But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. Galatians 5:16
These words present the way of conquering sin. It is the one great strategy against the powers of darkness if we would strangle the brats of night and hell as they seek to give birth. It crushes the egg before it can hatch the serpent. The best expedient in the world to avoid fulfilling the lust of the flesh is to walk in the Spirit. To walk in the Spirit is to fulfill the counsel and advice of the Spirit. Every renewed soul is a stage in which the Spirit and the flesh combat in hand-to-hand warfare: light against darkness, life versus death, heaven against hell, and good versus evil. God takes your side, O Christian! The Spirit of the Lord is with you if you do not sin and grieve him away. Follow his leading. Be prompt and ready to follow his promptings. Marching under this banner you shall become invincible. Believers following the Almighty go forward conquering and to conquer. ‘My soul clings to you’, said David; ‘your right hand upholds me’ (Ps 63:8(. As if he had said: ‘Go, lead on, my God. I will follow as close as I can. I will not allow any distance between us, but I will pursue your footsteps, step by step, leaning upon your everlasting arms that are underneath me, as you lead me by the hand.’ Lot almost perished in Sodom for lingering before God hastened him away (Gen 19:16). If you resist the Holy Spirit, you grieve him, and thus are alone in the battle. Open all your sails to every breath and gale of God’s good Spirit. Welcome every suggestion. Reverence every command. Cherish every gentle persuasion of this blessed exhorter. Let every inspiration find you as the seal does the wax, or as the spark does the tinder. Step into the pool when you angel stirs the water. Keep in touch with the moving of the Spirit, and all will be well.
Dr. Packer has had a long-standing passion for the Puritans. Their understanding of God and His ways with man has largely formed his own spirituality and theological outlook. In A Quest for Godliness, the esteemed author of Knowing God and a dozen other books shares with his readers the rich world of Puritanism that has been so influential in his own life.
Dr. Packer masterfully uncovers the hidden treasures of Puritan life and thought. With crystalline clarity he reveals the depth and breadth of Puritan spiritual life, contrasting it with the superficiality and deadness of modern Western Christianity.
Drawing on a lifetime of study, Dr. Packer takes the reader on a survey of the lives and teachings of great Puritan leaders such as John Owen, Richard Baxter, and Jonathan Edwards. He offers a close look at such subjects as the Puritan view of the Bible, spiritual gifts, the Sabbath, worship, social action, and the family. He concludes that a main difference between the Puritans and ourselves is spiritual maturity–the Puritans had it; we don’t.
In a time of failing vision and decaying values, this powerful portrait of Puritans is a beacon of hope that calls us to radical commitment and action when both are desperately needed.
A Quest for Godliness is a profoundly moving and challenging exploration of Puritan life and thought in a beautifully written book. Here is J. I. Packer at his very best.