Mortification of Sin Chapter 1 – Part 1

John OwenDid I mention that Owen is hard to read?  Well, in all actuality, he is very easy to read, but to understand, that is a much different thing.  After reading, re-reading and then reading again, quite a few times, I feel like my head is about to explode.  I can remember back in the early 1990’s getting my hands on a copy of A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking.  That was  my first experience reading something that literally made me feel like my mind had grown 3 sizes.  The thoughts, the concepts, the ideas that Hawking presented gave me new insight into time and space like I had never thought of before.  Likewise, Owen is a giant in the Theological world.  The only problem is that he is a giant from another planet.  I keep looking for the Rosetta Stone so I can better make sense of what Owen is saying.  So, it seemed best to me to take up reading chapter 1 multiple times, spending much time in prayer, as well as reading others views (here, here and here) on what he had written, then go through the process again and just meditate on what he is conveying.

Let me say that even though we are saved by grace alone, by faith alone, in Christ alone, mortification is not an option that we can decide to take or leave.  Paul makes it abundantly clear that it is a required thing in the Christian life in Romans 8:13.  Ahhhhh, the tension, can’t you just feel it?

“But sir,” I hear you say, “We live under grace and Christ said ‘It is finished,’ (John 19:30).  So hasn’t he done everything that needed to be done to secure the believers salvation?”

“Why yes, yes He has,” I would reply.

“Well then, sir, if we do something, isn’t that adding to the work of Christ?  Isn’t that adding our works to the work of Christ which would mean that what Christ did is incomplete?”

Again I would have to respond, “Yes it would.”

TENSION!  Don’t you just love it?

So how are we to deal with this?  Lets turn to the 5 issues that Owen brings up in chapter 1:

  1. A duty prescribed, “Mortify the deeds of the body.”
  2. The persons to whom the duty is prescribed, “If you mortify.”
  3. The promise or reward attached to the duty, “You shall live.”
  4. What is the cause or means of the performance of this duty, “If you through the Spirit.”
  5. The promise attached to those who endeavor to put to death the deeds of the body, “Life.”

Once Owen calls out these 5 points, he then turns to the the condition of, “But if…”  As Romans 8:13 declares, “For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.”  This brings up two things, an uncertain condition and an absolutely certain condition.  As someone who cannot stand heights, I could climb a tall building and look out from the observation deck and say, “If I get down off of this building, I will never put myself in a position like that again.”  Now, that may or may not be true.  It could come to a point in the future were I do the same thing again, or not.  Owen, expounding on Romans 8:13, is not saying it could or could not happen.

What Owen says is something more along the lines of this, “Oh, you are allergic to bee stings, use this Epi-pen and the swelling you are experiencing will go away and you WILL be well.” It is an absolute certainty that if you “put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.”

Now, lets deal with that tension.  Romans 6:23 tells us, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:1 also tells us that “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” So how do we square this “free gift” and “no condemnation” issue?  Owen states that God has appointed ‘means’ to attain this mortification.  The free gift of eternal life is absolutely freely given.  We begin to pursue the mortification of the deeds of the body, “by the Spirit.” The gift of eternal life is free, and the Holy Spirit,which is given to us when we are saved, is the means by which we obtain the mortification of the deeds of the body.

Owen the goes on to state:

“The choicest believers, who are assuredly freed from the condemning power of sin, ought yet to make it their business all their days to mortify the indwelling power of sin.”

This is a life long battle.  One that will go on every day of our life.  This is something we do, something we fight, something we endure and struggle with every second we live as a Christian.  But the blessed hope, the good news, the confident joy we can look to and claim is that “if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.”  This life is not an existence like we now have and comprehend.  This is life eternal, life free from the struggle we now fight against.  An existence, a freedom that we will never even remotely understand or imagine until “that” day, the day when we are glorified.  Sin has so clouded, shaped and warped our bodies, our minds, that even C. S. Lewis’ quote about the “…ignorant child making mud pies in the slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea,” does not even scratch the surface of the gulf that the bondage of sin has created in us compared to the freedom that will be experienced by a Christians when we are transformed.

Oh, we don’t want to hear the word, “strive,” yet me must.  By the power of the Holy Spirit, we must strive every second of our Christian existence to mortify the deeds of the body and become more Christlike.  As Paul says, “And I am sure of this, that he (God the Father) who began a good work in you will bring it to completion (by the Holy Spirit) at the day of Jesus Christ.” It will be done.

