February 27, 2019 by directorfsm
by John Owen – February 27th, 2019
Chapter 7 “RULES FOR MORTIFICATION” Continued
2). False confidence
This duty is a thing good in itself (in its proper place), a duty evidencing sincerity, bringing home peace to the conscience. Therefore, a man finding himself really engaged in it—his mind and heart set against this or that sin, with purpose and resolution to have no more to do with it—is ready to conclude that his state and condition is good, and so to delude his own soul.
a). False quieting of the conscience. However, when his conscience has been made sick with sin and he could find no rest, when he should go to the great Physician of souls and get healing in His blood, the man by this engagement against sin pacifies and quiets his con-science and sits down without going to Christ at all. Ah, how many poor souls are thus deluded to eternity! “When Ephraim saw his sickness…[he] sent to king Jareb” (Hos 5:13), which kept him off from God. The whole bundle of the popish religion is made up of designs and contrivances to pacify the conscience without Christ—all described by the apostle in Romans 10:3.
b). Self-righteous satisfaction. By attempting mortification, men satisfy themselves that their state and condition is good, seeing they do that which is a work good in itself and they do not do it to be seen. They know they would have the work done in sincerity, and so are hardened in a kind of self-righteousness.
c). Giving up. When a man has thus for a season been deluded and has deceived his own soul and finds in a long course of life that indeed his sin is not mortified—or if he has changed one sin, he has gotten another—he begins at length to think that all contending is in vain. He thinks he will never be able to prevail but is only making a dam against water that increases on him. Hereupon he gives over as one despairing of any success and yields up him-self to the power of sin and that habit of formality(62) that he has fallen into.
This is the usual result with persons attempting the mortification of sin without first obtaining an interest in Christ. It deludes them, hardens them, and destroys them. And therefore, we see that there are not usually more vile and desperate sinners in the world than such as, having by conviction been put on this course, have found it fruitless and deserted it without a discovery of Christ. And this is the substance of the religion and godliness of the choicest formalists in the world, and of all those who in the Roman “synagogue” are drawn to mortification, as they drive Indians to baptism(63) or cattle to water.
I say, then, that mortification is the work of believers, and believers only. To kill sin is the work of living men; where men are dead (as all unbelievers, the best of them, are dead), sin is alive, and will live.
(62) formality – outward efforts without a heart for God. See Formality and Useless Kinds of Religion by J. C. Ryle (1816-1900); both available from CHAPEL LIBRARY.
(63) Indians to baptism – Roman Catholic missionary efforts in India in which they baptized natives to “make” them Christians; RC theology teaches that people are born again when sprinkled with water by a priest; no faith is necessary in that act.