p. 207)
(4) Consider where the temptation has made its entrance, and by what means,
and with all speed make up the breach (p. 208)
(Chapter 8)
IV. Another general direction to preserve a soul from entering into temptation: keep the word
of Christ’s patience (p. 208)
A. What it means to “keep the word of Christ’s patience” (p. 209)
1. The word of Christ is the word of the gospel (p. 209)
a) He is patient toward his saints (p. 209)
b) Toward the elect not yet effectually called (p. 209)
c) To the perishing world (p. 209)
2. Things implied in the keeping of this word (p. 210)
a) Knowledge (p. 210)
(1) As a word of grace and mercy, to save him (p. 210)
(2) As a word of holiness and purity, to sanctify him (p. 210)
(3) As a word of liberty and power, to ennoble him and set him free (p. 210)
(a) In respect of conscience as to the worship of God (p. 210)
(b) In respect of ignoble, slavish respects unto the men or things of the
world, in the course of our pilgrimage (p. 210)
(4) As a word of consolation, to support him in every condition (p. 211)
b) Valuation (p. 211)
c) Obedience (p. 211)
B. How “keeping the word of Christ’s patience” will be a means of our preservation
(p. 212)
1. It has the promise of preservation (p. 212)
a) The faithfulness of the Father, who gives it (p. 212)
b) The grace of the Son, which is the matter of it (p. 212)
c) The power and efficacy of the Holy Ghost, which puts the promise in
execution (p. 213)
2. This constant, universal keeping of Christ’s word of patience will keep the heart
and soul in such a frame, as wherein no prevalent temptation can prevail against
it (p. 213)
a) By the mortification of the heart unto the matter of temptations (p. 213)
b) In this frame the heart is filled with better things and their excellency, so far as
to be fortified against the matter of any temptation (p. 214)
3. He that so keeps the word of Christ’s patience is always furnished with preserving
considerations and preserving principles (p. 215)
a) He has preserving considerations (p. 215)
(1) The concern of Christ, whom his soul loves, in him and his careful
walking (p. 215)
(2) The great consideration of the temptations of Christ in his behalf, and the
conquest he made in all assaults for his sake and his God, dwell also on
his spirit (p. 216)
(3) Dismal thoughts of the loss of love, of the smiles of the countenance of
Christ, do also frequently exercise such a soul (p. 216)
b) He has preserving principles (p. 216)
(1) In all things he lives by faith, and is acted by it in all his ways (p. 216)
(a) It empties the soul of its own wisdom, understanding, and fullness,
that it may act in the wisdom and fullness of Christ (p. 217)
(b) Faith engages the heart, will, and power of Jesus Christ for assistance
(p. 217)
(2) Love to the saints, with care that they suffer not upon our account (p. 217)
C. Examples of professors coming short of keeping the word of Christ (p. 218)
1. Conformity to the world (p. 218)
2. Neglect of duties (p. 218)
3. Strife, variance, and debate among ourselves, woeful judging and despising one
another (p. 218)
4. Self-fullness as to principles, and selfishness as to ends (p. 218)
D. Cautions to take in order to be preserved from temptation (p. 219)
1. Take heed of leaning on deceitful assistances (p. 219)
a) Your own counsels, understandings, reasonings (p. 219)
b) The most vigorous actings, by prayer, fasting, and other such means, against
that particular lust, corruption, temptation, wherewith you are exercised and
have to do (p. 219)
c) The general security of saints’ perseverance and preservation from total
apostasy (p. 219)
2. Apply yourselves to this great preservation of faithfully keeping the word of
Christ’s patience, in the midst of all trials and temptations (p. 219)
a) Consider wherein the word of Christ’s patience is most likely to suffer in the
days wherein we live and the seasons that pass over us, and so vigorously set
yourselves to keep it in that particular peculiarly (p. 219)
b) Consider the works Christ performs in our days and seasons (p. 219)
(1) The pouring of contempt upon the great men and great things of the
world, with all the enjoyments of it (p. 219)
(2) The owning of the lot of his own inheritance in a distinguishing manner,
putting a difference between the precious and the vile, and causing his
people to dwell alone, as not reckoned with the nations (p. 220)
(3) In being nigh to faith and prayer, honoring them above all the strength
and counsels of the sons of men (p. 220)
(4) In recovering his ordinances and institutions from the carnal
administrations that they were in bondage under by the lusts of men,
bringing them forth in the beauty and the power of the Spirit. (p. 220)
c) In this frame urge the Lord Jesus Christ with his blessed promises to give
suitable succor at time of need (p. 220)
(Chapter 9)
V. General exhortations related to the duty of watching (p. 220)
A. If you neglect it, you will certainly enter into temptation and sin (p. 222)
B. Consider that you are always under the eye of Christ (p. 222)
C. Consider that if you neglect this duty and so fall into temptation, when you are
entangled God may with it bring some heavy affliction or judgment upon you (p. 222)

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