John Owen on Apostasy – Part Seven

VI. Pride and vanity of the mind, sloth and negligence, love of the world, causes of apostasy- The work of Satan and judgments of God in this matter


“The innate pride and vanity of the minds of men is another means whereby they are disposed and inclined unto an apostasy from the profession of evangelical truth.”[1]


In the sixth chapter of Owen’s work, he delves into the topic of man’s own flesh and mind and how that causes apostasy. Here Owen goes through the way man’s thought process happens, and deals with a number of areas in which the nature of man’s mind hinders the person from seeing the truth of the gospel. He makes this clear when he states in the beginning of the chapter:

He mind of man is naturally lifted up with high thoughts in itself and of itself… In all things the mind of man would be its own measure, guide, and rule, continually teeming with these two evils: — 1. It exalts imaginations of its own, which it loves, applauds, dotes on, and adheres unto…. 2. It makes itself the sole and absolute judge of what is divinely proposed unto it, whether it be true or false, good or evil, to be received or rejected, without desire or expectation of any supernatural guidance or assistance; and whatever is unsuited unto its own prejudicate imaginations, it is ready to scorn and despise.[2]

Owen’s purpose throughout this chapter is to reveal to the reader how man’s mind is unable to judge and discern the difference between what is truthful in the gospel, and their own line of thinking in which they have taught themselves to be so-called “correct.” He then shows how the corruption of the mind happens, and the process that the unbeliever goes through when they corrupt their mind by their own self. Doing this, he moves to three more areas of how man thinks: 1. Dealing with how man’s mind is limited without the Spirit of Truth, 2. Man’s reasoning behind its corruption and total depravity, and 3. Man’s making of their own doctrines in order to justify their continual living in sin.[3]

            From there, Owen’s second half of chapter six shows the issue of how man’s mind without the Spirit will try to make his own assurance. Here Owen deals with how man will tell themselves a number of different lies in order to make themselves feel secure in their own flesh. This shows the false hope and the false reasoning behind man’s mind when working without the Spirit (as he discussed previously in the chapter). Lastly, Owen touches on two different areas which can contribute to feeding man’s mind with constant lies: 1. Wordiness, and 2. Satan. However, Owen does not leave his chapter without showing the Sovereignty of God and the Supremacy of Christ being infinitely superior to that of man’s sin. After dealing with two heart-breaking realities that trap man into continual sin, he emphasizes that God is not conquered by these realities. Finishing this thought, he shows the sovereignty of God in the truth that although He will allow those apostates to continue in their lives, His justice reigns supremely among all of creation and will have the final word when all is said and done.


I. The Flesh of Man Causes Apostasy

A.   Man’s Thought of Himself

1.     Man’s Mind

2.     Man’s Limitedness

3.     Man’s Reason for Depravity

4.     Man’s Making for Doctrine

B.    False Assurance

1.     Neglecting of the Spirit

2.     False Security

C.    Love of the World

D.   Satan Drawing Men into Apostasy

E.    God’s Final Victory

     [1] John Owen, The Works of John Owen, vol. 7 (Banner of Truth Trust: London, 1965), p. 123.

     [2]  John Owen, The Works of John Owen, vol. 7 (Banner of Truth Trust: London, 1965), p. 123-4.

     [3] John Owen, The Works of John Owen, vol. 7 (Banner of Truth Trust: London, 1965), p. 135-6. 


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