Josiah Audette

"Aware of the past, curious about the future, ready to argue the present." Tocqueville

Tag: Spiritual Disciplines

Furnished Faith

Jascha Heifetz

I should like to draw your attention this morning to 2 Peter 1:5-8

“Therefore give even all diligence thereunto: join moreover virtue with your faith: and with virtue, knowledge: And with knowledge, temperance: and with temperance, patience: and with patience, godliness: and with godliness, brotherly kindness: and with brotherly kindness, love. For if these things be among you, and abound, they will make you that ye neither shall be idle, nor unfruitful in the acknowledging of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Jascha Heifetz

It was May 20, 1912 just a month after the historic Titanic’s sinking. The place was none other than the culture seat of the world, Berlin, at the home of Arthur Abell. The occasion was a private press matinee for the European debut of a new, unfamiliar violinist. The piece was Fritz Kreisler’s Schon Rosmarin. The august audience consisted of many leading violinists and musical figures of the time, including the incomparable Kreisler himself. It was a regal event to be sure. The music however for the performance was found to be missing so Kreisler stepped forward to replace the piano accompanist and perform with the new violinist his own piece of music from memory. With the distinguished Kreisler seated at the piano the time arrived for the violinist to take centre stage. The audience listened in anticipation to the soft footsteps trudging up the stage when a small boy of eleven appeared holding under a small hand his dear instrument. The bow itself was over half his height. With the violin tucked under his tiny chin the supple fingers began to effortlessly work the instrument into producing mellifluous, dulcet tones. The piece was finished and the result was pandemonium. Kreisler reported, “you should have seen the amazement on their faces.” Indeed Kreisler himself was surprised at this young virtuoso’s performance of his own piece of music as he confessed to the audience afterwards, “We might as well take our fiddles and smash them across our knees.” The eleven year old boy was Jascha Heifetz, regarded now as one of the greatest artists of all time. Although he was a virtuoso, Jascha was a musician of strict discipline. Much later in life he confessed to his students, “If I don’t practice one day, I can tell. If I don’t practice for two days, the critics can tell. If I don’t practice for three days, the public can tell.” This coming from a prodigy. Herein lies the reality of the Christian’s need for daily discipline and diligence. There is an element of Christian activity and we have to get a hold of this principle. The question is what can you tell of your current condition as a Christian? What can your critics  and opposition in the world tell? What can your brothers and sisters in the Lord tell?

Marasmic Malady

We can note that the Apostle Peter is indeed writing to Christians, but more particularly, Christians of a certain condition. A condition which is indicated in verse 8 as idle and unfruitful. This is a pitiful state in the Christian layman of spiritual lethargy which inevitably produces spiritual depression. This was an audience of miserable Christians. Though they were Christians (And they certainly were or else Peter wouldn’t be writing to them) they didn’t count for much. They lead ineffective lives without activity, accomplishment, or affect. They were tired. Marasmic. Indolent. Unaffected by their own sickness. In the words of Lloyde Jones, “The sort of person you have to grant that they are a Christian and yet there is so little in their life to show for it.” Such a marasmic malady is sadly not foreign to our time. This is not a 1st century problem and our interest in it is not merely theoretical. We too can correspond to Peter’s audience. We too know very little of the fullness of a Christian life. We too are unfamiliar with the meaning of Paul’s exhortation to “be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.” Yet what is the cause of such a condition? What can you even tell is your condition?

Fatigued Faith

Lloyde Jones observes, “The whole cause of trouble is the sheer absence of discipline and order in their lives.” There is a general type of indolence and fatigue which effects us all in matters of spiritual activity and is produced by none other than the Devil. With regards to the question of Christian life we do not experience the same vigour and vitality as we do with our other pleasures, business, or interests. If such a state of religious exhaustion continues the Apostle warns we will have “forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.” Meaning, the life and energy which is to distinguish our current state from our past is so severely diminished that we find ourselves in a point of unemployed ambition, meaningless reality, and fatigued faith. We have forgotten why we are Christians and what it means to be such in the first place. This actuality is not evidence that we are not Christians, but rather that we are among the miserable Christians which Peter is writing to. Is your faith fatigued? What can you tell?

