Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Mortification of Sin in Believers - Chapter 14 Summary

The final chapter of The Mortification of Sin in the Believer begins with Owen declaring that the previous chapter's directions are only preparatory work in mortification. "Now, the considerations which I have hitherto insisted on are rather of things preparatory to the work aimed at then such as will it effect. It is the heart's due preparation for the work itself, without which it will not be accomplished, that hitherto I have aimed at."

For Owen, the actual means of mortification are few:
1. Set faith at work on Christ for the killing of thy sin. His blood is the great sovereign remedy for sin-sick souls. Live in this, and thou wilt die a conqueror; yea, thou wilt, through the good providence of God, live to see thy lust dead at thy feet.
2. I have only, then, to add the heads of the work of the Spirit in this business of mortification, which is so peculiarly ascribed to him.
Fortunately for the reader, Owen explains each of these two points. In regards to the first point, Owen anticipates a question from the reader, "But thou wilt say, "How shall faith act itself on Christ for this end and purpose?" " Owen's answer to this question is twofold.
(1.) By faith fill thy soul with a due consideration of that provision which is laid up in Jesus Christ for this end and purpose, that all thy lusts, this very lust wherewith thou art entangled, may be mortified.

(2.) Raise up thy heart by faith to an expectation of relief from Christ.

Let this, then, be fixed upon thy heart, that if thou hast not relief from him thou shalt never have any. All ways, endeavours, contendings, that are not animated by this expectation of relief from Christ and him only are to no purpose, will do thee no good; yea, if they are any thing but supportments of thy heart in this expectation, or means appointed by himself for the receiving help from him, they are in vain.

Owen encourages the reader to expect Christ to work in such a manner with the following:
(1.) Consider his mercifulness, tenderness, and kindness, as he is our great High Priest at the right hand of God.

(2.) Consider His faithfulness who hath promised; which may raise thee up and confirm thee in this waiting in an expectation of relief.

Expecting Christ to engage in such a fashion has its advantages:
[1.] It engages him to a full and speedy assistance. Nothing doth more engage the heart of a man to be useful and helpful to another than his expectation of help from him, if justly raised and countenanced by him who is to give the relief. Our Lord Jesus hath raised our hearts, by his kindness, care, and promises, to this expectation; certainly our rising up unto it must needs be a great engagement upon him to assist us accordingly.

[2.] It engages the heart to attend diligently to all the ways and means whereby Christ is wont to communicate himself to the soul; and so takes in the real assistance of all graces and ordinances whatever. He that expects any thing from a man, applies himself to the ways and means whereby it may be obtained.

Two final suggestions for point #1, "First, act faith peculiarly upon the death, blood, and cross of Christ; that is, on Christ as crucified and slain. Mortification of sin is peculiarly from the death of Christ, which shall assuredly be accomplished by it. He died to destroy the works of the devil ... Secondly, then act faith on the death of Christ, and that under these two notions, -- first, In expectation of power; secondly, In endeavours for conformity."

As to point #2, Owen emphasizes that this, mortification, is our duty and it is empowered by the Spirit.
(1.) He alone clearly and fully convinces the heart of the evil and guilt and danger of the corruption, lust, or sin to be mortified. Without this conviction, or whilst it is so faint that the heart can wrestle with it or digest it, there will be no thorough work made.
(2.) The Spirit alone reveals unto us the fullness of Christ for our relief; which is the consideration that stays the heart from false ways and from despairing despondency
(3.) The Spirit alone establishes the heart in expectation of relief from Christ; which is the great sovereign means of mortification, as hath been discovered
(4.) The Spirit alone brings the cross of Christ into our hearts with its sin-killing power; for by the Spirit are we baptized into the death of Christ
(5.) The Spirit is the author and finisher of our sanctification; gives new supplies and influences of grace for holiness and sanctification, when the contrary principle is weakened and abated
(6.) In all the soul's addresses to God in this condition, it hath supportment from the Spirit. Whence is the power, life, and vigour of prayer? whence its efficacy to prevail with God? Is it not from the Spirit?

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