Tag Archives: Spirit

How to Mortify Sin (Repost)

Determine that you will, everyday and in every duty abolish and destroy this ruling principle of sin.  it will not die unless it is gradually and constantly weakened.  Spare it, and it heals its wounds and recovers its strength.  Negligence allows sin to regain such power that we may never recover our former state as long as we live.

We are continually to watch out for the rising up of this ruling principle of sin and immediately subdue it.  This is to be done in all that we are and do.  We are to be watchful in our behaviour to others, watchful when we are alone, watchful when in trouble or joy.  We are to be particularly watchful in the use of our pleasure times and in temptations.

Determine that you will no longer serve sin  (Rom. 6:6).  See it as the worst service of which a rational creature is capable.  If you serve sin it will bring you to a dreadful end.  Determine that though sin remains in you, yet you will not serve it.  Remember, if the ‘old ma’ is not crucified with Christ, you are still a servant of sin, whatever you might think of yourself.

Realise that it is no easy task to mortify sin.  Sin is a powerful and dreadful enemy.  There is no living thing that will not do everything in its power to save its life.  So sin also will fight to save its life.  If sin is not diligently hunted down and dealt with by holy violence, it will escape all our attempts at killing it.  It is a great mistake to think that we can at any time rest from this duty.  The ruling principle of sin to be slain is in us, and so has hold of all our faculties.  Sin cannot be killed without a sense of pain and trouble.  So Christ compared it to ‘cutting of the right hand’ and ‘plucking out the right eye’.  The battle is not against any particular lust but against all sinful lusts which war against the soul.

Mortification arising from convictions of the law leads only to dealing with particular sins, and always proves fruitless.  True mortifying of sin deals with the entire body of sin.  It goes tot the heart of the matter and lays the axe to the root of the tree.  This is the mortification which the Holy Spirit drives the believer to do.

Mortification of particular sins arises from a guilty conscience.  But mortification arising from gospel principles deals with the whole body of sin in its opposition to the renewing of the image of God in us.

John Owen (1616-83), The Holy Spirit, 167-69.

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Filed under Applied Theology, Bible, Christian Living, Christian Thinking, Church History, Holiness, Mortification of Sin, Pneumatology, Puritans, Reformation, Reformers, Sanctification, Sin, Spirit, Theology

The Quiet Heart of Prayer

For most of us, perhaps, it is still harder to secure the quiet heart. The contemplationists of the Middle Ages desired to present themselves before God in silence, that He might teach them what their lips should utter, and their hearts expect. Stephen Gurnall acknowledges that it is far more difficult to hang up the big bell than it is to ring it when it has been hung. Mc’Cheyne used to say that very much of his prayer time was spent in preparing to pray.  A new England Puritan writes: “While I was at the Word, I saw I had a wild heart, which was as hard to stand and abide before the presence of God in an ordinance, as a bird before any man. And Bunyan remarks from his own deep experience: “O ! the starting-holes that the heart hath in the time of prayer; none knows how many bye-ways the heart hath and back-lanes, to slip away from the presence of God.”

There are, in particular, three great, but simple acts of faith, which will serve to stay the mind on God.

1) Let us, in the first place, recognize our acceptance before God through the dying of the Lord Jesus. When a pilgrim, either of the Greek or of the Latin Church, arrives in Jerusalem, his first act, before ever he seeks refreshment or rest, is to visit the traditional scene of the Redeemer’s passion. Our first act in prayer ought to be the yielding of our souls to the power of the blood of Christ. It was in the power of the ritual sacrifice that the high priest in Israel passed through the veil on the day of atonement. It is in the power of the accepted offering of the Lamb of Divine appointment that we are privileged to come into the presence of God. “Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by the way which He dedicated for us, a new and living way, through the veil, that is to say, His flesh; and having a Great High Priest over the house of God; let us draw near with a true heart, in fullness of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our body washed with pure water: let us hold fast the confession of our hope that it waver not; for He is faithful that promised” (Heb. 10:19-23, R.V.).

“Were I with the trespass laden

Of a thousand worlds beside,

Yet by that path I enter –

The blood of the Lamb who died.”

2) It is important also that we confess and receive the enabling grace of the Divine Spirit, without whom nothing is holy, nothing good. For it is He who teaches us to cry, “Abba, Father,” who searches for us the deep things of God, who discloses to us the mind and will of Christ, who helps our infirmities, and intercedes on our behalf “according to God.”21 And we all, “with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Cor. 3:18). When we enter the inner chamber we should present ourselves before God in meekness and trust, and open our hearts to the incoming and infilling of the Holy Ghost. So we shall receive from the praying Spirit, and commit to the praying Christ, those petitions which are of Divine birth, and express themselves, through our finite hearts and sin-stained lips, in “groanings which cannot be uttered.” Without the support of the Holy Spirit, prayer becomes a matter of incredible difficulty. “As for my heart,” said one who was deeply exercised in this engagement, “when I go to pray, I find it so loath to go to God, and when it is with Him, so loath to stay with Him, that many times I am forced in my prayers, first to beg of God that He would take mine heart, and set it on Himself in Christ, and when it is there, that He would keep it there. Nay, many times I know not what to pray for, I am so blind, nor how to pray, I am so ignorant; only, blessed be grace, the Spirit helps our infirmities.”

