Daily Devotional – Mortification of Sin

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March 20, 2019 by directorfsm

by John Owen – March 19th, 2019

Chapter 12
Meditations upon God

8. Exercise Yourself to Meditate upon God

The eighth preparatory direction for the mortification of sin is:

Use and exercise yourself to such meditations as may serve to fill you at all times with self-abasement and thoughts of your own vileness.

Such meditations include the following.

a. The excellence and majesty of God

   Be much in thoughtfulness about the excellence of the majesty of God and your own infinite, inconceivable distance from Him. Many thoughts of it cannot but fill you with a sense of your own vileness, which strikes deep at the root of any indwelling sin. When Job comes to a clear discovery of the greatness and the excellence of God, he is filled with self-abhorrence and is pressed to humiliation (Job 42:5-6). And in what state does the prophet Habakkuk affirm himself to be cast upon the apprehension of the majesty of God (Hab 3:16)? “With God,” says Job, “is terrible majesty” (Job 37:22). Hence men of old thought that when they had seen God they should die.

   The Scripture abounds in this self-abasing consideration, comparing the men of the earth to “grasshoppers,” to “vanity,” to the “dust of the balance,” in respect of God (Isa 40:12-25). Be much in thoughts of this nature to abase the pride of your heart and to keep your soul humble within you. There is nothing that will give you a greater indisposition to be imposed on by the deceits of sin than such a frame of heart. Think greatly of the greatness of God.

b. Your unacquaintedness with God

   Think much of your unacquaintedness with God. Though you know enough to keep you low and humble, yet how little a portion is it that you know of Him! This contemplation cast that wise man into the apprehension of himself which he expresses, “Surely I am more brutish than any man, and have not the understanding of a man. I neither learned wisdom, nor have the knowledge of the holy. Who hath ascended up into heaven, or descended? who hath gathered the wind in his fists? who hath bound the waters in a garment? who hath established all the ends of the earth? what is his name, and what is his son’s name, if thou canst tell?” (Pro 30:2-4).

   Labor with this also to take down the pride of your heart. What do you know of God? How little a portion is it! How immense is He in His nature! Can you look without terror into the abyss of eternity? You cannot bear the rays of His glorious being.

c. Men of high attainment yet know little of God

   To keep your heart in continual awe of the majesty of God, consider that persons of the most high and eminent attainment, of the nearest and most familiar communion with God, do yet in this life know but a very little of Him and His glory. God reveals His name to Moses— the most glorious attributes that He has manifested in the Covenant of Grace: “merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth…” (Exo 34:57); yet all are but the “back parts” of God (33:23). All that he knows by it is but little and low compared to the perfections of His glory. Hence it is with peculiar reference to Moses that it is said, “No man hath seen God at any time” (Joh 1:18). Of him in comparison with Christ he speaks (1:17); and of him it is here said, “No man”—no, not Moses, the most eminent among them—“hath seen God at any time.” We speak much of God, can talk of Him, His ways, His works, His counsels, all the day long; but the truth is, we know very little of Him. Our thoughts, our meditations, our expressions of Him are low, many of them unworthy of His glory, none of them reaching His perfections.

Excerpts from Mortification of Sin by John Owen from: The Chapel Library •  chapel@mountzion.org


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