John Owen and Spiritual Growth

Spiritual formation has become as trendy as Twitter.  During seminary I had participate in a two and half year spiritual formation track.  In many ways though spiritual formation is really just good old fashioned discipleship with a dusting of mystical/monastic influences.  Sadly, one of the biggest ingredients that seems to be missing from the modern spiritual formation movement is an emphasis on sin, and repentance.  We can spend great energy trying to be in tune with God and learning breath prayers but if we are not eradicating sin in our lives we are really taking a thimble to scoop water out of a sinking ship.  I read this quote from the Puritan theologian John Owen yesterday and I am still being convicted by it.

The vigor and power of our spiritual life depends on the mortification of the deeds of the flesh.

Owen basically asserts that there is a direct link between our willingness to destroy the pervasive sin in our lives, and our relationship with Jesus, and experience of the Holy Spirit.  I want to be careful here and say that Owen is not saying advocating a super moralism, quite the contrary.  This mortification/eradication of sin is not done through our will, but rather our awareness of need and desperation that leads us to surrender absolutely to the work of the Holy Spirit.



2 Responses

  1. Hey Ryan,
    Sorry you are not in Demarest’s sweet Calvin class. Hope to see you soon…

  2. I totally agree if you mean there should be more emphasis on ethics in many ‘spiritual’ circles.

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