The Puritans and Spiritual Dryness: The Sinfulness of Sin
This is the second article in a series exploring how the Puritans fought and processed feeling spiritually dry. To read the first article, click here: Hope In God and His Word
What makes sin sinful? What is the Christian’s proper response toward sin? How do we deal with sin when God calls us to be holy and set apart?
These are questions Christians have asked as they pursue righteousness and holiness. In our modern American Christian culture, we have lost a sense of the exceeding sinfulness of sin. Many modern-day preachers shy away from this topic and describe sin as “making a mistake.” When we fail to grasp the depth of our own depravity and the seriousness of sin, we risk losing sight of the glory of the gospel that feeds spiritual growth.
This is another way the Puritans fought spiritual dryness – by having a biblical understanding of the heart of humanity. When Christians understand their own hearts, they will fight their flesh more effectively and grow in sanctification.
In his book, “Thriving in Grace”, Joel Beeke expounds on the right and wrong way to deal with sin in the heart of the believer.
The Wrong Way
For the Puritans, the wrong way to deal with sin in the conscience is to ignore it – to not think the prick of the conscience is serious. This can leads to despondency and slothfulness in the Christian life.
“The Puritans would say that such an attitude is pure presumption of personal salvation, but will only pave the way to hell for you” (Beeke, Thriving in Grace, pg. 54).
John Bunyan warned of sin becoming “natural.” Sin is sly, and just like Eve in the garden, we are easily deceived.
So, how do we guard against sin?
The Puritans would tell us not to silence the feeling of guilt when you sin. That guilt is evidence of your adoption as a child of God. This will drive you to your Father in heaven and awaken your heart more and more to the sinfulness of sin.
When we push the feeling of conviction away, we will feel spiritually dry.
The Right Way
Conversely, the right way to deal with sin is to be vigilant over the state of your heart and soul before God. Repent in prayer. Be held accountable for your walk of faith by a local body of believers. Stay in God’s Word.
“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of the soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).
In 2 Peter we read “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3). God has provided the Christian with His Word, the church, and the conviction of his own conscience as a way to fight sin. These combined provide a framework from which the believer can fight sin: submission to the Word of God, the community of the Church, and the prick of the conscience.
The fight against sin is a fight of faith.
This fight will one day be complete as we dwell with Christ forever in a New Garden. Our faith will be sight. We will have the Word of God in flesh, the company of all God’s Saints, and our hearts will be conformed into the image of Christ – finally and fully.
Brittany Proffitt lives in Dallas, TX, holds a BA in Religion, and is a student at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. She is passionate about Scripture and how God’s Word impacts individuals’ hearts and lives.