Sunday, April 11, 2010

Mortification of Sin in Believers - Chapter 12 Summary


The eighth direction which John Owen gives the reader for the mortification of a sin is "Use and exercise thyself to such meditations as may serve to fill thee at all times with self-abasement and thoughts of thine own vileness." He proceeds to explain how one might do this through the rest of the chapter.

1. Be much in thoughtfulness of the excellency of the majesty of God and thine infinite, inconceivable distance from him.
Many thoughts of it cannot but fill thee with a sense of thine own vileness, which strikes deep at the root of any indwelling sin ... Be much in thoughts of this nature, to abase the pride of thy heart, and to keep thy soul humble within thee. There is nothing will render thee a greater indisposition to be imposed on by the deceits of sin than such a frame of heart. Think greatly of the greatness of God.

2. Think much of thine unacquaintedness with him.
Though thou knowest enough to keep thee low and humble, yet how little a portion is it that thou knowest of him ... Labour with this also to take down the pride of thy heart. What dost thou know of God? How little a portion is it! How immense is he in his nature! Canst thou look without terror into the abyss of eternity? Thou canst not bear the rays of his glorious being.

Owen continues throughout most of the chapter on the theme of 'how little we really know' God. His purpose in this is primarily to exalt God and humble human beings. That being said, near the end of the chapter he realizes that this lack of acquaintedness we have with God may lead one to suggest that we are not responsible for our actions due to this distance from Him.

To this, Owen retorts,
The truth is, we all of know enough of him to love him more than we do, to delight in him and serve him, believe him, obey him, put our trust in him, above all that we have hitherto attained. Our darkness and weakness is no plea for our negligence and disobedience. Who is it that hath walked up to the knowledge that he hath had of the perfections, excellencies, and will of God? God's end in giving us any knowledge of himself here is that we may "glorify him as God;" that is, love him, serve him, believe and obey him, -- give him all the honour and glory that is due from poor sinful creatures to a sin-pardoning God and Creator. We must all acknowledge that we were never thoroughly transformed into the image of that knowledge which we have had. And had we used our talents well, we might have been trusted with more.

He also adds,
Comparatively, that knowledge which we have of God by the revelation of Jesus Christ in the gospel is exceeding eminent and glorious. It is so in comparison of any knowledge of God that might otherwise be attained, or was delivered in the law under the Old Testament, which had but the shadow of good things, not the express image of them; this the apostle pursues at large, 2 Cor. 3. Christ hath now in these last days revealed the Father from his own bosom, declared his name, made known his mind, will, and counsel in a far more clear, eminent, distinct manner than he did formerly, whilst he for the most part, is intended in the places before mentioned. The clear, perspicuous delivery and declaration of God and his will in the gospel is expressly exalted in comparison of any other way of revelation of himself.

Finally, I enjoyed this quote from the chapter,
The excellency of a believer is, not that he hath a large apprehension of things, but that what he doth apprehend, which perhaps may be very little, he sees it in the light of the Spirit of God, in a saving, soul-transforming light; and this is that which gives us communion with God, and not prying thoughts or curious-raised notions.

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