John Owen’s treatise on spiritual-mindedness, from which I have already cited a quotation, is a painfully beneficial read. Worldly thinking runs so deeply within us and is ultimately both deadly and damning. Throughout the book, his aim is simply to exhort us toward spiritual-mindedness, to think about the things of God and be further sanctified in the Lord.
In the following quotation, Owen answers how exactly we are to be sanctified. His conclusion will probably not surprise you, but we must nevertheless be reminded again and again of the path before us by which we are to seek the Lord.
And how are we sanctified? Jesus prayed ‘Sanctify them by your truth. Your word is truth’ (John 17:17).
Peter tells us to ‘desire the pure milk of the word.’ Why should we desire it? ‘That you may grow thereby.’ And what encouragement does he give us to desire it? ‘If indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious’ (1 Pet. 2:2-3). If, when you hear the word of God preached, you taste that the Lord is gracious, then you cannot but desire to hear more and more of the word of God. But if, when the word of God is preached, you never taste that the Lord is gracious, then sooner or later you will grow tired of hearing the word of God preached. It is the same if you read the Bible privately on your own. If you never taste the Lord’s grace, you will soon give it up.
Therefore, we need to seek for this hidden treasure, and to encourage us in our search, we have a gracious promise:
‘Then you will call upon me and go and pray to me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek and find me, when you search for me with all your heart. I will be found by you, says the Lord’ (Jer. 29:12-14).
By means of prayer, then, we seek for this treasure; and by the sacraments all the gracious promises of God that ‘he will come to us and be found by us’ are sealed to us and effectively exhibited to us; and by meditation we open our souls to receive him and his grace. So the believer loves and delights in all these ordinances of worship (Song of Sol. 2:3).pp. 180-181