Magical & Mystical Faith

Another cause of this marasmic malady is a wrong view of faith in the first instance. As noted by Lloyde Jones there are primarily two errors persisting in modern day with regards to the subject of faith. The first is a magical view of faith and the second is a mystical one. Some Christians regard their faith as being quite magical. The notion that it happens all by itself. God makes it appear in our lives and from thereon is automatically works in our life. You needn’t do anything to it because it will function and develop of its own accord. They regard it as though it were some vestigial internal organ of the soul and not a muscle to be exercised. The second notion, which is quite related, is a mystical one. It is a conception of faith that considers it as a whole and measures it in terms of a personal relationship to Christ. Negatively speaking they do not recognize it in component elements as Peter does. Faith to them is merely to be continually waiting and looking upon the Lord.  The only activity required on our part is passivity. Their mantra is to abide in the Lord as the only thing to do. Naturally such rational, no matter how oft repeated or reevaluated, can only produce spiritual lethargy. So these together, an erroneous view of faith and a spiritual indolence, are the most productive cause of spiritual depression. Lloyd Jones admonished, “The modern heresy in protestantism and perhaps dare I say, evangelicalism, is that in our fear of justification by works we have been tempted to say works don’t matter. Antinomianism in other words. Faith alone counts, and because I’m a man of faith it doesn’t matter very much what I do. My life can be thoroughly lacking in discipline… The opposite to trusting in your works is not to do nothing it is to do everything but not to trust them. It is not the works that are wrong it is the trust in your works, that your works are meritorious.”  This abuse of justification by faith, this abuse of the perseverance of the saints, this kind of new, reformed antinomianism affects our interest in the Gospel as consisting in purely intellectual terms. Where faith in the whole is an intellectual assent by which one grasps the Gospel’s dogma and doctrine, one understands it, revels in it, expounds with it, but stops at that as though nothing more is necessary to it. Faith involves the whole personality. Not exclusively the mind through intellectual propositions, but inclusively also the heart, the will, and the personal behaviour. There is nothing contradictory or incongruous here to us as custodians of faith. What can you tell of your understanding of faith?

Discipline

“Give even all diligence.” This is not an admonishment to passivity. Just to surrender it all to God, that we have nothing to do with regards to our faith. This is utterly unscriptural. “The treatment prescribed by the Apostle for his condition is to make every effort, exercise discipline, management, and order.”Lloyd Jones. Herein is the element of our activity. We are concerned with being as active as possible, but only as active as we are empowered by the Lord. “To be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.” Indeed it is His might but is is also in us. Just as Jascha found his capacity for music within so likewise we have latent, and inherent faith to be practiced in us. Likewise Peter exhorts us to “Giving all diligence, add to your faith.” Faith was put into us at rebirth, but it is for us to develop it, supplement it, furnish it out, and actually add to it. It is not going to be added for you. It is our activity. Again, your faith is not automatic or magical. Again, you must add to it, it is not a mystical all-encompassing, full, complete entity.  There is more to it and there is more you have to do with it. Herein lies so much of the confusion about spiritual development and power. Peter reaffirms this principle later, “Give rather diligence to make your calling and election sure.” Granted you cannot elect yourself, but you can diligently give affirmation to it. “For if you do these things, ye shall never fall.” You have got to be doing them. There is no doctrine of passivity with regards to faith. So be diligent. Negatively, do not dismiss the need of personal diligence. Understand that such passivity runs the risk of spiritual depression and religious lethargy. Acknowledge that no progress or development will ever be realized in your faith apart from attending to it with all diligence. An undisciplined army is a defeated army. Spiritual discipline combats spiritual depression mightily. Which can you tell is your spiritual state?

Furnish Your Faith

We all have experienced that discipline without direction is drudgery. So how are we then to direct our discipline? By adding to your faith. “The first thing is the sheer necessity of discipline, and order, and arrangement. The second is that we have to supplement our faith.” Lloyd Jones. The best depiction of the term “Add” is “Furnish.” In other terms we are to furnish out our faith. Supplement our faith. We are to think of it as supplying our faith. Don’t be satisfied with leaving it as it is, go ahead and furnish it out. Is it complete, cultivated, fuller, and developed? What can you tell?

