David Bowden. Rewire Your Heart: Replace Your Desire for Sin with Desire for God. Nelson Books, 2018. See here to buy the book.
How can Christians overcome sin in their lives? One suggestion, of course, is “Just say no.” But I have heard alternative advice from Christians over the years. “Don’t focus on not lusting, but draw closer to God, and then you will not lust.” I heard a pastor offer similar advice about smoking.
David Bowden leans more towards the latter advice. For Bowden, sin is the result of misplaced affections. We seek fulfillment from sin when only God can satisfy those needs. I remember Tim Keller making a similar point: maybe, contrary to Freud, religion is not the result of unsatisfied sexual desire, but rather our search for sexual fulfillment is really an aim to satisfy a religious need.
In my opinion, and other readers may differ, the book is a little thin on how Christians can replace their desire for sin with a desire for God. The book talks about focusing on God’s free grace in Christ. Bowden draws a lot from Reformed thought, but, unlike some prominent Reformed thinkers, he leans heavily towards the grace side of the grace-law/works/fruit continuum.
Such an approach leaves questions unanswered. How can a Christian rest in God’s grace, when there is so much in the Bible about divine wrath, the need for good works, and the contingency of forgiveness, or even God’s acceptance? If simply trusting in God’s free grace decreases a desire for sin, why do so many believers in God’s free grace still struggle with sin, and in some cases simply give in to it?
And can devotional religious activity or thinking the right religious thoughts decrease sexual desire or addictions? I do not hastily answer “no” to this question, for people do look to sex or addictions for a sense of peace or fulfillment, often in unhealthy ways. But some desires are due to human biology.
The book has its assets, though. Bowden offered effective illustrations. His interpretations of Genesis 3 and Romans 7 were intriguing. He does well to attempt to offer something positive, rather than merely saying “Just say no” to the negative.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through BookLook Bloggers. My review is honest.