As always, please feel free to comment, critique, question, and voice cares or concerns.

Until next time:

“Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.”

 

 

1st Thessalonians – The Current Series at LSBC

Pastor Jeremiah Blasi has started preaching through the book of 1st Thessalonians at Lawrence Street Baptist Church and here are the first two sermons:

Romans 11:36

For from him and through him and to him are all things.  To Him be glory forever, Amen” (ESV).

I have had this verse of scripture on my mind for the past few weeks. In God’s amazing providence, this passage of scripture has turned up in several books that I have been reading, in blog posts that I have “happened” across, and in my own reading of the Bible.  After the 3rd or 4th time coming across this passage, the thought hit me that ‘maybe this is important’ so I started thinking about it and then searching out commentary on it.  While I realize the the Apostle Paul wrote much of the New Testament, but, I’m inclined to think that this verse, this one sentence, these 18 words, or 66 letters, is the most important thing Paul ever wrote!  It puts the entire focus of what Paul had written in the book of Romans to this point on God, and God alone.  What grander focus could there ever be?

I want to share two sermons based on Romans 11:36 that have blessed me tremendously.  One is from our own time and one is from 150 years ago.  One is in video format and one is written, but both should cause our minds to soar to new heights and depths of thoughts of the grandeur of God.

All Things Are from God, Through God, and to God. The Glory Is All His

John Piper concludes this video message with the following 5 questions:

Do you love the thought that you exist to make God look glorious?

Do you love the thought that all creation exists to display the glory of God?

Do you love the truth that all of history is designed by God to one day be a completed canvas that displays in the best way possible the greatness and beauty of God?

Do you love the fact that Jesus Christ came into the world to vindicate the righteousness of God and repair the injury that we had done to the reputation of the glory of God?

Do you love the truth you personally exist to make God look like what he really is—glorious?

My heart and mind want to cry out with Paul, “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!  How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!” (Romans 11:33).

Laus Deo

DELIVERED ON SUNDAY MORNING, MAY 29, 1864,

BY THE REV. C. H. SPURGEON,

AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.

MY text consists almost entirely of monosyllables, but it contains the loftiest of sublimities. Such a tremendous weight of meaning is concentrated here, that an archangel’s eloquence would fail to convey its teaching in all its Glory to any finite minds, even if seraphs were his hearers! I will affirm that there is no man living who can preach from my text a sermon worthy of it; no, that among all the sacred orators, and the eloquent pleaders for God, there never did live and never will live, a man capable of reaching the height of the great argument contained in these few simple words. I utterly despair of success and will not, therefore, make an attempt to work out the Infinite Glory of this sentence. Our great God alone can expound this verse, for He only knows Himself, and He only can worthily set forth His own perfections. Yet I am comforted by this reflection, that maybe, in answer to our prayers, God Himself may preach from this text this morning in our hearts! If not through the words of the speaker, yet by that still small voice to which the Believer’s ear is so well accustomed. If thus He shall condescend to favor us, our hearts shall be lifted up in His ways!

Read the rest of this sermon here.

My prayer is that these two sermons would cause you to think of God differently.  Why did God create the world?  To shine forth His Glory.  He did not create this world to make much of mankind, which, for the most part, is a foreign thought to many Christians, not to mention those who are not Christians.  God created this world to make much of His glory, splendor and majesty.  Those of us who are truly His should live in in the light of this fact and constantly ask ourselves, “Do you love the thought that you exist to make God look glorious?”

To Him be glory forever, Amen!

 

 

 

Gospel-Shaped Affections: Rejoicing In The Lord Always

I listened to this sermon by Mike Riccardi on my way to work yesterday.  It is an outstanding sermon on joy and the fact that we are commanded to rejoice in the Lord.  You can either listen to it or read the transcript below.

Introduction

Mike2We return again this morning to the fourth chapter of Paul’s letter to the Philippians: Philippians chapter 4. And we find ourselves in the middle of a collection of Paul’s concluding exhortations—a set of rapid-fire commands to the saints at the church of Philippi. And what unites those commands thematically is that they are the means of achieving the spiritual stability that Paul has called them to in chapter 4 verse 1. As a conclusion to all he’s warned them about in chapter 3—the legalism of the Judaizers, the error of the perfectionists, and the sensuality of the antinomians—and especially in light of their present citizenship in heaven and their glorious future at Christ’s return, Paul culminates in chapter 4 verse 1: “Therefore, my beloved brethren whom I long to see, my joy and crown, in this way stand firm in the Lord, my beloved.”

