Monday, July 30, 2012


I started a book called Overcoming Sin and Temptation by John Owen. Just the title makes you want to shelve it and never think about it again. Man is it amazing. Just listen to this:

The truth is, what between placing mortification in a rigid, stubborn frame of spirit - which is for the most part earthly, legal, censorious, partial, consistent with wrath, envy, malice, pride - on the one hand, and and pretenses of liberty, grace, and I know not what, on the other, true evangelical mortification is almost lost among us.
And he wrote that about four centuries ago.  wow.

Too long have I lived in merciless rule following. Too long have I given lipservice to grace while adopting the posture of the condescending legalist. But the journey into the realms of true mortification is staggeringly terrible. I described it to a friend as jumping off a cliff into a vast, wild, unfathomably deep ocean. Allowing the Holy Spirit to have free reign in my heart, to kill and destroy and subject without interference to save my pet sins and favored bad habits - that is terrifying.

And yet.

I was on a bus this weekend where I had the unfortunate grief of sharing my window with a little flying ant-like creature. Despite the open door behind him he flew into the window repeatedly with an unquenchable desire for freedom and perhaps a blinding terror at how he could see, but not reach the freedom before him. I, like this ant, have so long been insensible to the Spirit, tying desperately to hide my sin, to mortify only the outward manifestations of sin without changing my heart. Just like the fly, though, no amount of effort, however Herculean, can allow me to kill what is insurmountably stronger than I am. But unlike the ant, I can finally see the futility of my efforts to sanctify myself.

But having now seen the door of the Spirit, finding the courage to walk through it, to face the death (not just the hiding) of a thousand sinful habits I can't imagine living without, seems impossible. Knowing too that I must live in this constant tension of dying daily, that the soul that fails to fight for even a moment loses immeasurable ground in the battle, can be overwhelming to the point of death. One is tempted to live in the lies of self-sanctification rather than face the all consuming sanctification of the Spirit.

So why press on? Why bother with something so fierce, so terrible in its determination to destroy? Because I have seen what lies on the other side of that window. Because I have tasted the water of life and felt the great cloud of witnesses pressing me towards the door. Because my desire is no longer focused on me, but on a love that gives me the strength to run through the pain of true mortification instead of hiding from it.

No comments:

Post a Comment