Posted by: William | February 1, 2008

Mortification of Sin: Chapter 11

This week in The Mortification of Sin in Believers by John Owen, we continue in practical applications.

Owen in this chapter moves to such particulars in our fight against sin that I believe many would find offensive. “Tell your conscience that it cannot manage any evidence to purpose that you are free from the condemning power of sin, while your unmortified lust lies in your heart,” writes Owen. While the statement seems harsh, I agree with him. When continuing carelessly and willfully in sin, how can we be sure we hold the freedom we attest to? Because of a declaration we made at some time? I don’t think that’s good enough. Perhaps, the willful advance into sin is symptom enough to suggest that you don’t have that freedom. For me, this is somewhat scary. However, if I examine my heart in that fear I find that it is not so much a fear of losing faith as it is a fear of losing sin. It is more comfortable to cling to a declaration than to the cross. One demands mortification, the other quietly allows fornication.

One thing this chapter put into my mind was idea of licentious use of Christ’s freedom. Although few will admit that they’ve held Christ’s freedom as a license to sin I think that to examine our actions we might find things otherwise. I can recall easing my conscience with the notion that I am no longer under the law, but under grace; by quieting my conscience which would lead me to mortify the sin, I would effectively walk into more sin. Hence I have used the freedom to subtly permit my sin.

“Consider the infinite patience and forbearance of God toward you in particular.” Owen also exhorts us to remember that every moment wrath is not poured out on us is mercy from God. He could easily have made us a “shame and reproach in this world, and an object of wrath forever” writes Owen. When contending with our sin, we should remember this; perhaps God will not withhold is wrath forever.

Some of Owen’s points in this chapter I had difficulty swallowing. It is possible that they are simply more harsh and challenging than I am used to, or it is also possible that they strike the hidden pride in my heart in such a way that it is uncomfortable for me to dwell on them. Whatever the reason, there is great insight that should carefully be prayed over and considered.

Jesus, I pray that you would sanctify me by your Spirit. I pray that you would sanctify your church. Jesus, for you glory, give us the strength to stand up, even in a world and flesh filled with sin that would destroy us.

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