Monday, April 28, 2008

Leaving your Church may not be the Solution

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 Rome [that is, the Roman Catholic Church] or to some other denomination, thinking that the fault lies with the teaching of the church they are in, when in reality the fault lies in themselves. Such people have visibly withered and died spiritually. But if they had used the right means for healing and recovery, they might have flourished and brought forth much fruit” (The Glory of Christ, Banner of Truth, 1994: 160, emphasis mine).

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 Rom. 5:3-5, 2 Pet. 1:5-8)” (167).

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.

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