Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Mortification of Sin in Believers - Chapter 10 Summary

In Chapter X of The Mortification of Sin in Believers author John Owen continues with his 'directions' concerning practical considerations in the mortification of sin. Chapter IX contained his first direction whereas Chapter X is concerned with his second direction which is:
Get a clear and abiding sense upon thy mind and conscience of the guilt, danger, and evil of that sin wherewith thou are perplexed.
Concerning the his admonition to "get a clear sense" of the guilt of one's sin he writes, "Innumerable ways there are whereby sin diverts the mind from a right and due apprehension of its guilt. Its noisome exhalations darken the mind, that it cannot make a right judgment of things. Perplexing reasonings, extenuating promises, tumultuating desires, treacherous purposes of relinquishment, hopes of mercy, all have their share in disturbing the mind in its consideration of the guilt of a prevailing lust." Owens sense of the value of guilt is not one I have been taught in my walk of faith. It is something I need to study and understand more.

To this seeking of a clear sense of guilt, Owen adds some considerations. First, Owen suggests that the fact that we have grace in our lives points to the fact the abiding sin should and does increase and aggravate our guilt.

Second, Owen wants the reader to consider that though God sees more excellency in the motives of the heart and the actions of His servants, He also suggests God also sees "a great deal of evil in the working of lust in their hearts, yea, and more than in the open, notorious acts of wicked men, or in many outward sins whereinto the saints may fall, seeing against them there is more opposition made, and more humiliation generally follows them."

His next point is in regards to getting a clear sense of the danger of the sin in our hearts. The danger lies in 4 areas:
  1. The danger of being hardened by its deceitfulness. "Sin will grow a light thing to thee; thou wilt pass it by as a thing of nought; this it will grow to."
  2. The danger of a great temporal correction from God because of it. "I do not mean that God doth send all these things always on his in anger; God forbid! but this I say, that when he doth so deal with thee, and thy conscience bears witness with him what thy provocations have been, thou wilt find his dealings full of bitterness to thy soul."
  3. The danger of loss of peace and strength. "If ever, then, thou hast enjoyed peace with God, if ever his terrors have made thee afraid, if ever thou hast had strength to walk with him, or ever hast mourned in thy prayer, and been troubled because of thy weakness, think of this danger that hangs over thy head. It is perhaps but a little while and thou shalt see the face of God in peace no more. Perhaps by to-morrow thou shalt not be able to pray, read, hear, or perform any duties with the least cheerfulness, life, or vigour; and thou mayst carry about thee broken bones, full of pain and terror, all the days of thy life."
  4. The danger of eternal destruction. "[1.] That there is such a between a connection between a continuance in sin and eternal destruction, that though God does resolve to deliver some from a continuance in sin that they may not be destroyed, yet he will deliver none from destruction that continue in sin; so that whilst any one lies under an abiding power of sin, the threats of destruction and everlasting separation from God are to be held out to him. [2.] That he who is so entangled, as above described, under the power of any corruption, can have at that present no clear prevailing evidence of his interest in the covenant, by the efficacy whereof he may be delivered from fear of destruction; so that destruction from the Lord may justly be a terror to him; and he may, he ought to look upon it, as that which will be the end of his course and ways."
Finally, Owen implores the reader to consider the evils of indwelling sin in the heart. In this, Owen stresses 3 things:
  1. It grieves the holy and blessed Spirit, which is given to believers to dwell in them and abide with them.
  2. The Lord Jesus Christ is wounded afresh by it; his new creature in the heart is wounded; his love is foiled; his adversary gratified.
  3. It will take away a man's usefulness in his generation.

This chapter is a difficult one for me. I certainly do not take my sin into account the way Owen suggests we ought to. As a matter of fact, much of the teaching I have received is contrary to what Owen teaches here. I have much to learn in this area and this study on mortification is helping significantly. Owen sums up this chapter with these words,
This, then, is my second direction, and it regards the opposition that is to be made to lust in respect of its habitual residence in the soul :-- Keep alive upon thy heart these or the like considerations of its guilt, danger, and evil; be much in the meditation of these things; cause thy heart to dwell and abide upon them; engage thy thoughts into these considerations; let them not go off nor wander from them until they begin to have a powerful influence upon thy soul, -- until they make it to tremble.

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