Seeing Christ's Glory and Spiritual Decay
(Quotes in italics by John Owen from The Glory of Christ)
There is a diligence required of the believer that results in a rich entrance into the eternal kingdom of Jesus Christ (2 Peter 1:10-11). A diligence in what? A diligence in the pursuit of holiness. That is, we need to grow in grace through the means that the Lord has established for our growth. There are many duties required so that these promises might be fulfilled and accomplished in us. We must not presume on God’s goodness by neglecting the duties we are called to fulfill. So it is, that just as a person who doesn’t avail themselves of the means of staying healthy (diet, exercise…) will become ill, those who do not avail themselves of the means of grace (meditation on the Word, prayer, communion, fellowship…) will experience.
When true believers find their spiritual life is withering and they are backsliding, they become restless and begin to seek revival. True believers cannot rest happily in such a state. So what is the answer? How do we get back on track and find the joy in the duties we are to be about? The first is to be aware of and to battle sin. We need to keep a prayerful watch for those temptations that will try to draw you away from this holy duty. There are many things such as laziness, physical tiredness, the busyness of life, more enticing endeavors that will combine to frustrate every effort you make. Be watchful and stay in the fight against sin.
The second is to behold the glory of Christ. A Christian will not stay watchful and will not fight sin if they have lost sight of the glory of their Savior. If the means of grace seem dry to you, do not plunge straight into prayer or worship, but spend time meditating on the glory of Christ first and in this way the graces necessary for carrying out that duty will be roused and ready. So often we try to get back on track in our own strength, but this spiritual recovery is a work of grace and faith. This is not to say that we wait to pray and read the Word until God grants that we feel like it. It is to recognize that without a glorious view of Christ, we will not have the gas in our tanks to be about this work. Faith must seek Christ’s help and his grace both for mortification and obedience, or they will not be of any help in our healing and recovery.
May our souls be revived by the transforming power with which beholding Christ is always (emphasis mine) accompanied. Amen.