July 9, 2007

Are You Mortifying Sin Today?

Without a doubt, John Owen's, "Mortification of Sin," ought to be read, and re-read, and re-read again. You do have it, don't you? I mean, please ... you must! I'm reading it through with a couple of guys, one with whom I meet weekly for breakfast, another in the San Diego area, and I'm just now sending it to a third guy in Virginia (maybe we really should form an online reading group through this blog). In this little paperback, as Banner of Truth publishes it, Owen states why he's writing this, "My primary reason is the obvious difficulty that most professing Christians have in dealing with the temptations that surround them" and therefore he seeks "to press on men's consciences the need to consider their ways, and to give believers clearer directions on how to proceed in the mortification of sin." Ah, that's the key. Not only to get us to "consider our ways," but Owen really does "give believers clearer directions on how" to do it! OK, so go ahead and try to convince me that you don't need to read this book!
You should see my copy! It's underlined, circled, highlighted, scribbled in, etc. Perhaps that reveals too much about myself to you, that I truly am a fellow-struggler in need of daily sin mortification. But let me share with you just two of my circled and highlighted sections from this book.
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From the beginning:
"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 a 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!"
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And another quote, from the chapter titled, "Seeing Sin For What It Really Is," where Owen outlines just some of the "dangers" of unmortified sin in our lives, this one being "Coming Under a Great Chastisement"!
"Is it nothing to you that God should kill your child in anger, ruin your estate in anger, break your bones in anger, suffer you to be a scandal and reproach in anger, kill you, destroy you, make you lie down in darkness in anger? Is this nothing to you, that He might punish, ruin, and undo others because of your sin?
"Let me not be mistaken. I do not mean that God always sends all these things on His children in anger; God forbid! But this I will say, when He does deal with you in such a way, and your conscience bears witness with Him that you have provoked His judgment, you will find that His dealings will be full of bitterness to your soul. If you do not fear these things, I fear you have been hardened by sin."
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I tell you, if you do not have this book, get it now, and join me and Kirk and Paul and Mark as we read it through and deal with its message together.
From Atlanta ... Grace and peace ... Steve

7 comments:

Josh Gelatt said...

If you form an online reading group for the book, I'm in!

Steve Burlew said...

Hey, Josh. Wow, you're tempting me. Have you (or anyone else) seen anything like that work before, or been a part of one?

Josh Gelatt said...

On a blog? I guess not...but as I don't get many other 'reading buddies' in my neck of the woods I'm open to anything (pastoring in rural america can get intellectually and spiritually lonely...LOL)

TimBix said...

I heard that Banner recently came out with a new update of Owen's book. Is that true? If so, which do you recommend?

Steve Burlew said...

Tim - Sorry for not getting to your question sooner. A new update of what book by Owen? Mortification of Sin? Hmmmm. You might be thinking of a different one, that Justin Taylor and Kelly Kapic edited. Yes? Banner of Truth's, "Mortification of Sin," is an abridged version of Owen's work that has also been made a bit easier to read than some might find Owen. Either way, the message Owen is communicating is vital so however we "get it" works for me!

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