Speaking peace to myself, part 2

Rule #2 (rule #1) is definitely something I need to be careful of:

When men measure out peace to themselves upon the conclusions that their convictions and rational principles will carry them out unto, this is a false peace, and will not abide.

To explain this rule, Owen basically says that if you are wounded by a sin and subsequently convicted concerning that sin – and if you have in the past dealt with that same sin and have been healed of its wound, it is possible to simply search out the relevant passages of scripture, the appropriate promise to apply, and make yourself a nice little bandage. But God was never in the process – you never allowed the Holy Spirit to work. He gives an example of someone backsliding in some sin, and then claiming Hosea 14:4 “I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely, for My anger has turned away from him.” (NKJV) The person never considers whether or not the Spirit is applying this passage in his heart and subsequently… speaks peace to himself.

Isn’t this what we’re supposed to do? Search scripture for verses relevant to our situation and then apply them? Owen responds to the inevitable question “…how shall we know when we go alone ourselves, and when the Spirit also doth accompany us?” He gives the following answers:

  1. God will quickly let you know. Your “peace” will not last. Moreover, the first time you’re tempted again in this sin, all your logic, all your reasoning by which you’ve spoken peace to yourself, will vanish.
  2. Speaking peace to yourself in this way is usually done without waiting, a grace which God calls us to exercise when we are under conviction concerning sin (Psalm 130).
  3. Though you might ease your conscience and mind for a while, speaking peace to yourself in this way will not “sweeten your heart”: “When God speaks, there is not only truth in his words, that may answer the conviction of our understandings, but also they do good; they bring that which is sweet, and good, and desirable to the will and affections; by them the ‘soul returns unto its rest,'” Ps. 116:7.
  4. Worst of all, speaking peace to yourself in this way does you no good with respect to killing this sin in your life! Your heart has not been weaned from the sin, and, in reality, your false peace is just setting you up to fall again the next time you’re tempted.

It’s so obvious that I’ve done this many, many times… It’s good — and quite convicting — to read such a clear description of the process by which I’ve reasoned my way to some sort of “peace” in the past.

Lord, let me patiently wait for true peace which only comes from You!

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2 Comments

  1. So far, what I’ve read of Owen’s work I’ve liked. The only thing I’ve found is that I sometimes tend to focus so much on myself and my own sin, that I forget to look to Jesus. Obviously, there has to be balance, but I tend to be overly introspective. (David Powlison has preached a message on this: http://www.sovereigngracestore.com/ProductInfo.aspx?productid=A2250-03-51 )
    I think that there’s a danger for me in looking at myself so much. But I also need the kick in the man-hood, to know that I do need to be ruthless with my sin, and pursue righteousness.

  2. Then you’ll be glad to know that chapters 1-13 are, to paraphrase Owen, the prep work for chapter 14. The focus of chapter 14 is on Jesus and the Holy Spirit. (I just started in on chapter 14 last night.)

    Piper has a great series on killing sin which gives one a very good feel for the ruthlessness that is indeed necessary:

    Killing Sin, Part 1
    Killing Sin, Part 2
    Killing Sin, Part 3

    Needless to say, he strongly recommends Owen!

    Thanks for the pointer to Powlison’s message.


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