Moral Energy

Firstly, we are to furnish out our faith with virtue. By virtue we mean not the common connotation of goodness, but rather virtue as strength, acting power, or something efficacious. Lloyde Jones describes it as “Moral Energy.” We understand something of this from Mark 5:30 where Christ was touched by the woman with an issue of blood and “Immediately Jesus did know in himself the virtue that went out of him.” Similarly, we are to add to our faith the selfsame virtue that was in Christ. Indeed such a virtue is quite unfamiliar to ourselves. Christ sensed it flowing from him whereas we can hardly sense it flowing in us. Considering again that Peter is writing to Christians experiencing a condition that is languid, undisciplined, and slack thusly his exhortation to moral energy is first and foremost. You have been regenerated with faith and in addition you must cease to be languid. Positively stated you must supplement your faith with moral energy, grit, power, might, and strength. Arouse and awake yourself. If you were to go about treating anything in life as lethargically as you do your faith hardly anything good would come of it. Far to many latitudinarian Christians suffer from the mumps and measles of the soul. Without this virtue, this vigour, added to your faith the depression and lethargy will go by unaffected. What can you tell?

Insight

Second we are to furnish out our faith with knowledge. Now that we have the energy to act we must know what to act upon and how to do so. This knowledge is not merely doctrinal or scholarly conclusions, but more particularly, Christian insight, understanding, and enlightenment. You have to know the Christian life. You have to know the wiles and temptations about you. You have to know the efficacy of discipline and diligence. You have to know your religion, its ordinances, and your duties in it. Such insight is only attained by diligent attendance to the Scriptures. What can you tell by your observances of Scripture?

Self-Control

Temperance simply means self-control and self-control simply means control of yourself. More specifically of your appetites, lusts, passions, and desires. Webster defines it as “Moderation; particularly, habitual moderation in regard to the indulgence of the natural appetites and passions; restrained or moderate indulgence; as temperance in eating and drinking; temperance in the indulgence of joy or mirth. Temperance in eating and drinking is opposed to gluttony and drunkenness, and in other indulgences, to excess.” Indeed what is a greater producer of spiritual and physical lethargy than inordinate indulgence? You can experience no furbishment of your faith or diligence of discipline apart from controlling every aspect of your life. We experience so little of virtue because we expend so much of it by our appetites. Self control is one of the most evident marks of being Spirit controlled. So what can you tell?

Patient Endurance

Patient endurance is also to be furnished to our faith. As with all disciplines they are not merely to be started but to be continued. It is a daily, moment by moment continuing under pain or distress without sinking or yielding to the pressure of the religious lethargy which besets us. Peter assures us that if we patiently endure “Ye shall never fall.”Indeed when we have fallen has it not been due to an implicit failure in this regard? Do you know this? Can you tell?

Can They Tell?

The later three furbishments are towards others. Namely, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love. Interestingly this is something too which we are to add to our faith. We can add godliness. Lloyde Jones plainly comments godliness as, “Maintain your attitude towards God.” Consciously walk in the sight of God. This is piety.  Do your diligence as though it is done in the sight of God Himself. Exercise your discipline in view of His viewing you. Webster defines, “A careful observance of the laws of God and performance of religious duties, proceeding from love and reverence for the divine character and commands of Christian obedience.” And of brotherly kindness Webster writes, “Good will; benevolence; that temper or disposition which delights in contributing to the happiness of others, which is exercised cheerfully in gratifying their wishes, supplying their wants, or alleviating their distresses.” There are many Christians who deprive themselves of strength and might as they deprive themselves of the brethren. Loving the brethren is rather a proof of life as the Apostle John states. Some of our lives look the complete opposite of Peter’s exhortation. Our attitude towards this would read thusly, “Do the least you can, and see that your faith carries with it inability. Your inability must be accompanied by ignorance, your ignorance by indulgence, your indulgence by inaction. Your inaction too must always be accompanied by inconstancy to God; that in turn must have the quality of incivility, and your incivility must lead to indifference.” What can they tell?

