Thursday, June 19, 2008

Coming Soon to a Court Near You

Court overturns father's grounding of a 12 year old girl.

I would laugh if it wasn't so sad. Once again we see that parents are considered incapable of raising their children. The courts know best, and the average guy wanting to protect his child is stripped of his parental authority.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Mortification of Sin - Chapter Ten

Seeing Sin for What It Is

After addressing the guilt and the danger of sin, Owen speaks of the present evil on pages 73-75:

Consider the present evils of it. Here are some of the many evils that attend unmortified lust:

i. It grieves the holy and blessed Spirit, Who is given to believers to dwell in them and abide with them.

ii. The Lord Jesus Christ is wounded afresh by it. His new creation in the heart is wounded; his love is foiled, His adversary is gratified.

iii. It will take away a man's usefulness in his generation.

Thus, we must keep in mind the danger of such lust. We must keep alive in our hearts the guilt, danger and evil of it. We should be much in the meditation of these things, and cause the heart and mind to dwell on them. We should engage our thoughts in these considerations. We should not let them go from us until they have a powerful influence upon our souls, and make us tremble.

Mortification of Sin - Chapter Nine

The Dangerous Symptoms of Sin

1. Firm establishment over a long period of time and settlement as a habitual practice. If a sin has been corrupting your heart for a long time, and you have allowed it to prevail and abide in power, without vigorously attempting to kill it, and heal the wounds that it causes, this is a serious condition. (pgs. 54-55)

2. Another dangerous symptom is when the beast pleads to be thought in a good state, yet all the while allows the continuance of a lust without any attempt at its mortification. (pg. 56)

3. A third dangerous symptom is when sin frequently succeeds in obtaining the consent of the will. When the will finds delight in a sin, even though it is not outwardly performed, the temptation is successful. (pg. 58)

4. A fourth dangerous symptom is when a man fights against a sin only because of the consequences or penalty of that sin. (pg. 59)

5. A fifth dangerous symptom is when it is probable that trouble over a sin or lust is a punishment from God. I am sure God sometimes leaves even His own children for former sins. 'O Lord, why do you make us wander from your ways and harden our heart, so that we fear you not?' (Isa. 63;17). No one would question that God deals with unregenerate men in this way, but how can a saved man know that there is the chastening hand of God behind his troubled heart? (pg. 61) (Please note that this is a difficult section, requiring another full page of explanation from Owen, at the end of which I still have questions.)

6. A sixth dangerous symptom is when your lust has already withstood particular dealings from God against it. This is described in Isaiah 57:17: 'Because of the iniquity of his unjust gain I was angry. I struck him; I hid my face and was angry, but he went on backsliding in the way of his own heart.' (pg. 62) (Another difficult section, and I am not yet sure if I fully understand what Owen intends his readers to understand. However, I do understand fully the next statements that I list below.)

These six symptoms, and others with them, show a lust to be very dangerous, if not deadly. (pg. 63)

Before I proceed, I must give you one caution so that you will not be misled by what has been said so far. The evils mentioned may ensnare true believers, but do not conclude that because you experience these you are a true believer. These things may ensnare a believer, but they are not marks of a believer. A man might conclude, with equal show of reasoning, that he is a believer because he is an adulterer, since David fell into adultery. It is wrong to reason that you are a believer because you experience the struggles against sin that a believer also might. If you are looking for evidences of being a believer, look for those evidences that constitute a believer. Anyone who has these serious symptoms may safely conclude, 'If I am a believer, I am a most miserable one.' If such a man is seeking assurance, he needs to look for other evidences in order to have true peace. (pgs. 63-64)

Mortification of Sin - Chapter Eight

God Requires Universal Obedience

You cannot mortify a specific lust that is troubling you, unless you are seeking to obey the Lord from the heart in all areas! (pg. 49)

If we will do anything, we must do everything. So then, our need is not only an intense opposition to this or that particular lust, but a universal humble frame and temper of heart that watches over every evil, and seeks the performance of every duty that is pleasing to God. (pg. 51)

He who truly and thoroughly seeks to mortify any disquieting lust, must be equally diligent in all parts of obedience. We must see that every lust and every omission of duty is a burden to God. If we do not seek to obey in every area of our lives, our soul becomes weak. If we seek only to have victory over the sin that troubles us, and do not consider the filth and guilt of it, we are selfish and offer a constant provocation to God. There will not be any positive outcome to the spiritual duties we undertake, and we will not gain the victory over this great lust, if we do not seek universal obedience. (pg. 53)

Mortification of Sin - Chapter Seven

Once again, I have been deficient in keeping this blog updated. Hopefully I will rectify this situation in the next few minutes.