3) Once more, as “the Spirit rides most triumphantly in His own chariot,” His chosen means of enlightenment, comfort, quickening, and rebuke being the Word of God, it is well for us in the beginning of our supplications to direct our hearts towards the Holy Scriptures. It will greatly help to calm the “contrary” mind if we open the sacred volume and read it as in the presence of God, until there shall come to us out from the printed page a word from the Eternal. George Mueller confessed that often he could not pray until he had steadied his mind upon a text.  Is it not the prerogative of God to break the silence? “When Thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto Thee, Thy face, Lord, will I seek” (Psa. 27:8). Is it not fitting that His will should order all the acts of our prayer with Himself? Let us be silent to God, that He may fashion us.

“So shall I keep

For ever in my heart one silent space;

A little sacred spot of loneliness,

Where to set up the memory of Thy Cross,

A little quiet garden, where no man

May pass or rest for ever, sacred still

To visions of Thy sorrow and Thy love.”

David MacIntyre (1859 – 1938), The Hidden Life of Prayer, Chapter 2.

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The Spirit and Education

‘Come, Creator Spirit!” is a prayer for Christian education.  To trace the work of the Spirit in creation and history is a spiritual task.  To praise God with the labours of our hands from the field, the laboratory, the factory and the study is spiritual service.  We do all to the glory of God.  While not all that we do is worship in the special sense, and while not all is under the direction of the officers of the church, yet the whole life of the Christian grows in the service of Christ, and is a life of spiritual nurture.

The Spirit of life is also the Spirit of truth, and he brings together what secular education routinely separates.  The dilemma of contemporary education is the contradiction between science and freedom.  Science seeks to programme everything, but people would be free.  Our conquest of nature has reached out into space, but it has also turned in upon human nature.  Social engineering imagines controlling the minds of the living, shaping the genes of the unborn, and even freezing the dead for scientific resurrection.  Perfect liberty for science becomes perfect tyranny for humankind, for when humankind is free to determine everything, then humanity will be determined by those who control the crucial moment.  Today, the secular mind, recoiling from the possibility of a Nazified science, turns instead to an irrational mysticism that shrouds another tyranny: possession by dark spirits.

The wisdom of the Spirit does not offer a supplement to the human mind, but challenges its autonomy at the roots.  Knowledge that knows not God is folly, for the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.  We are not computers, not is wisdom only data-storage and problem-solving.  Fellowship with the living God, and with the Spirit who searches the deep things of God, frees us to seek and possess knowledge.  Such spiritual wisdom combines theory and practice, word and life.

Edmund Clowney (1917-2005), The Church, 142-43.

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How to Mortify Sin

Determine that you will, everyday and in every duty abolish and destroy this ruling principle of sin.  it will not die unless it is gradually and constantly weakened.  Spare it, and it heals its wounds and recovers its strength.  Negligence allows sin to regain such power that we may never recover our former state as long as we live.

We are continually to watch out for the rising up of this ruling principle of sin and immediately subdue it.  This is to be done in all that we are and do.  We are to be watchful in our behaviour to others, watchful when we are alone, watchful when in trouble or joy.  We are to be particularly watchful in the use of our pleasure times and in temptations.

Determine that you will no longer serve sin  (Rom. 6:6).  See it as the worst service of which a rational creature is capable.  If you serve sin it will bring you to a dreadful end.  Determine that though sin remains in you, yet you will not serve it.  Remember, if the ‘old ma’ is not crucified with Christ, you are still a servant of sin, whatever you might think of yourself.

Realise that it is no easy task to mortify sin.  Sin is a powerful and dreadful enemy.  There is no living thing that will not do everything in its power to save its life.  So sin also will fight to save its life.  If sin is not diligently hunted down and dealt with by holy violence, it will escape all our attempts at killing it.  It is a great mistake to think that we can at any time rest from this duty.  The ruling principle of sin to be slain is in us, and so has hold of all our faculties.  Sin cannot be killed without a sense of pain and trouble.  So Christ compared it to ‘cutting of the right hand’ and ‘plucking out the right eye’.  The battle is not against any particular lust but against all sinful lusts which war against the soul.

Mortification arising from convictions of the law leads only to dealing with particular sins, and always proves fruitless.  True mortifying of sin deals with the entire body of sin.  It goes tot the heart of the matter and lays the axe to the root of the tree.  This is the mortification which the Holy Spirit drives the believer to do.

Mortification of particular sins arises from a guilty conscience.  But mortification arising from gospel principles deals with the whole body of sin in its opposition to the renewing of the image of God in us.

John Owen (1616-83), The Holy Spirit, 167-69.

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Filed under Applied Theology, Bible, Christian Living, Christian Thinking, Church History, Holiness, Mortification of Sin, Pneumatology, Puritans, Reformation, Reformers, Sanctification, Sin, Spirit, Theology