This was originally written for LRBC on June 11 2017.
The grace of God not only saves, it also transforms. This transformation of renewal only began at our conversion, and is something we carry responsibility to cultivate until the day we die. Last time I wrote I outlined the first five out of John Owen’s ten reasons why grace declines in believers and how to avoid it. Here follow the rest of those ten:
6. The enjoyment of some secret lust in the heart – these “sap one’s confidence with God and hinder the exercise of faith and prayer, so that the soul cannot ‘look up’ ” (cf. Psalm 40:12). Sin like this clouds the good and childlike faith his sons and daughters would otherwise have toward their heavenly Father.
7. The negligence of private communion with God (cf. Isaiah 43:22). It is a common axiom that relationships wane when one party becomes distant from the other, and ours with the Father likewise suffers when we neglect time with him.
8. The increase of knowledge without corresponding practice – learning theology without practicing godliness (cf. 1Corinthians 8:1; Ezekiel 33:32). This is a trap particularly for those of us who enjoy learning. But like the Dead Sea, we can become lifeless if we have much input without the corresponding output.
9. The growth in worldly wisdom – which is in antipathy with faith (cf. Isaiah 47:10). Paul’s words in 1Corinthians 1-2 spring to my mind here – they remind us to take care not to be enamoured with ways of thinking that work from different presuppositions to a Christian worldview.
10. The failure to repent of some great sin. Repentance is needed to heal the life of the soul (cf. Psalm 38:5). Reflectively praying through Psalms such as 32, 51 and 130 will help bring you into the right frame of mind for this.
I hope Christ’s people will find these useful. But remember: they will only be of use if they are put into practice!