Only Believers Can Mortify Sin

Unless a man is a true believer, and grafted into Christ, he can never mortify a single sin. Mortification is the work of believers: 'If by the Spirit you...' (Rom. 8:13), that is, you believers, to whom there is no condemnation, (verse 1). Only believers are exhorted to mortification: 'Put to death therefore what is earthly in you' (Col. 3:5). Who should mortify? You who 'have been raised with Christ' (verse 1), and whose 'life is hidden with Christ in God', who also will 'appear with him in glory' (verse 4). (pg. 40)

We must let men know that mortification is their duty, but in its proper place; I do not encourage men to come away from mortification, but to come to conversion. He that shall call a man from mending a hole in the wall of his house, to quench a fire that is consuming the whole building, is not his enemy. Poor soul! It is not your sore finger but your great fever you need to notice. You set yourself against a particular sin, and do not realize that you are nothing but sin. (pgs. 46-47)

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Mortification of Sin - Chapter Six

Chapter Six - What Mortification Is

The mortification of a lust consists in three things:

1. A habitual weakening of the lust. (pg. 32)

2. A constant fight and contention against sin. (pg. 36)

3. A degree of success in the battle. ( pg. 38)

Mortification of Sin - Chapter Five

Chapter Five - What Mortification Is Not

To mortify a sin is not to utterly root it out and destroy it, that it should have no more hold at all nor residence in our hearts. It is true that this is what we aim at, but we will not be able to accomplish it in his life. All who seek mortification seek utter destruction, both of its fruit and its root in the heart and life. They seek to kill it, so that it will never move nor stir any more, nor cry, call, seduce, or tempt, to all eternity. We aim at the total destruction of the sin, so that it does not exist.
There may doubtless be times of wonderful success by the Spirit, and grace of Christ, and such a great victory that a man may have almost constant triumph over it; but the utter killing and destruction of it, we cannot expect in this life. Paul, who was a choice saint and a pattern for believers in faith, love, and all the fruits of the Spirit, who had no equal in the world, himself said: 'Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect' (Phil. 3:12).
He still had a lowly body as we have, which must be changed by the great power of Christ at last. We are complete only in Christ, not in ourselves (Col. 2:10). (pgs. 26-27)

Mortification of Sin - Chapter Four

Chapter Four - How Life and Comfort Depend on Mortification

I do not say they proceed from it, as though they were necessarily tied to it. A man may be carried on in a constant course of mortification all his days, and yet perhaps never enjoy a good day of peace and consolation. So it was with Heman in Psalm 88. His life was a life of perpetual mortification and walking with God, yet terrors and wounds were his portion all his days.

But God singled out Heman, a choice friend, to make him an example to those who afterwards should be in distress. Can we complain if it is with us as it was with heman, that eminent servant of God? This shall be his praise to the end of the world. God makes it His prerogative to speak peace and consolation. 'I will do that work', says God, 'I will comfort him' (see Isa. 57:18-19). But how? By an immediate work of the new creation: 'I create it', says God. The use of means for the obtaining of peace is ours. the bestowing of it is God's prerogative. (pgs. 21-22)

Mortification of Sin - Chapter Three

Life has been hectic, and while I have had no problem keeping up with my reading, I have found very little time to blog my observations. As a result, this and the next couple of posts will consist of highlights drawn from John Owen's The Mortification of Sin.

