The Mortification of Sin

“There is nothing so rewarding as to make people realize that they are worthwhile in this world.”~~Bob Anderson

Today’s word of the day, from Merriam-Webster, is equanimity, “evenness of mind especially under stress,” or “right disposition.” Equanimity is something I don’t seem to have very often.

Today, along with being Spicy Guacamole Day, is Loosen Up, Lighten Up Day. That sounds like good advice for anyone.

Of course, the first thing on most people’s minds, this morning, is the terrible attacks on the city of Paris, France, yesterday. As the news unfolded, we were horrified to understand that Paris had undergone an attack not unlike our September 11, 2001 attacks on Manhattan and Washington, D.C.. The death toll was not as high, but that is really irrelevant to me, because it is the nature of the attacks. They appeared to be coordinated terrorist attacks in various areas of the city. Projected lives lost was, at one point, up to around 153, with dozens, if not hundreds, more injured. Facebook instantly abounded with memes calling for prayer for the city. Along with those were a few memes that attempted to turn it into a platform to proclaim political beliefs. These disgust me with an intensity for which there is no words. I call out for all people, most especially those who call themselves by the name of Jesus, to lay aside political crap and pray; pray for Paris, but also pray for this oh, so broken world in which we live.

Today being Saturday, we will do our usual grocery shopping for us and for Christi’s mom and step-dad. We don’t have much else planned for today. There’s going to have to be some house-cleaning at some point, because we are going to be bringing my mother over next weekend, for the Southlake Christmas Tree Lighting event. The Southlake Community Band will be playing a brief concert of Christmas-themed music at the event.

On this date in 1889, journalist Nellie Bly, aka Elizabeth Cochrane, began an attempt to travel around the world in less than 80 days. She completed the trip in 72 days. She made the trip, emulating the novel by Jules Verne, Around the World in Eighty Days, travelling on steamships and trains. In 1922, the BBC began radio service in the UK. In 1969, Apollo 12 was launched, being the second manned expedition to the moon.

Today’s birthdays include Leopold Mozart (Wolfgang Amadeus’s father), Johann van Beethovan (Ludwig’s father), Claude Monet (French painter), Mamie Eisenhower (First Lady), Aaron Copland (American composer), Sherwood Schwartz (American TV writer/producer), Veronica Lake (American actress), Brian Keith (American actor), Boutros Boutros-Ghali (Egyptian UN Secretary-General), McLean Stevenson (American actor), Jimmy Piersall (American baseball player), Cornell Gunter (American singer, The Coasters), Wendy Carlos (American composer, Switched On Bach), Yanni (Greek musician/composer), Condoleezza Rice (American Secretary of State), Laura San Giacomo (American actress), Patrick Warburton (American actor), Curt Schilling (American baseball player), Josh Duhamel (American actor), Travis Barker (American musician), and Vanessa Bayer (American comedian, SNL).

Patrick Warburton is an actor who also does voice characterization. My favorite role of his, so far, is Kronk, in The Emperor’s New Groove. Here is one of my favorite scenes from that movie.

Nell Gwynne, Booker T. Washington, and Saki are among notable deaths on this date.


(From Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God)

Yesterday, I looked at John Stott’s idea of confessing and forsaking sin. Today, Tim Keller briefly examine’s John Owen’s work, The Mortification of Sin. Certainly, if we desire to be children of God, we desire to please and resemble him. This means that, when we sin, we will seek opportunity to seek our Father’s pardon for that sin, for displeasing him. But we will also seek heart change so that we will not be so quick to displease him again in the future.

“Mortification” is a word that simply means to kill something, in the case of Owen’s book, we want to kill sin. We want to “weaken sin at the motivational level by meditating on God’s holiness and love in Christ, and other biblical doctrines, and then seeing our specific sin in their light.” This will make sin look unattractive to us, causing us to see the folly and evil of sin in the true light of God, and also help us to resist it, going forward.

We want to convince our hearts of the grievousness of sin, the fact that it both grieves and dishonors our Father. If we only consider the dangers of sin, confessing on that basis, our repentance is “self-oriented,” and will not be long-lasting.

In his book, Owen gives a great number of doctrines that we can think upon. “He urges us to think of the intimacy we now have with the Father and the Holy Spirit, the justice of the Law, the costly sacrifice of Christ, the glory and transcendent majesty of God, and the patience of the Lord toward us.” This is just to name a few. Please note that he does not give us a “template,” if you will, that will fit all people in the same way. This is a major fault in many of the books that we might find on the subject, as they attempt to convince us that everyone can approach sin and repentance in the same way. “If you will do such-and-such for x number of minutes every day, you will never be tempted again!” This is, to quote Cinderella’s fairy godmother, “Fol-de-rol and fiddle dee dee and fiddly faddly foddle.” Not to mention “poppycock and twoddle.” We are all different, and we must all actually WORK to find the best path of repentance for our personal sins. Therein lies the problem, I believe (and I have diverted from Keller’s book, at this point . . . this is all me). We don’t want to work at repentance. We want someone to give us an easy formula or “template” to deal with it. This formula or template simply does not exist. We must all deal with it at our own level.

Owen, however, does give us an example from his own experience. We must “learn the ways of our own hearts and . . . devise spiritual soliloquies – ways of talking or even preaching to our own hearts.” This does not consist of telling ourselves, “I must stop this or I’m going to be punished.” Once again, this makes repentance self-oriented. Rather, Owen says to himself like, “How can I treat Jesus like this – who died so I would never be punished? Is this how I treat the one who has brought me into this unconditionally loved state? Is this how I treat him after all he’s done? will I fail to forgive when he died to forgive me? Will I be anxious over the loss of money when he gave himself to be my security and true wealth? Will I nurse my pride when he emptied himself of his own glory to save me?”

We must weaken sin by the spirit of the Gospel, changing the entire person, the mind, will, and affections.

Father, I seek this change. I have been seeking this change for years, perhaps decades. I have gone through the self-oriented style of repentance for far too long. The emphasis is not on avoiding punishment, and it never should have been, because Jesus took all of the punishment for all of our sin! How foolish for us to seek to avoid sin to keep from being punished. Equally foolish of us to believe that “bad” things that happen to us are because we have sinned in some way or another. Rather, let us, let me seek to stop displeasing and dishonoring you by continuing to sin in the same ways. Help me to talk to, to preach to myself, the principles and doctrines of the Gospel, weakening, nay, killing sin within me, that I might resist it more faithfully.

Come, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends.


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