Published on June 1, 2022 by Steve West

Banner of Truth, 1967 | 648 pages

A Brief Book Summary from Books At a Glance

by Steve West


Editor’s Note:  Most of our readers will already be at least somewhat acquainted with John Owen (1616-1683), “the prince of Puritans,” but it is not likely that many have read him extensively. His works are not only voluminous – they are tightly packed and deeply considered. Owen is neither quick nor light reading!

Today we continue our year-long series of summaries of Owen’s famous works. We trust these will be of help in introducing and/or increasing your acquaintance with this giant Puritan theologian.


Table of Contents

On the Mortification of Sin
On Temptation
On Indwelling Sin in Believers
Exposition of Psalm 130


Summary, Part 3


On Indwelling Sin in Believers


Chapters I & II

Romans 7 is concerned with a believer who is still wrestling with indwelling sin. Verse 21 is a crucial verse: “I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.” Notice that Paul calls indwelling sin “a law.” By this, he means that it is a powerful principle that leads us and urges us to evil. This law of sin has no authority over us, but it has great power yet in us. Paul says that he found it; he had heard of it, but he discovered its presence inside of him and learned its power. He says that he would do good but finds sin there with him. By grace, there is a prevailing will in believers to do what’s good, even though sin tries to lead us in the opposite direction. Sin is opposed to our general desire to do what’s good and also opposed to special seasons and opportunities of well-doing. When we incline to obedience, sin pulls us towards rebellion. How many know their physical state and business, yet do not know their hearts. Wake up! Our enemy is not only upon us, it is in us!

“The law of the Spirit of life” (Rom 7:2) is a power, and the law of sin is likewise a power. God’s law has a real moral authority over us, but the law of sin has an effective power. In believers, the law of sin is weakened, but its nature is unchanged and it is still powerful. Laws hold out punishments and enticements, and sin is no exception. Sin offers pleasures and makes the duties of the gospel look inconvenient and unpleasant. It is not a law that is written and given to us; much more alarmingly, it is bred inside of us. In new covenant grace, God writes his law on our hearts; sin is written in the flesh. Sin not only visits or attacks from the outside: it lives in us and is always ready to oppose the good we want to do. Since it is inside of us, it can easily entangle us and infect all that we do. Very few have a diligence in proportion to their danger. . . .


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Banner of Truth, 1967 | 648 pages

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