Chapter Three - The Work of the Spirit in Mortification

How does the Spirit mortify sin?

i. By causing our hearts to abound in grace and the fruits that are contrary to the works of the flesh.

ii. By the effective destruction of the root and habit of sin, to weaken, destroy, and take it away.

iii. He brings the cross of Christ into the heart of a sinner by faith, and gives communion with Christ in His death, and fellowship in His sufferings. (pgs. 17-19)

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Mortification of Sin - Chapter Two

...always be killing sin, or it will be killing you. (pg. 5)

You really, really need to read this entire chapter, as does every Christian. I will, however, excerpt a couple of important sections:

Indwelling sin always abides while we are in this world; therefore, there is always a need for it to be mortified. Some have wrongly and foolishly believed that we are able in this life to keep the commands of God perfectly and are wholly and perfectly dead to sin. Through ignorance of the true live in Christ and His power in believers, they have invented a new righteousness that is not in the gospel. They are vainly puffed up by their fleshly minds. Indwelling sin continues to live in believers in some measure and degree while we are in this world. ((pg. 6)

Before proceeding, I cannot but note that even though there is in this generation a growing number of professors, a great noise of religion, religious duties in every corner, and preaching in abundance, there is little evidence of the fruit of true mortification. Perhaps we might find that, judging by the principle of mortification the number of true believers is not as multiplied as it appears from those who have made a mere profession. Some speak and profess a spirituality that far exceeds the former days, but their lives give evidence of a miserable unmortified heart. If vain spending of time, idleness, envy, strife, variance, emulations, wrath, pride, worldliness, selfishness (1 Cor 1.) are the mark of Christians, we have them among us in abundance. May the good Lord send us a spirit of mortification to cure our distempers, or we will be in a sad condition! (pg. 11)

Fellow Southern Baptists, please keep the preceding paragraph in mind as you participate in the convention in Indianapolis, especially as you vote on Tom Ascol's resolution on regenerate church membership. Can we really claim to have "umpty-ump millions" of members when we don't even know where the majority of them are?

Is it any wonder that lost people want nothing to do with Christ, His church, and his followers when the following is true?

Others are hardened in their own sin by persuading themselves that they are in just as good a condition as the unmortified professor. They see their zeal for religion, but it is not accompanied with righteousness. They view their worldly and selfish lives. They see them talk spiritually but live vainly. they hear them mention communion with God, and yet they are in every way conformed to the world. They see them boast of forgiveness of sins, and yet never forgive others. Thus, as they see the stain of sin in the unmortified professor, they harden their own hearts in their unregeneracy. (pg. 13)

...always be killing sin, or it will be killing you. And, it appears, others as well.

Mortification of Sin - Chapter One

From page 1:

If by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. (Rom 8:13)

This is the main text and foundation upon which this discourse is based. In this text we find:

1) To whom it is directed: 'You believers.'
2) The condition: 'If you.'
3) The means of accomplishment: 'The Spirit.'
4) A duty: 'Put to death the deeds of the body.'
5) A promise: 'You will live.'

Owen is often considered hard to read, but this Puritan Paperback has been Abridged and made easy to read by Richard Rushing. Yet, as can be seen from the section above, there is still plenty of meat to chew on in this abridgement.

Mortification of Sin - Introduction

Today's post is the introduction to John Owen's The Mortification of Sin, which is the June selection in The Puritan Reading Challenge. Please note that even though you might only now be learning of this challenge that it is not too late to dive in. June is an especially good month, since this abridged version of Owen's classic is less than 130 pages, and even if you were to order the book today you should have it in plenty of time to complete it this month.

John Owen (1616-1683), is one of the best known of the English Puritan divines, and one of the most prolific. No stranger to suffering, he knew both the challenge of losing position and fortune during the religious upheavals of 17th century England as well as the death of all 11 of his children, 10 of them in infancy. Privileged to preach in high places, including Parliament, as well as low; he also served as Oliver Cromwell's chaplain in Ireland.

John Piper describes Owen's conversion
as follows:

When Owen was 26 years old he went with his cousin to hear the famous Presbyterian, Edmund Calamy at St. Mary's Church Aldermanbury. But it turned out Calamy could not preach and a country preacher took his place. Owen's cousin wanted to leave. But something held Owen to his seat. The simple preacher took as his text Matthew 8:26, "Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?" It was God's appointed word and appointed time for Owen's awakening. His doubts and fears and worries as to whether he was truly born anew by the Holy Spirit were gone. He felt himself liberated and adopted as a Son of God. When you read the penetrating practical works of Owen on the work of the Spirit and the nature of true communion with God it is hard to doubt the reality of what God did on this Sunday in 1642.

No stranger to controversy, Owen appears to defend truth against all challenges, whether coming from friend or foe. As the premier pastor/theologian of Puritanism, the movement was almost at an end at the time of his death.

A good source for all things Owen is