Commanded to Character

It is interesting to observe that always in Scripture we are exhorted towards character, not specially towards particular deeds or disciplines. You can have some character without discipline. It will be weak and frail. You will be counted among Peter’s idle and barren Christians, but Christian nonetheless. However there is a discipline without Christian character. Such is the disciplines of the pharisees and sadducees. Peter does not list us to add prayer, meditation, memorization, silence, solitude, fasting, and reading to our faith. We are to furnish our faith not with disciplines but with character. We add character only by discipline. Though we, like Jascha Heirfetz, have latent and inherent vigour in our respective capacities it still behooves us to furnish it out through diligent discipline.  We need discipline ourselves as regenerated believers as much as Jascha needed to practice as a prodigy. Lloyd Jones comments,“The most essential thing in the development of any power, faculty, any force that is latent within us is the more exercise the more developed they become.” So if I don’t discipline myself one day, I can tell. If I don’t discipline myself for two days, my oppressors can tell. If I don’t diligently discipline myself for three days, my brethren can tell. What can they tell? What are they and God concerned primarily with? My disciplines? No. Rather what my disciplines produce, namely, character. We mustn’t confuse diligent discipline as either the beginning of faith or the end of it. The triune God begins faith in us and Christian character is the end of it. Diligent discipline only affirms the former and supplies the latter. This progression of faith’s beginning in the sovereignty of God and end in the full character of Christ does not happen by itself, it does not happen to it, we are to do it and discipline is required. If you are currently in a mesmeric malady, experiencing spiritual lethargy and depression, arrest yourself. Arouse and shake off your languidness. Arise and incite within you a moral vigour, a spiritual energy. Saturate your mind with Scriptural insight. Restrain yourself from those inordinate appetites which so easily beset and fatigue you. Patiently endure the character building process of such diligent discipline. Do so in the sight of God for the sake of the brethren in love. “For if these things be among you, and abound, they will make you that ye neither shall be idle, nor unfruitful in the acknowledging of our Lord Jesus Christ.” May zeal for the Lord consume you.

Let us therefore be up and doing.

Unmortified Sin

Mortification of Sin in Believers

Sin is any want of conformity to or transgression of the law of God. 

Solemn Sins Don’t Make a Sinless Saint

There was a small, seaside village where lived two sailors. While they were both out at sea a frightful hour arose with the heavens turned as black as hell, clouds disgorging as would a mountain cascade, and surging wave began. At the moment the first wave spewed its harrowing expanse over the first sailor his vessel became overset and descended into the fathomless depths of the shadows. Whereas the other sailor pressed on as the wind assailed his masts, the sharp mist pierced his eyes, and the sea continually swallowed his vessel only to vomit it out again until the storm had finally passed. Which sailor knows more about the sea? As the proverb says, “Smooth Seas Don’t Make a Skilled Sailor.” Somehow Christians miss the picture when it comes to sin. We think the person who knows the most about sin is the person who has sinned the most, not the least. This is why we who with conservative upbringings often regard our testimonies as inferior to the testimonies of those who come out of ill-bred backgrounds. Not so. Contrarily, the one Person who knows the most about sin, its efficacy, its reality, its temptation, its nature, its deceit, its prevalence is the one Person who never sinned. Christ. Even in our own experience with temptation, it never gets easier. It is like the pain of an insatiable appetite which increases moment by moment until it is fed. It is like the irritation of an itchiness that perpetually festers and hankers to the point of shrouding all other bodily sensation until it is scraped. In one sense Christ was tempted like as we are, yet in another sense he wasn’t. The compulsion of Christ’s temptation surpassed that which has ever been known to human experience, because he never gave in. He entered into temptation, but temptation never entered into him. We think we know so much about sin and its effects, but we know so little because we know so little of Christ. So if you want to learn about sin and how to mortify it do not look to another sinner. Do not look to your own sin. Look to Christ. “Solemn Sins Don’t Make a Sinless Saint.”

