The Decline of Grace in Believers (part 1)

This was originally written for LRBC on May 28 2017.

In recent months a friend and I have been slowly reading through an abridged version of John Owen’s book ‘Indwelling Sin in Believers‘. A section we read this week detailed ten reasons why grace deteriorates in Christians. The word ‘grace’ is used in a different sense to how Christians commonly understand the word. The sense here has to do with the state of forgiveness and joy that is experienced by believers when they are in close fellowship with the Lord, which in turn refreshes them with desires for him in faith, love, fruitfulness and obedience. Five of the ten reasons why this grace and desire for him decay are (very briefly) as follows:

Indwelling Sin in Believers

1. Carelessness with spiritual things makes us become indifferent to them (cf. Isaiah 17:10). Like anything precious in life, this must be nurtured and protected carefully.

2. A loss of reverence for God – a forgetfulness that he is holy (cf. 2 Chronicles 26:16). In a secular culture, it is easy to reduce God to a big friendly Santa in the sky.  

3. Forgetting the simplicity of the gospel due to preoccupation with foolish theological speculations (cf. 2 John 7-8). It is important to stay connected to Christ as he has been revealed in scripture.

4. Lack of vigilance against Satan – failing to take preventative measures against his influence (cf. 1Peter 5:8). In military contexts, sleeping sentinels get court marshalled. We are not treated so strictly in the life of faith, but failure is certainly more severe.

5. The imitation of poor examples of professing Christians (cf. 1Corinthians 5:6). Even the best saints are flawed people. Examples are undoubtedly helpful, but we must take care to discern what we imitate.

I’ll share the other five reasons in the near future. John Owen’s three books on sin in believers are deep and practical. They are well worth the effort of reading.