Tuesday, June 17, 2008

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)

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