The Breeder is Inbred.

“I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.” There is a point of time in Christian experience when we all come to the same discovery as the Apostle Paul and echo with Job, “Behold, I am vile.” These declarations are not intellectual conclusions. Paul says, “I found.” Job says, “Behold.” Their discovery was unexpected. They learned by experience that they are vile and as Isaiah wail in shock, “Woe is me! for I am undone.” Herein is the difference between knowing the law of sin and experiencing the power of this law. Paul is not reading an electrical schematic here, he is grasping the hot wire. Believers likewise experience the power and efficacy of indwelling sin. Evil is present with you. Yes, through regeneration by the Holy Spirit you now have an ordinary, constant prevailing will of doing good, but it does not go unchecked by the force of indwelling sin to the contrary. This evil within you is not just dormant and abiding, but furthermore active. It is always seducing, tempting, and deceiving you. Sin conceives and brings forth death and this breeder of every evil is inbred first in you. Consequently sin is either killing you or you are killing it. There goes not a moment where sin foils or is foiled, conquers or is conquered, prevails or is prevailed on. John Owen writes, “Sin will be always acting, if we be not always mortifying.” This is the daily business of every believer. There is no compromise, no truce, no agreement between the flesh of your old man in you by natural generation of your first father Adam and the Spirit of God in you by supernatural regeneration of your second Adam. Hence Christ exhorts, “What I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.” Few things in war are more dangerous than a traitor within the gates. Its been said that Napoleon once confessed that he would rather face 10,000 well trained, well commanded soldiers than one Calvinist who thought he was in the will of God. Similarly, the one thing more dangerous to the state of your soul than 10,000 demons in hell is one unmortified instrument of unrighteousness in you.  The old man within you is more dangerous than ten thousand demons without. Ambrose Bierce then rightly defines “Alone” as “In bad company.” You are in bad company “So I say unto all, Watch.” Be killing sin or sin will be killing you. “Let not that man think he makes any progress in holiness who walks not over the bellies of his lusts. He who does not kill sin in his way takes no steps towards his journey’s end. He who finds not opposition form it, and who sets not himself in every particular to its mortification, is at peace with it, not dying to it.” John Owen.

The Bonds without Bounds

Unmortified sin aims always at the utmost and outermost. Owen observes, “Every time it rises put 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 coats desire would be oppression, every thought of unbelief would be atheism, might it grow to its head… it is like the grace that is never satisfied.” When you swallow one mouthful into excess it aims to make you an bulimic glutton. When you perform just one task in a lethargic manner it would make you an unresponsive sloth. When you quaff one sip beyond propriety it seeks to make you an insatiable drunkard. When you countenance one flirtation it seeks to make you an unreserved whoremonger. So have no toleration for sin because it has no toleration for you. Have no mercy upon it or it shall have no mercy upon you. There are no bounds to the bonds sin would have on you. “So I say unto all, Watch.”

The Irrational is Smart

Sin is totally irrational. Sin is suicidal because it kills you. “If ye live after the flesh ye shall die.” Sin is cosmic treason because it foists itself against God. Although it be incomparably irrational, unmortified sin is smart in deluding, deceiving, and disillusioning the hearts of men. Here are the 7 deadly progressions of unmortified sin.

