This weekend I started reading Sin and Temptation by John Owen. The book open with the subject of mortifying your sins. If you don’t know what it means to mortify something don’t feel bad, I had to look it up too. It means to put something to death. So this book on Sin and Temptation was opening with the idea of putting your indwelling sins to death.
God is taking me on a journey through his scholars, C.S. Lewis, George MacDonald and now John Owen. In each of these men I have felt in my heart the truth and honesty of their reflections on God. Owen writes that “Sin aim always at the utmost; every time it rises up to tempt or entice, might it have its own course, it would go out to the utmost sin in that kind. Every unclean thought or glance would be adultery if it could; every covetous desire would be oppression, every thought of unbelief would be atheism, might it grow to its head.” WOW!
How many times have we justified a tiny sin in our own lives only to find that it grows, slower ever larger, like a cancer in our hearts? To continue with Owen, “it is modest, as it were, in its first motions and proposals, but having once got footing in the heart by them, it constantly makes good its ground, and presses on to some farther degrees in the same kind. This new acting and pressing forward makes the soul take little notice of what an entrance to a falling off from God is already made….”
Robert Deffinbaugh wrote that Satan approached Eve in the garden of Eden as a friend. He spoke to her in such a way as to convince her that he was someone who cared about her and wanted what was best for her. How often has sin come into our own lives in that way, convincing us that this is what is best for us, and we listen to that voice, instead of trusting that only God, in his infinite wisdom and love, has our best interests in mind.
I love, and at the same time, am terrified of the idea of asking God to shine his light into the deepest and darkest parts of my soul. But at the same time, I feel as if that is what God is calling me to do, as I walk this faith journey with him. John Owen calls upon the believer to mortify their sins daily. When I think about what he is calling us to do, it goes beyond confession. Confessing your sins and knowing that you are forgiven seems like the first step, and that’s where I was for a long time. But I think what John Owen is writing about, is that there is almost an acceptance of our sinful nature when all we are willing to do is confess. Growth in our spiritual life is about rooting out the sin, “pruning the branches that don’t bare fruit” so to speak. And the more I think about it, the more I have to acknowledge that this is a daily task. Opportunities for sin to gain ground happen every day.
The other thing that John Owen emphatically writes about here is that it is simply not possible for us to mortify our sins ourselves. We can only do it with the help of the Spirit. I’m looking forward to reading more about that.
I don’t want to be one of those people who stands on the side of the road, holding a sign. My purpose in writing this blog isn’t to try to convince you to be or to do something that God isn’t calling you to be or do in your heart already. This blog is about my own journey in faith and my thoughts about things the books and scriptures I read. And I say this because when people start talking about sin, its easy to tune them out. We want to read about God’s love, but when we really start getting down into the nuts and bolts of our sinful nature, many of us aren’t willing or ready to have an honest discussion. There are parts of the bible and God’s word that I’m not ready for yet, and that’s okay. We all have to take our own journey, but I’m so grateful and thankful to all of you for being a part of mine.