Posted by: William | November 24, 2007

Of The Mortification of Sin in Believers: Chapter Two

            As I wrote about last Thursday, I’m reading through a classic by John Owen called Of The Mortification of Sin in Believers. I’m reading along with a group on challies.com. I’ve never really done anything like it although it’s pretty cool to do and to go back each week to read about how the week’s chapter affected the different people reading it.

            This weeks chapter was essentially making the argument that mortification is not just one of the avenues within the Christian walk, but the only avenue within the Christian walk. “Be killing sin, or it will be killing you,” Mr. Owen writes. Very poignant I think and reverberates. But within this chapter there were a few things that really stuck out to me. Mr. Owen writes, “The vain, foolish, and ignorant disputes of men about perfectly keeping the commands of God, of perfection in this life, of being wholly perfectly dead to sin, I meddle not with. It is more probably that the men of those abominations never knew what belonged to the keeping of any one of God’s commands and are so much below perfection of degrees that they never attained to a perfection of parts in obedience or universal obedience in sincerity. And, therefore, many in our days who have talked of perfection have been wiser and have affirmed it to consist in knowing no difference between good and evil.”

            I sometimes find myself patting my own back at my attained level of perfection. But that’s stupid on so many levels and in truth likely highlights the very depth of wickedness in my heart. It would be better, I think for me to say to God, “I do not know the things that are good,” and say too my flesh, “I will not do that good that is by your standard.” As Mr. Owen points out, Paul himself says, “Not that I have already… become perfect” (Philippians 3:12). I would like for my attitude within my heart to always be one of, “look at my imperfections, let me appeal to the Lord that he would have mercy and deliver me.” Rather than, “Look at the perfection I have so far attained!”

            Something else notable within Mr. Owen’s text is this: “sin is never less quiet than when it seems to be most quiet.” When I read this, it held very true with me. Rarely can I think of a time when I felt most “free from sin,” that was not almost immediately followed by an onslaught of failure in sin. Now, the works of this, I don’t think I fully understand. Perhaps it’s the pride that wells up in me when I consider my new level of “perfection.” I’m not too sure; this makes me feel that when I am tempted to let my guard down against sin, this is when I ought to most diligently be wielding my sword.

 

            It’s not too late to join in the fun. Go here and buy this book. Then, go to challies.com, and read this.

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