  1. Unmortified sin will weaken the soul by depleting its vigour. “It was weak through the flesh” the Apostle writes.
  2. Unmortified sin redirects the affections towards its own ends as desirable thus exiling the excellencies of God for the soul’s communion. “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one , and despise the other.” Sin is a surrogate pleasure.
  3. Unmortified sin will rob the soul of its comfort and peace. “To be spiritually minded is life and peace.” By rule of reference, unmortified sin is not life and peace.
  4. Unmortified sin consumes the mind. Owen illustrates the thoughts of our mind as being the purveyors or delivery service carrying objects to satisfy our soul’s affections. If our affections thus have been reconstituted by unmortified sin, consequently our imaginations will be darkened and now begin to generate defiled provisions to satisfy the lusts of our sinful soul. The knowledge which has been bestowed upon as the image bearers of God has been dethroned.
  5. Unmortified sin hinders our duty before God as we labour and contrive to provide for our sensual, vain imaginations when we ought to be engaged in the worship of God.
  6. Unmortified sin desensitizes us. The frequency and habit of the lusts which unmortified sin is generating in our affections and imaginations tend to interrupt any moment, dispel any notion, or mute any consideration to hinder its reign of death. This process is characterized by an inveterate hardening where with each new temptation our lusts receive a fresh vigour, violence, and vitiated expression which before was not capable.
  7. Unmortified sin is an incubator of death. This engrossment of debauched affections, this defilement of the imaginations renders the Christian to have no great fear of God’s chastisement, no bitterness as they daily digest sin, no beleaguering guilt of sin, but only slight and transient thoughts of their lusts. So they are not easily disquieted by sin, not especially sensitive to sin, nor altogether considerate of sin. Secretly their indulgent heart countenances a particular lust, reserves judgment upon it, and applies instead mercy to it. We say with Naaman, “The Lord pardon thy servant in this thing.”

If any of these irrationalities have outsmarted you dear Christian; awake, “You are fast asleep in a storm of anger round about you.” “So I say unto all, Watch.”

How Not to Mortify Sin

If the Holy Spirit has spoken over the noisome chatter of your defiled imaginations so that you now have a mind to mortify your sins. Mortification is not to utterly terminate sin, this is the aim but in this life cannot be accomplished. If now you make cry out with Paul, “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” consider first what mortification does not consist of.

  1. Mortification of sin consists not in spiritual disciplines. Often we subordinate the Holy Spirit and subrogate spiritual disciplines with him to perform the work and play his role in the duty of mortification. Spiritual disciplines, fasting, praying, meditation, silence, solitude, and such things are insufficient things in and of themselves to mortify your sin. Those who employ such means are always mortifying but never come to any measurable mortification. They may come to a sudden and fearful realization of their frightful state in unmortified sin and instantly pledge themselves to God in new rituals, disciplines, and duties yet never to experience mortification. John Owen reminds us, “Duties are excellent food for an healthy soul; they are no physic for a sick soul. He that turns his meat into his medicine must expect no great operation. Spiritually sick men cannot sweat out their distemper with working. But this is the way of men who deceive their own souls.”
  2. Mortification of sin consists not in a quiet, sedate nature. Ambrose Bierce humoursly defines, “Abstainer” as “A weak person who yield to the temptation of denying himself a pleasure. A total abstainer is one who abstains from everything but abstention, and especially from inactivity in the affairs of others.” Impairing your body and weakening your temperament is not a good thing in itself and no mortification consists therein. A man may have a lean body and still have an unquiet soul. Impeding your personality, temperament, and disposition does not necessarily mean you are improving it. Such persons have no understanding of indwelling sin. They see their bodies which are created in the image of God but imagine them to be the incarnation of sin. So they set out to impair, weaken, abstain and suppress their human flesh. But even if they were to peel every strip of skin from their bodies still they would not have mortified sin. For while unmortified sin may subsist their appetites and affections they do not consist in them. Outward weakening and impairing “Are to be looked on only as ways whereby the Spirit may, and sometimes does, put forth strength for the accomplishment of his own work.”
  3. Mortification of sin consists not in the diversion of sin. Capping a frequent sin only to have it vent itself elsewhere is not mortifying its multiplying. You may alter your temperament, vocation, relations, and designs only to change your master but be a servant still.
  4. Mortification of sin consists not in just occasional victories. Yea, this is often merely an illusion of mortification when in reality your unmortified sin is just playing dead. Suppose you quaff back drink in a uncontrolled carousal to the point of intoxicated unconsciousness. As you spent the next days recovering you would have no care for liquor. It would be foolish to confuse this effect as mortification. Your sin isn’t mortified its malignant. Similarly you may encounter some egregious sin and in a fit of fervour set out against it. Consequently your sin quiets itself for a season until your busying is over and the inquest past. Your sin isn’t mortified its malingered. The mother of death is playing dead. “So I say unto all, Watch.”

