I just began my summer reading project, and it's a challenge...400 pages called Overcoming Sin and Temptation, by the Puritan theologian John Owen. A few friends are joining me, and we'll be meeting on Saturday morning August 21 to discuss the experience and pray about what we've learned. If anyone else would like to join us, please let me know... (you can skip the introduction like I did and go straight to Owen's own words--that will cut out almost 40 pages right off!).
I'm only a little way in and I think I've come upon the theme statement of the work, which I think is also the most famous quote from it. It goes like this: "Be killing sin or it will be killing you." In explanation Owen adds, "Your being dead with Christ virtually, your being quickened with Him, will not excuse you from this work." And later he says, "Not to be daily mortifying sin is to sin against the goodness, kindness, wisdom, grace, and love of God, who has furnished us with a principle of doing it." This is all commentary on Romans 8:13, which says, "If you through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, you shall live."
In those quotes you can see the balance that Owen strikes between the free grace of God in justification and dependence on the Spirit's work on the one hand, and personal self-denial and discipline on the other. He seems to have a very wise and complete picture of the process of sanctification, which is refreshing when compared to the extremes we modern believers can sometimes fall into, in which we over-emphasize grace at the expense of the law, or vice versa.
I am looking forward to soaking in this wonderful biblical wisdom during the next two months!