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Encouragement from Sibbes to Persevere in Mortifying Sin

July 26, 2006

In case you didn’t have time to read the long quotation in the last post, I wanted to make sure you didn’t miss this one:

“At length, when God sees fittest, we shall see that all our endeavor has not been in vain.  The tree falls upon the last stroke, yet all the strokes help the work forward.”

Think about that.  Think about the tree as your besetting sin.  Keep hacking at it.  It’ll fall.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. blondie permalink
    July 26, 2006 5:11 pm

    I am tempted to NOT work at mortifying my sin. This is not because I am convinced that I have none. No, I am constantly aware of my failings. I sin against my husband. I confess that sin to God, then I am tempted to feel really bad and be saddened over how bad I was instead feeling the joy of my salvation which gives me forgiveness. Here is where another non glorifying event comes into my experiece. If God works in me to will and to act according to his good purpose, then I want to let him work and sit back and go about my day. (What bad teaching I have experienced! To practice “let go and let God” it just doesn’t fit with the truth of scripture). So, it seems that I have the repentance, but then I muck it up.

    Col. 3:1-4 and Galatians 2:20 Have been discussed in my household of late and I am oh so happy to hear my husband say that there is no mystical side to being hidden in Christ. I know I have been taught truth about this, and I have not thought that there is some second blessing that comes at some point in life, but somewhere there is confusion. My husband gave me John Owen on Mortifying Sin and told me to read the preface by Packer. Okay, I understood most of it. But I’m not ready to read Owen quite yet. What do I do? do I mortify sin, or do I set my heart on things above, do I mortify sin or do I live by faith in the son of God? How do I mortify sin and still live in that good feeling of “God loves me even though I screw up.”?

    This is what I think. I mortify sin by setting my mind on things above. I mortify sin and put to death the misdeeds of the body by memorizing scripture, by singing praise to him, by listening to a God glorifying sermon, by reading a good blog. etc. And do this while begging God for a good drink of him. Asking him to make that good drink so tasty and so satisfying that I don’t want to sin against my husband in that same way again.

    But in a way, all that good nourishing stuff seems to just distract me until I mess up again. So, have I understood correctly? Instead of being discouraged that the tree is falling. Keep asking God to make it fall and keep on doing the things that will mortify sin, reading his word, spending time singing, etc. etc.

  2. July 26, 2006 11:14 pm

    I think that you’re on the right track here. something that has lately been helpful to me is realizing that these spiritual disciplines you name are means by which I receive strength to hack at the tree. I need to fight with all HIS might, but I need to fight. I need to struggle with all his energy that so powerfully works in me (Col. 1:29), but I need to struggle nonetheless. Pray every morning and evening for God to change you.

    If you’re not ready for Owen, try Packer’s “Keep in Step with the Spirit”

  3. July 27, 2006 7:14 am

    another book plug on mortification of sin: “The Enemy Within” by Kris Lundgaard. Which is a restating in modern english and examples of Owen’s thoughts on the matter. I have only read snippets of it, but it has come to me highly reccomended.

  4. July 31, 2006 1:32 am

    blondie, you might like what Thomas Chalmers once said about the way in which our new behaviors come into our practicing fabric. “the expulsive power of a new affection”

    When our understanding of who God is and what He has done for us becomes deep enough within our hearts as to fill us completely as a new affection it will expel what we have put as idols in His place. Ephesians 5:3-4 mentions that instead of sensual desires we should be thankful; an odd comment to be sure until we realize that at the heart of our sin is a desire for more than what we currently have and a lack of thankfullness.

    It reminds me of hydraulic pistons, when you apply enough pressure the arm shows itself – one pushes the other – one in and one out. Soon you can use the piston regularly while still having an occassional seal replacement.

    New affections toss out old habits.

  5. August 2, 2006 10:34 pm

    “hack hack hacking at that old tree-ee-ee? ”

    hint: try “knocking”

  6. August 3, 2006 8:40 am

    Thanks, I needed that running through my head this morning.

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