A Call To Battle
Anyone who has been to Calvary Grace Church for any amount of time has hopefully realised by now, that we have a lot to say about sin. To be sure, we have much to say about grace as well, but you can’t fully appreciate grace until you’ve spent some time pondering sin. Unfortunately, people can fall victim to a morbid introspection where your sin is all you see and grace is but a flicker of hope for a troubled soul. Nevertheless, the pathology of introspection doesn’t negate the necessity of it. We need to ponder our sin, for a time, but then fix our eyes once again on Christ.
This is what I would like to do in this month’s series of newsletters. I don’t, however, want to merely ponder the sinfulness of sin. I want to see people armed and ready to do battle against it. Sin pondered may make a person appreciate grace, but only in part. The gospel of grace is not just that we are forgiven, but that God is gracious in giving us his Spirit to start, even now, to change us into his likeness. So sin pondered needs to proceed to sin mortified (put to death) if we are to live in light of the full implications of the gospel.
Way back when Calvary Grace Church was a few families who met at Rutland Community center, I did a series of Sunday school lessons on John Owen and “The Mortification of Sin in Believers.” It was important that the new church plant understand sin and be motivated to battle against it. A church that isn’t dealing with sin is a church that is dying, not growing. What John Owen said of the individual, I believe, is also true of the church.
“Do you mortify; do you make it your daily work; be always at it while you live; cease not a day from this work; be killing sin or it will be killing you.” (p.50)
The church is made up of individuals and whether it’s healthy or not will depend on the health of the individuals who are part of it. So, it is vital for the health of the church for its members to pursue holiness and fight sin.
So, a new church needs to be concerned about holiness and sin fighting if it is going to grow. Similarly, an established church needs to be concerned about these things if it is going to stay healthy. May we never become complacent about our sin. It is always with us and it is always acting. John Owen would tell us to beware the sin that lays quiet.
“When sin lets us alone we may let sin alone; but as sin is never less quiet than when it seems to be most quiet, and its waters are for the most part deep when they are still, so ought our contrivances against it to be vigorous at all times and in all conditions, even where there is least suspicion.” (p.51)
So let us look again at our sin, not that we may merely ponder it, but that by God’s grace we may make headway against it. Again, John Owen:
“There is not a day but sin foils or is foiled, prevails or is prevailed on; and it will be so while we live in this world.” (p.52)
* Quotes referenced from: Kapic, K., & Taylor, J. (Eds.). (2006). Overcoming Sin and Temptation. Three Classic Works by John Owen. Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway Books.
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