What’s Your Disposition?


This quote is jimmy-jam packed with pastoral wisdom. John Owen understood that the way our bodies are wired can shape the nature of our temptations.

For example, I’m particularly prone to the sin of worry. When the budget gets tight, I don’t just worry in my head, I feel it in my chest. Anxiety. Squeezing, gripping, joy-stealing. As if someone has placed a large iron dumbbell directly on my chest. Anxious feelings then drag me back into the ring of anxious thoughts, and I take another beating from my worried mind. It’s a brutal cycle.

So can I just write off anxiety, or anger, or any other temptation as “just the way I am”? Nope! Rather, knowing the temptations that are particular to me helps me fight sin more effectively. Knowing my particular temptations allows me to prepare for the battle ahead of time.

A sinking bank balance is a like a signal flare: Get ready, the battle is coming! Arm yourself with scripture, prayer, and fellowship, because it’s going to be intense. It’s going to be an all out brawl against both your mind and your body.

What are the signal flares in your life? Do you know yourself? Are you familiar with the hard-wiring of your mind and body? What sins are particularly difficult to fight?

Knowing these things will help you prepare for the battle ahead of time – to pick up the sword of scripture before you’re in the heat of the battle. Know yourself. Know your sins. Prepare for battle.


  • Greg B says:

    Like this post. It is vital to keep a close watch on yourself and to examine your own emotions and inclinations daily. I try to ask myself: What's going on inside you? What emotions are you at present feeling? What thoughts conquer your mind? What are your thoughts toward money? Your wife? The church? Whose opinion is currently occupying you? Etc.

    Great post.


  • Thomas Clay says:

    I’m particularly prone to anger when someone tells me “that’s just the way I am”. I guess it’s just the way I am….

    Great post. Even the credits from an Owen book are great!

  • Ron Reffett says:

    Hey Stephen,
    Great stuff this morning…as usual! I agree, our hearts are deceitful and desperately wicked. We need the objective truth of God’s Word to combat the subjective nature of our emotions. I’m prone to worry and anxious thoughts myself, I always envision things worse than they really are. As we fight the good fight and as John Piper states, have faith in future grace knowing that as Romans 8:32 says, He who did not spare his own Son but r?gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? He is in control and we can take great comfort in that objective truth and fight the good fight of faith!
    Ron Reffett

  • Wendy says:

    I am also prone to anxiety and often anger in relation to it. This had not been a problem until early last summer when I let “stress” take over my heart and my body- giving me migraines, tense muscles in my back and shoulders, and stomach problems- not to mention I allowed my anger toward what I thought was the source of the stress hinder my relationship with friends and with God. By God’s grace I pulled out of this hole. But ever since it has been a struggle to not let anxiety take over my mind and my body. Often I will feel it in my body before I am even aware of the worry. I will start getting a headache or my stomach will get sick. These are the red flags that help me know that I need to stop what I’m doing, look to the cross and ask my loving Father to give me the grace to trust Him in whatever situation I am in. Even though that season last summer created health problems for me, God used it to teach me to lean on Him and look to Him for everything, and those health problems are constant reminders of my need for my God.

    Ron- Thank you for posting the verse in Romans! It was very encouraging and a helpful reminder.

  • Stephen Altrogge says:

    Greg – Those are great questions. Thanks for sharing them.

    Thomas – Thanks for your encouragement! I’m glad you found it helpful.

    Ron – How often we need God’s word! It’s the only rock that keeps us stable amidst our subjective emotions.

    Wendy – Thanks so much for sharing that with us. I’m grateful that God is teaching you to lean on him, even in the midst of trials!

  • Sarah A says:

    I’m a bit like Thomas – I get very frustrated when people say “I’m naturally…..(short-tempered, negative, prone to …) so I can’t help myself.” It feels like they’re blaming God for making them a certain way and there’s nothing they can do about it. I do believe that we all have our natural tendencies but I also believe that we have the ability to be proactive and better ourselves and work on our weaknesses.
    Thanks for the post. Know yourself, prepare for battle – very good advice.

  • Rachael says:

    Good idea to think about the sins when not in the heat of battle. I think my mom has given similar advice.

  • Sarah A says:

    Just a quote I read on my friend’s blog made me think of this post…good stuff..

    The reason why many fail in battle is
    because they wait until the hour of battle.
    The reason why others succeed is
    because they have gained their victory
    on their knees long before the battle came…
    Anticipate your battles;
    fight them on your knees
    before temptation comes,
    and you will always have victory.

    – Reuben Torrey Archer

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