On Temptation by John Owen

TemptationOwen, John. Of Temptation: The Nature and Power of It; the Danger of Entering Into It; and the Means of Preventing That Danger with a Resolution of Sundry Cases Thereunto Belonging. Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 2007. 128 pp. $9.00. Purchase at Westminster Books for less or for Kindle.


Note: I actually read this from Volume VI of The Works of John Owen published by The Banner of Truth Trust. The book I am picturing, and the one most commonly read, is the “abridged and made easy to read” version.

I have been reading quite a bit of John Owen of late and have reviewed a few of the books I have read. You can find those here.

This particular book is the second of what amounts to a trilogy of dealing with sin in the life of a believer. Kelly Kapic and Justin Taylor brought these three together in a book published by Crossway a few years back.


Based on Revelation 3:10, John Owen continues his discourse against sin in the lives of believers. This work originally appeared in 1658, two years after On Mortification of Sin. This work is comprised of a mere nine chapters and begins with a look at what it is to “enter into temptation.”

The third chapter offers many advices on how to avoid falling into temptation. They include prayer and consideration of the temptation. Further, in this chapter, he takes a hard look at the self and considers how weak we are as humans but also how we can safeguard our self from sin.

Degrees of temptation comprise the fourth chapter while chapter six looks at various seasons of temptation. Chapters five and seven and eight offer insight into particular methods of avoiding sin. The ninth chapter concludes with a short, but powerful exhortation to the duty of avoiding temptation.


I finally got around to reading this work, again in Volume VI of the Complete Works, because I was personally struggling with temptations and, quite frankly, wanted to read one of the most recommended books on the topic of temptation.

Of the three in the “set,” I probably took the most notes in my notebook and wrote the most in the margins of the book than the others. Chapter three was most helpful as he really gave a solid outline of “a consideration of the self.” He offers a general look at the heart and how it must be a heart of flesh and not a heart of stone.

He then moves into particulars of how to actually safeguard your heart from entering into temptation. Looking over this list (after having read it a few months back!) I can see his wisdom in everything he writes.

Again, it must be noted that the language is a bit difficult, but it is definitely worth persevering in order to glean the wisdom from the pen of arguably one of the greatest Christian thinkers of all time.


I highly recommend this book to all Christians. It might be easier if you purchased the previously mentioned Overcoming Sin and Temptation instead of this by itself. Regardless, if you are breathing and you are a Christian, you need this book.