John Owen, The Mortification of Sin, Chapter 12

20 10 2009

Summary of Chapter 12:

In Chapter 12, Owen shares his eighth particular direction for the mortification of sin in our lives: 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. First of all, we are to do so by being “much in thoughtfulness of the excellency of the majesty of God and your infinite, inconceivable, distance from Him.” Whenever we do, it leads to a deep sense of humiliation. The second meditation flows from the first: “Think much of your unacquiantedness with him.” How little even the wisest of believers knows of His infinite greatness. And the reason is two-fold. First of all, God has not chosen to reveal all of Himself to mankind. God is by nature invisible and incomprehensible to the mortal mind. Second of all, we know so little because it is faith alone through which one is able to know Him, and faith by definition is the acknowledgement of “things not seen.” Meditating upon the “inconceivable greatness of God” and the “infinite distance” that separates Him from His creation should “fill the soul with a holy and awful fear of Him, so as to keep it in a frame unsuited to the thriving or flourishing of any lust whatsoever…”

Possible Discussion Points:

1) I have spoken with some who use the fact that God is inconceivable to excuse their lack of seeking deep knowledge about Him. How do we counsel such people?

2) What are some of the specific things about the Lord that we know today in a much clearer way than those who lived in OT times? What should the results be of that advantage?


In the discussion of each chapter I have included a short summary of its content and some possible discussion points. Feel free to discuss whatever you want within the chapter though. So that our discussion has some organization, please identify the discussion point. For instance, if you are planning on posting a thought on the third discussion point, begin your post with “d. 3.” If you wanted to post on your own discussion point, then begin with “d. general.”




2 responses

27 10 2009
Jared Heatherly

D1- This is a great point to bring up. In The Knowledge of the Holy, AW Tozer says that God’s incomprehensibility is His most basic attribute. When I begin to get overwhelmed with God in my devotions and study, I know that I am where I should be. Owen refers to many verses on this subject. The best that I have been able to do with those who use this as an excuse for laziness and self-satisfaction is to direct their attention to such passages.

General- I really appreciated what he said about our progress in knowing God being more in knowing what He is not rather than what He is, and what He does rather than what He is. My failure to know God is normally linked to trying to understand deity in terms of fallen humanity. As he says, this is symptomatic of little faith.

I loved the way he ended the chapter. “The intendment of all gospel revelation is, not to unveil God’s essential glory, that we should see him as he is, but merely to declare so much of him as he knows sufficient to be a bottom of our faith, love, obedience, and coming to him…

10 12 2009

D2) Something hidden from OT times was Christ’s love for the church (Eph 5:25). Unfortunately, we don’t love His church as He loves it, nor do we have the self-sacrificial love for our wives as we ought.

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