Great Quote: “Strength and comfort and power and peace, in our walking with God, are the things of our desires”
The impression we get from the title and subject of this book is that it’s full of doom and gloom. However, Owen is wanting his readers to experience ever deepening Joy. All those who want to know peace and joy – read on!
Principle 3 (final): Life, vigour and comfort in our Spiritual life depend much on our mortification of sin.
The essence of all our desire (strength, power, vigour and life in our walking with God, along with peace comfort and consolation) is very much dependant on this work of mortification.
Owen then carefully qualifies the relationship of mortification and attaining power and peace:
- We must be careful to understand that these objects of our desire (power and peace) aren’t a guaranteed result of our work in mortification. He quotes Psalm 88 by Heman who was diligent and Godly, yet God chose a pathway, in this life, by which he knew little comfort so that he (Heman) could be an example to others. Therefore, peace etc are not a mechanical result of our diligence – they are directly granted as a gift from God.
- Also, we understand that mortification can’t be classed as a direct cause of such consolation. (these things come as a direct result of our being adopted and are brought to us by the Holy Spirit)
- However, in the ordinary Christian life, our vigour, life, power and peace depend much on mortification.
Reasons why these blessings depend much on mortification
- Mortification is the only thing to stop sin from sapping our strength and robbing our comfort and peace
1.1. Sin weakens the soul. In Psalm 60 David says that he is feeble and broken because of sin. Because:
1.1.1. Sin untunes the heart, unframes it and entangles it. Sin draws our affection away from God so that we cannot get that robust communion with God that we get when the conscience is clear.
1.1.2. Sin captures our thoughts. Our thoughts are like great cables which supply power to our affections. If those thoughts are taken by sin then they are unplugged from feeding affection toward God and are plugged in to feeding and adorning affection for sin/ idols.
1.1.3. Sin also hinders duty so we find ourselves putting our energy into vain pursuit.
1.2. Sin not only saps the strength of the soul it also darkens the soul
Owen describes the effect of sin as a dark cloud, blocking out the rays of God’s sunlight. He says that mortification is the only remedy for those experiencing such darkness. He astutely recognises the type of believer who is suffering, hating the darkness and even calling out to God in prayer to remove the darkness. Yet God will never answer until they recognise their sin and bring it to God (Hosea 5 V 13-15.
2. Mortification cleans out the heart and makes room for the graces of God to Grow. He uses a lengthy illustration of a herb garden overgrown by weeds – the good herbs are chocked and dying. But once the garden is cleared the herbs grow with vigour.
3. Mortification is the greatest evidence of heart that is sincere. “Mortification is the soul’s vigorous opposition to self”