Kelly M. Kapic and Justin Taylor, Eds.
Reviewed by: John D. Van Meerbeke
Date posted: 07/06/2008
Overcoming Sin and Temptation, by John Owen, edited by Kelly M. Kapic and Justin Taylor. Published by Crossway Books, 2006. Paperback, 464 pages, list price $22.00. Reviewed by OP pastor John D. Van Meerbeke.
Overcoming Sin and Temptation is an updated version of volume 6 of the Banner of Truth's reprint edition of the works of John Owen, the greatest of the English Puritans (d. 1683). Kelly Kapic, associate professor of theological studies at Covenant College, and Justin Taylor, Crossway's ESV Bible project manager, have done us a favor by slightly updating the language without abridging the content. Many of the words are defined in footnotes and a glossary. Many of Owen's works are available now in an updated and abridged format, but this reviewer is unaware of any other one that is updated and unabridged.
The three works in Overcoming Sin and Temptation are On the Mortification of Sin in Believers; Of Temptation: The Nature and Power of lt; and Indwelling Sin. It's a little disappointing that the fourth work of volume 6, Exposition of Psalm 130, is omitted, but it would have doubled the book's size. The editors have supplied an instructive introduction to the volume, and also to its major divisions. They have also provided a helpful outline of Owen's progression of thought (pp. 409-34). This might be a helpful place to begin reading.
The value of reading and comprehending Overcoming Sin and Temptation can hardly be overstated. It is an indispensable study of an important matter, the Christian's life-struggle against sin and temptation. It presents the biblical, theological, and practical instruction of a man who understood his subject and attempted to leave no stone unturned. (This book is not for the morbidly introspective, however. Some folks grow weary and become discouraged when they consider in detail the nature and power of sin in them.)
Be encouraged in this, that while you are called to a life of resisting sin, it is only the Holy Spirit who can mortify it (p. 80). Kapic puts this very well in the introduction: "We are prone to have 'hard thoughts' of God that tend to keep us from turning to him. Owen's goal is not to have people remain focused on their sin but rather to embrace the redemption accomplished in Christ." The Christian's goal is, by the Spirit of grace, to walk in newness of life. To that end, the book is highly recommended.