The quote below is so far one of the key texts, in my mind, of the third book of the trilogy on sin and temptation in Overcoming Sin and Temptation by John Owen, which I’m only part of the way through. I’m reading the edition edited by Kelly M. Kapic and Justin Taylor. They keep a lot of the difficult words, but provide short definitions as footnotes. Those are provided here for the words that have a dotted underline which you should be able to hover over or touch.
Even when we have been regenerated and have the Holy Spirit dwelling and working in us, we still have an“unto God and everything of God”. Many insist that since we have the Holy Spirit and we are slaves to Christ, that the enmity towards God is gone, but I will submit Job 21:14, Romans 7:19, Galatians 5:17, 1 Peter 2:11, just as a small sampling so that we can see that this nature, or “law of sin” (Genesis 6:5), as Owen describes it, is always with us. We are deluding ourselves if we pretend that isn’t the case. Our tendency is to ignore God–not necessarily willfully–and want to sin, although we are freed from having to be slaves to sin; through Christ’s death and resurrection we have become a [re]new[ed] person in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17, Romans 12:2 NIV, Ephesians 2:14-16, Isaiah 40:31, as another small sampling).
In addition to keeping our minds on things that are above (Colossians 3:1) we also need to “watch and pray” (Colossians 4:2), and to be careful that we don’t fall if we think we’re standing firm (1 Cor 10:12).
Carry about a constant, humbling sense of this close aversation unto spiritualness that yet lies in our nature. If men find the efficacy of it, what should, what consideration can, be more powerful to bring them unto humble walking with God? That after all the discoveries that God has made of himself unto them, all the kindness they have received from him, his doing of them good and not evil in all things, there should yet be such a heart of unkindness and unbelief still abiding as to have an aversation lying in it to communion with him—how ought the thoughts of it to cast us into the dust! to fill us with shame and self-abhorrency all our days! What have we found in God, in any of our approaches or addresses unto him, that it should be thus with us? What iniquity have we found in him? Has he been a wilderness unto us, or a land of darkness? Did we ever lose anything by drawingunto him? Nay, has not therein lain all the rest and peace which we have obtained? Is not he the fountain and spring of all our mercies, of all our desirable things? Has he not bid us welcome at our coming? Have we not received from him more than heart can conceive or tongue express?
What ails, then, our foolish and wretched hearts, to harbor such a cursed secret dislike of him and his ways? Let us be ashamed and astonished at the consideration of it, and walk in a humbling sense of it all our days. Let us carry it about with us in the most secret of our thoughts. And as this is a duty in itself acceptable unto God, who delights to dwell with them that are of a humble and contrite spirit [Isa. 57:15], so it is of exceeding efficacy to the weakening of the evil we treat of.
Labor to possess the mind with the beauty and excellency of spiritual things, so that they may be presented lovely and desirable to the soul; and this cursed aversation of sin will be weakened thereby. It is an innate acknowledged principle that the soul of man will not keep up cheerfully unto the worship of God unless it has a discovery of a beauty and comeliness in it. Hence, when men had lost all spiritual sense and savor of the things of God, to supply the want that was in their own souls, they invented outwardly pompous and gorgeous ways of worship, in images, paintings, pictures, and I know not what carnal ornaments; which they have called “The beauties of holiness!” [Ps. 110:3]. Thus much, however, was discovered therein, that the mind of man must see a beauty, a desirableness in the things of God’s worship, or it will not delight in it; aversation will prevail. Let, then, the soul labor to acquaint itself with the spiritual beauty of obedience, of communion with God, and of all duties of immediate approach to him, that it may bewith delight in them. It is not my present work to discover the and springs of that beauty and desirableness which is in spiritual duties, in their relation to God, the eternal spring of all beauty—to Christ, the love, desire, and hope of all nations—to the Spirit, the great beautifier of souls, rendering them by his grace all glorious within; in their suitableness to the souls of men, as to their actings toward their last end, in the rectitude and holiness of the rule in attendance whereunto they are to be performed. But I only say at present, in general, that to acquaint the soul thoroughly with these things is an eminent way of weakening the aversation spoken of.
John Owen, The Power and Efficacy of Indwelling Sin