Mortify & Master

Owen writes, “All other ways of mortification are vain, all helps leave us helpless; it must be done by the Spirit.” This is the task of every Christian. The vigour, peace, and comfort of the soul, the thoughts of our mind, the duties from our God, and our life in Him depends upon this constant warfare. To neglect the mortification of sin is to neglect the Holy Spirit who was given us for the task. Only the Holy Spirit is both sufficient and efficient for the work of mortification.

  1. This work of mortification consists in the habitual weakening of sin. All means of grace, all spiritual disciplines are subordinate to Him in this effort. How are we to mortify sin? By the Spirit. How does the Spirit mortify sin? By increasing in us the fruits which are contrary to the lusts of the flesh. “For I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.” By weakening the root of sin. “If ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.” By applying the work of Christ to the sinner so we can commune with him. “But if the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwelleth in you.” But if the Holy Spirit does the mortifying why are we exhorted to mortify? Because “we live in the Spirit” and “also walk in the Spirit.” We do not act against the Spirit nor does he act without us.
  2. Mortification of sin consists in fighting and contending against sin. “To load it daily with all the things which… are previous, killing, and destructive to ti is the height of this contest. Such a one never thinks his lust is dead because it is quiet, but labours still to give it new wounds, new blows every day.” John Owen
  3. Mortification of sin consists in frequent success. Habitual, consistent, steady weakening is the true mark of mortification. It searches out the root and proceeds to beat it down.
  4. Mortification of sin consists in universal obedience. The war against unmortified sin is a universal one effected by a declaration of universal obedience. Let not a man think if he regards iniquity in his heart that he shall ever arrive at mortification of an indwelling sin. You will only love God so much as you first hate sin. If you reserve judgment and instead apply mercy to an unmortified sin you evidence that you contend against sin merely because it disquiets you. Consequently if it did not trouble you, you would not be troubled. If it did not disquiet you, you would not be disquieted. If it did not hurt you, you would not hurt it. Owen states, “Let not any man think to do his own work that will not do God’s. God’s work consists in universal obedience.” So if you will do anything you must do everything. It is not the mortification of sins, rather it is the mortification of sin, universally and unreservedly. It will cost you everything, but it would cost even more to fail in paying such a price.

Charge & Commission

  1. Examine yourself for the seven deadly delusions of unmortified sin. 
  2. Provoke your senses with a clear awareness of the guilt of unmortified sin. Say not with Naaman, “The Lord pardon thy servant in this thing.” Consider that your sin is especially grievous and aggravating before God. That your unmortified sins have inconceivably more guilt  than those who have not been bestowed with countless means of grace, upheld by the mercies of God, and experienced relief and deliverance from the hand of God which you have. “God sees a great deal of evil in the working of lust in their hearts, yea, and more than in the open, notorious acts of wicked men.” Do not belittle the guilt of your cosmic treason. Load your conscience with the guilt of sin.
  3. Imbue your faculties with a clear apprehension of the danger of unmortified sin. The danger of inveterate hardening. The danger of a delusional mind and defiled imaginations. The danger of temporal correction. Is it a little thing that God should bring weakness to your body, ruin to your estate, suffering to your family, reproach to your name?
  4. Incite your consciousness with a clear empathy that unmortified sin grieves the Holy Spirit. We have harboured those enemies He was meant to destroy in our hearts with Him. Be ashamed that your temple is kept defiled.
  5. Instil your your considerations with a clear perception that the Lord Jesus Christ is wounded afresh by it. “Seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.”
  6. Do not declare peace to your soul before God declares it. A false peace will not abide, but only create an environment for sin to once again fester. Wait upon God to speak peace to your soul.
  7. Declare Total War & Total Obedience. Be watchful for sin is watching you. Be killing sin or sin will be killing you. Be foiled by sin or foil sin. Be conquered or conquer. “So I say unto all, Watch.”

If you feel the guilt, danger, and evil of unmortified sin accept the call to worship. Say not you are to sinful to worship. It would be like saying your to dirty to have a bath, to hungry to eat, or to tired to rest. Come to Christ.