John Owen: 'The Lust of the Flesh'

John Owen (theologian) - Wikipedia


Posted at Purely Presbyterian:
“Abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul.”
1 Peter 2:11
John Owen
Temptation and Sin
Works, vol. 6, exc. ch. 6.
The Lust of the Flesh.


First, In general it is said to lust: Gal. 5:17, “The flesh lusteth against the Spirit.” This word expresseth the general nature of that opposition which the law of sin maketh against God and the rule of his Spirit or grace in them that believe; and, therefore, the least degree of that opposition is expressed hereby. When it doth any thing, it lusteth; as, because burning is the general acting of fire, whatever it doth else, it doth also burn. When fire doth any thing it burns; and when the law of sin doth any thing it lusts.

Hence, all the actings of this law of sin are called “The lusts of the flesh:” Gal. 5:16, “Ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh;” Rom. 13:14, “Make no provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.” Nor are these lusts of the flesh those only whereby men act their sensuality in riot, drunkenness, uncleanness, and the like; but they comprehend all the actings of the law of sin whatever, in all the faculties and affections of the soul. Thus, Eph. 2:3, we have mention of the desires, or wills, or “lusts of the mind,” as well as of the “flesh.” The mind, the most spiritual part of the soul, hath its lusts, no less than the sensual appetite, which seems sometimes more properly to be called the “flesh.” And in the products of these lusts there are “defilements of the spirit” as well as of the “flesh,” 2 Cor. 7:1, — that is, of the mind and understanding, as well of the appetite and affections, and the body that attends their service. And in the blamelessness of all these consists our holiness: 1 Thess. 5:23, “The God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God, your whole spirit, and soul, and body, be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Yea, by the “flesh” in this matter the whole old man, or the law of sin, is intended: John 3:6, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh,” — that is, it is all so, and nothing else; and whatever remains of the old nature in the new man is flesh still. And this flesh lusteth, — this law of sin doth so; which is the general bottom and foundation of all its opposition unto God. And this it doth two ways:—

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