In a chapter entitled “How the Soul may be Recovered from Spiritual Decay,” John Owen makes the following observation:
“When a tree grows old, or is decaying, it helps to loosen the soil around its base and then to manure it. This may revive it and cause it to flourish again. But if you uproot it and plant in somewhere else—which may appear to be a good thing to do—it will probably wither and die. This is exactly what some spiritual backsliders have done. Finding themselves growing more and more unspiritual, they leave their own church and go over to
Owen is not saying, I’m sure, that the fault never lies with the church, but he is saying that more often than not the cause of spiritual decay lies within the person and not without. And what is the main cause of such spiritual decay? Owen answers some pages later:
“The reason why the spiritual life in our souls decays and withers is because we fill our minds full of other things, and these things weaken the power of grace. But when the mind is filled with thoughts of Christ and his glory, these things will be expelled (see Col. 3:1-5, Eph. 5:8). When we behold the glory of Christ by faith every grace in us will be stirred up. This is how our spiritual life is revived (see
Therefore, if you sense decay settling into your soul, begin by looking within, repent from your sins, and make every effort to behold the glory of God in the face of Christ.