And if we are in a right spirit here this morning, the prospect of spiritual stability is attractive to us. Those of us who belong to Christ and who are rightly related to Him deeply desire to be consistently growing into greater spiritual maturity. We want to be spiritually stable—the kind of enduring, unwavering, uncompromising people that are faithful to the Lord and His Word even in the midst of great opposition. We don’t want to be the kind of people who are characterized by instability, whose Christian life is littered with fits and starts and highs and lows and peaks and valleys. Now, it’s true that, given the principle of indwelling sin, some degree of that is unavoidable. But as much as we can, we’d like to avoid that. By the grace of God we want to be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord (1 Cor 15:58). We want to stand firm.

And so the important question, then, is, “By what means can I attain that spiritual stability? How can I make this holy aspiration a reality in my life?” Well it’s just that question that Paul answers in this Continue reading

Develop a good theological perspective, it is important to know the whole of the Bible and what God is doing.

Frontline Apologetics

SAM_0515

Theology as it is stated in most secular dictionaries is defined as the study of the nature of God and religious belief. We should start by expressing our total and complete dedication to the God of Christianity as it is revealed to us in the Bible. Although a dictionary, secular or religious, may be helpful it is not objective in the sense that it doesn’t always presuppose the God of the Bible or exegetically utilize the God of Scripture. So, theology should be recognized as Biblical Christian theology. The study of the Triune God of Christianity as revealed to us in His Word. Therefore, our first responsibility to a  proper perspective of  theology should be to begin with an objective understanding of what theology is from the objective source.

Now, God has created all things and therefore it is necessary that in order to make proper sense of anything we…

View original post 701 more words

Prayer – Part 2

In this second installment of Pink’s book Gleanings From Paul:  A Study of the Prayers of the Apostle, Pink takes us to Paul’s prayer in the first chapter of Romans.  I have read Romans multiple times but never really considered this a prayer, but after reading the following I do believe it is.  What I found amazing, and again I have read Romans multiple times in just the last year, is Paul’s calling out to “My God.”  As Pink brings out, there is a sense of Paul’s certainty in God, in his intimacy with God.  I have overlooked that many times in my life. 

Well, what I really mean to say is that I seem to easily forget how intimately we can have fellowship with God.  How many times have I started to pray and in my mind, God is just some impersonal being “out there” that I am praying too.  That is a sad indictment against me and I realize that I have to repent and make a concerted effort to realize that the God I am praying too is “My God” just like He was Paul’s “God.”  In Zechariah 1:3 God declares, “Return to me that I may return to you,” (NASB).  That is a very emphatic statement, and one that we would do well to remember and to practice.  If we turn to God in repentence for our sins, it’s as if He cannot help but come near and cleanse us, soothe us and comfort us.

Gleanings From Paul

 1. Prayer and Praise

 Romans 1:8-12

As For Paul’s Prayers we shall not take them up in their chronological order but according as they are found in his epistles in our present-day Bible. The Thessalonian epistles were written before the Roman letter, but as the book of Romans, because of its theme and importance, rightly comes first, we shall begin with Paul’s prayers recorded therein. Opinion is divided as to whether the verses before us chronicle a particular prayer actually offered by Paul at that time, or whether he is here informing them how he was wont to remember them at the throne of grace. It appears to us the distinction is such a fine one that it makes little practical difference which view be adopted. Personally we incline to the former concept. This epistle was taken down by an amanuensis (Rom. 16:22), and as the apostle dictated the words “to all that be in Rome, beloved of God” (Rom. 1:7), his heart was immediately drawn out in thanksgiving that some of God’s elect were to be found even in the capital of the Roman Empire, yea, in “Caesar’s household” (Phil. 4:22).

Paul’s Affection for the Saints at Rome

The position of Paul was somewhat delicate, as he was a stranger to the saints at Rome. No doubt they had often heard of him——at first as a dangerous person. When assured of his conversion, and learning that he was an apostle to the Gentiles, they probably wondered why he had not visited them, especially when he had been as near Rome as Corinth. So he made known his deep personal interest in them. They were continually upon his heart and in all his prayers. How his “I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all” (Rom. l:8a) would draw out their affections to the writer of this epistle! How it would move them to read with warmer interest what he had sent to them! Nothing more Continue reading