Wednesdays with Watson is a weekly reading taken from my favorite Puritan writer, Thomas Watson. This week’s selection is taken from Heaven Taken by Storm.
What can one do to offer violence to himself in mortifying the flesh? Withdraw “the fuel that may make lust burn. Avoid all temptations. Take heed of that which nourishes sin. He who would suppress gout or a kidney stone, avoids those meats which are noxious; they who pray that they may not be led into temptation, must not lead themselves into temptation.
Fight against fleshly lusts with spiritual weapons: faith and prayer. The best way to combat sin is upon our knees. Run to the promise, “Sin shall not have dominion over you” (Rom. 6:14); or as the Greek word is, it shall not lord it. Beg strength of Christ (Phil. 4:13). Samson’s strength lay in his hair; ours lies in our Head, Christ. This is one way of offering violence to one’s self by mortification. This is a mystery to the major part of the world who gratify the flesh rather than mortify it.
The second thing in offering violence to a man’s self consists in provocation to duty. We offer holy violence to ourselves when we excite and provoke ourselves to that which is good. This is called in Scripture, a stirring up ourselves to take hold of God (Isa. 64:7). Consider what absolute need there is to stir ourselves up to holy duties.
With respect to the sluggishness of our hearts to that which is spiritual, blunt tools need whetting and a dull creature needs spurs. Our hearts are dull and heavy in the things of God; therefore we have need to spur them on and provoke them to that which is good. The flesh hinders from duty. When we would pray the flesh resists. When we should suffer, the flesh draws back. How hard it is sometimes to get the consent of our hearts to seek God! Jesus Christ went more willingly to the cross than we do to the throne of grace. Should not we then provoke ourselves to duty? If our hearts are so unstrung in religion, we have need to prepare them and put them in tune.