Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Sanctification, Sin, and Old Guys...

My friend, Gerda Inger, sent me this wonderful quote of John Owen's (Overcoming Sin and Temptation).  It's from the web site The Old Guys, a blog with the self-described purpose of putting "others in touch with helpful quotes, books, and resources concerning Christian life and thought from a specific group of people…. The Old Guys." 

To mortify a sin is not utterly to kill, root it out, and destroy it, that it should have no more hold at all nor residence in our hearts. It is true this is that which is aimed at; but this is not in this life to be accomplished. There is no man that truly sets himself to mortify any sin, but he aims at, intends, desires its utter destruction, that it should leave neither root nor fruit in the heart or life. He would so kill it that it should never move nor stir anymore, cry or call, seduce or tempt, to eternity. Its not-being is the thing aimed at. Now, though doubtless there may, by the Spirit and grace of Christ, a wonderful success and eminency of victory against any sin be attained, so that a man may have almost constant triumph over it, yet an utter killing and destruction of it, that it should not be, is not in this life to be expected.
~John Owen~

This understanding of Owen's dovetails nicely with another quote that was posted today by Scott Clark's at The Heidelblog, that of another old guy - Caspar Olevianus:
The Son of God, having been appointed by God as Mediator of the covenant, becomes the guarantor on two counts: 1) He shall satisfy for the sins of all those whom the Father has given him; 2) He shall also bring it to pass that they, being planted in him, shall enjoy freedom in their consciences and from day to day be renewed in the image of God.
It seems to me that the older reformed writers were quite comfortable with the idea that Christians, who seek to live godly lives, still continue to sin. One of their main concerns appears to be with clearly communicating the benefits of the gospel, as in the quote above; the provisions of Christ’s work in order to comfort the conscience (wouldn’t need that if sin weren’t a reoccurring reality) and the truth that it is God who sanctifies by His grace. To me, these dual provisions are indispensable, as well as extremely encouraging, given our weaknesses/struggles and given that the law of God is still the moral standard required of God’s people – “Be ye perfect, therefore, even as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matt. 5:48)

“For both he that sanctifieth and they that are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren…” (Heb.2:11)

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