Bob Dylan released "Pressing On" on Saved, the second album of his "Christian trilogy" (following Slow Train Coming and preceding Shot Of Love). In this song, Dylan sings about his determination to keep pressing on towards Jesus Christ.
In another era of Dylan's career, the theme may have been handled more ambiguously. It's a mistake to think that Dylan never explored Christian ideas before the trilogy, just as it's a mistake that assume he stopped after that trilogy, but during this period in Dylan's career he handled the subject nakedly. Many felt it was downright heavy handed, which is why this period of his career took such a shellacking from critics and fans alike.
"Pressing On" leaves no question about its meaning. If you have any doubts, just look at the lyric:
Temptation's not an easy thing
Adam given the devil reign
Because he sinned I got no choice
It run in my vein
In "Pressing On," Dylan is acknowledging his own continued weaknesses but vowing to keep striving to be a godly man. The song also discusses all the resistance he met during this period of his life, marked by the line, "Many try to stop me, shake me up in my mind."
One lyric makes a direct reference to the Bible:
What kind of sign they need when it all come from within
When what's lost has been found, what's to come has already been?
This harks to John 6:30, which reads: "So they said to Him, 'What then do you do for a sign, so that we may see, and believe You? What work do You perform?" and John 6:32, in which Jesus provides his answer to the request for a sign.
The sincerity of Dylan's conviction is unmistakable in this song, as with nearly all the work from his Christian trilogy. It's great emotional stuff that is too often overlooked because of philosophical differences.
The song was recorded on February 13, 1980 at Muscle Shoals Sounds Studio in Sheffield, Alabama. Jerry Wexler and Barry Becket, two of the "swampers" who ran the studio, produced the song.
John Doe did a version of this song for the Bob Dylan bio film I'm Not There.