March 4, 2019 by directorfsm
by John Owen – March 4th, 2019
Chapter 8 RULES FOR MORTIFICATION
B. Sincerity and Diligence (Continued)
A second reason to avoid focusing on mortifying only one particular sin is this: How do you know but that God has suffered the lust wherewith you have been perplexed to get strength in you and power over you in order to chasten you for your other negligences and common lukewarmness in walking before Him—at least to awaken you to the consideration of your ways, that you may make a thorough work and change in your course of walking with Him?
The rage and predominance of a particular lust is commonly the fruit and result of a care-less, negligent course in general, and that upon a double account.
1). As its natural effect, if I may so say. Lust, as I showed in general, lies in the heart of everyone, even the best, while he lives. Think not that the Scripture speaks in vain that it is subtle, cunning, crafty; that it seduces, entices, fights, rebels (Jer 17:9). While a man keeps a diligent watch over his heart, which is sin’s root and fountain; while above all keepings he keeps his heart, from whence are the issues of life and death (Pro 4:23)—then lust withers and dies in it. But if through negligence lust makes an eruption in a particular way, gets a passage to the thoughts by the affections, and from them and by them perhaps breaks out into open sin in the life, then the strength of sin follows the way it has found out, and that way mainly it urges until, having got a passage, it then vexes, disquiets, and is not easily to be restrained. Thus, perhaps a man may be put to wrestle all his days in sorrow with that which might easily have been prevented by a strict and universal watch.
2). God’s use of one sin to chasten another. As I said, God often suffers one sin to break out in order to chasten our negligence. As with wicked men, He gives them up to one sin as the judgment of another—a greater for the punishment of a less, or one that will hold them more firmly and securely for that which they might have possibly obtained a deliverance from (Rom 1:26). This is so even with His own. He may, He does, leave them sometimes to some distressing condition, either to prevent or cure some other evil. So was the messenger of Satan let loose on Paul that he might not be lifted up through the abundance of spiritual revelations (2Co 12:7). Was it not a correction to Peter’s vain confidence that he was left to deny his Master?
Now, if this be the state and condition of lust in its prevalence, that God oftentimes suffers it so to prevail—at least in order to admonish us and humble us, and perhaps to chasten and correct us for our general loose and careless walking—is it possible that the effect should be removed and the cause continued—so that the particular lust should be mortified while the general course be unreformed?
He, then, that would really, thoroughly, and acceptably mortify any disquieting lust—let him take care to be equally diligent in all parts of obedience, and know that every lust, every omission of duty, is burdensome to God, though but one lust is burdensome to him (Isa 43:24). While there abides a treachery in the heart to indulge any negligence in not pressing universally to all perfection in obedience, the soul is weak, as not giving faith its whole work; and the soul is selfish, as considering more the trouble of sin than the filth and guilt of it. The soul then lives under a constant provocation of God, so that it may not expect any comfortable result in any spiritual duty that it undertakes—much less in this under consideration, which requires another principle and frame of spirit for its accomplishment.
Excerpts from Mortification of Sin by John Owen from:The Chapel Library • firstname.lastname@example.org