“Be sure to lay provision in store against the approaching of any temptation. This also belongs to our watchfulness over our hearts. You will say, ‘What provision is intended, and where is it to be laid up?’
Our hearts, as our Savior speaks, are our treasury. There we lay up whatsoever we have, good or bad; and thence do we draw it for our use (Matt. 12:35). It is the heart, then, wherein provision is to be laid up against temptation.
When an enemy draws near to a fort or castle to besiege and take it, oftentimes, if he finds it well manned and furnished with provision for a siege, and so able to hold out, he withdraws and assaults it not.
If Satan, the prince of this world, comes and finds our hearts fortified against his batteries, and provided to hold out, he not only departs, but, as James says, he flees: ‘He will flee from us’ (4:7).
For the provision to be laid up is that which is provided in the gospel for us. Gospel provisions will do this work; that is, gospel provisions keep the heart full of a sense of the love of God in Christ. This is the greatest preservative against the power of temptation in the world.
Joseph had this; and therefore, on the first appearance of temptation, he cries out, “How can I do this great evil, and sin against God?”—and there is an end of the temptation as to him; it lays no hold on him, but departs.
He was furnished with such a ready sense of the love of God as temptation could not stand before (Gen. 39:9). ‘The love of Christ constrains us,’ says the apostle, ‘to live to Him’ (2 Cor. 5:14); and so, consequently, to withstand temptation.
A man may, nay, he ought to lay in provisions of the law also—fear of death, hell, punishment, with the terror of the Lord in them. But these are far more easily conquered than the other; nay, they will never stand alone against a vigorous assault. They are conquered in convinced persons every day; hearts stored with them will struggle for a while, but quickly give over.
But store the heart with a sense of the love of God in Christ, and His love in the shedding of it; get a relish of the privileges we have thereby– our adoption, our justification, our acceptance with God.
Fill the heart with thoughts of the beauty of His death– and you will, in an ordinary course of walking with God, have great peace and security as to the disturbance of temptations.”
–John Owen, “Of Temptation: The Nature and Power of It” in Overcoming Sin and Temptation, Eds. Kelly Kapic and Justin Taylor (Wheaton: Crossway, 2006), 204.