I'm not all that great at writing, but I enjoy "thinking out loud" in written form. Sometimes I even change my own mind after reading what I've written! Other times I like what I say. I hope that you find something here to inspire you, to encourage you, to make you smile, or to make you think.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Oboe True Confessions

Okay, so I did a newby kind of really embarassing thing last Saturday. It was something that I have told students, even, to never do. It's sick 'em in oboe cleaning.

You see, the top of the upper joint of the oboe is quite narrow. You have to run a kind of thin silk swab that is sown onto a strong string with a weight at the end through the bore of the instrument. It's a bit tricky, since if you're not careful or if the swab is too thick, it will get stuck.

The oboe bore is conical shaped. Anyway, I've never gotten a swab stuck. Ever. Until last Saturday.

It was really stuck. I had pulled really, really hard to get it through. Oh, my!  Did I ever feel dumb.

I hadn't realized that the bore of the oboe d'Amore was even smaller at the very top than the regular oboe. The swab I use for my oboe is too large for the d'Amore. Duh!

So, on Monday I went into the local music store, and rather sheepishly confessed my transgression. The technician was in and was able to quickly get the piece of swab out. He told me that it was really jammed in there.

I knew that already. Anyway, d'Amore back in service. After Christmas, I'll take her in for a tune up. It's now broken in.  He'll check it all over to make any adjustments that may be needed.  Some of the notes aren't quite right pitch and response wise.  It can't all be me or the reeds. Honestly, it can't!

Sunday I hope to debut the instrument for communion music at our church. We shall see. I'll play my regular oboe for worship as well.

I love this.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Oboe D'Amore Update

Something very exciting arrived today. Well, I suppose not everyone would find it all that exciting, but I do. It's this!

Da L'opera Omnia Di J. S. Bach (Tuttii "Soli-duetti-trii E Passi Tecnici" Per Oboe, Oboe D'amore, Oboe Da Caccia, Taille (II Volume))

Very cool.  It's from Milan. This volume has oboe, oboe d'Amore, and English Horn parts to the Christmas Oratorio, the Easter Oratorio, and a bunch of other things. Fun. 

Bach was very kind to the oboe, all of them.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Oboe Update

Well, I did a crazy thing last month. I purchased an oboe d'Amore.

What do I want to do with it? Well, try to tame it in the first place. There's the breathing issue and the reed issue and the fingers issue and all that.

I suffer from asthma, so a few years ago when I purchased a new oboe, I needed one that was free blowing and reeds that were kind of soft. Reed making was never my favorite thing to do, so I talked to a fellow oboe player who was also trying to return to the instrument. She was suffering from lyme disease. Because of her physical limitations, she had started to use ready made reeds and had purchased an oboe that was easier to play than her Loree from when she was actively playing.

I thought that was a great idea, given the amount of time as well as the amount of money I had to invest in reeds. Reedmaking takes about half of an oboe players time, and I wanted to just play and not whittle so much. I still have to adjust the reeds, but that's not so bad.

The Fox 300 I purchased is an asthmatic's dream oboe. Yes, you lose some projection and richness,  but it sounds very nice. It has all the bells and whistles of any professional oboe. Also, I don't have to worry about it cracking, like my old oboe did.

Now the d'Amore is a different animal, but not too different. My asthma is much better than it was a few years ago. Our little Cocker Spaniel, Sam, has been gone about 3 years, now. Our parakeets died a year or so ago. So, we are pet free. They were our daughter's pets, but all parents know how that goes. I made some other changes in bedding and stuff like that, and it has made a huge difference.

So, I thought maybe I could fill up a larger oboe made of Grenadilla. Man, I have to work hard to build up stamina - which is a good thing. It's coming along, but that part surprised me. I never had problems with the English Horn when I played it in college, but that was how long ago, now?

This is very good for me in so many ways.

I may have to break down and start making my own.  The reeds I purchased for the d'Amore are not very well made. I have to practically remake them anyway. We shall see.

Of course, for an oboe player, it's always the reed, the reed, the reed... :-)  What a bunch of whiners we are!

Stubborn little things. They have to learn new positions, but not new fingerings. Old dogs always have trouble learning new tricks, but my sisu will prevail.

Sisu is what makes Finns sit in a hot sauna and then go jump in a frozen lake. So, it makes us do crazy things.

"Sisu is a Finnish word generally meaning determination, bravery, and resilience."
- Wikkipedia

My goal with all of this?  Okay, so now comes the really weird part. I want to play Gospel blues oboe. My muse is Mahalia Jackson. 

Also, I have been playing my regular oboe in the worship team at our church. I love that, since I get to improvise my own parts. It's getting so I don't really need the lead sheet, so I am slowly weaning myself away from the printed page. Of course, the worship songs are straight, so it is easier for me to get into it.

The blues are a different genre, of course. We shall see. I'm trying to record something every day on Sound Cloud. That keeps me motivated. Also, I can check my progress. 

Another thing I want to do is learn the d'Amore parts to Bach's works. A book is coming in the mail and is supposed to arrive on Christmas Eve. 

Never too late to dream new dreams and try new things. You never know where they may lead. 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014


Okay, so my oboe and I have kind of an off again, on again relationship - a bit like a rocky love affair. Right now it's on.

We have a few gigs coming up - 1,) the wedding of the sister of our son-in-law; 2.) a Christmas program at a large church in the neighboring town. That involves a real orchestra my husband and I get to play in. Rehearsals start some time this month. ; 3.) some communion music for our church; 4.) and I get to play my oboe in the worship band at church - which is a bit odd, since I play along with keyboard, drum, vocalists, keyboard, and electric guitars. I call it a rock band, but my daughter reminds me it just worship music. No matter. I'm very excited - too excited, actually - about being able to play my oboe in a rock band. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it. Hey, if it involves drums and electric guitars, it has to be a rock band, right?

I'm also thinking of calling my old jazz teacher for some lessons. Well, actually he was our daughter's tenor sax teacher when she was in high school, and I took about a month's worth of lessons from him. He even had me play in one of his recitals. So, I learned K.C. Blues out of the Charlie Parker Omnibook and played it. Of course, his other students were all kids, but hey!  He told me it sounded hip - and then we giggled. He even wanted to learn oboe himself, since he thought it was well-suited for jazz.

I got my oboe overhauled. I got new reeds. I got my Charlie Parker Omnibook. I also got my Bach b Minor Mass and pretend that the continuo is an electric bass guitar.  I'm gonna' give Dave a call. Well, at least I'll have fun with this. It's good to try new things.

Maybe I'll get an English Horn. It might be better suited to jazz, even.

My daughter mocks me and is not impressed.  Meh.

Repost - Self-Forgiveness and Joyce Meyer - Religion of Personal Power vs. The True Gospel - 5

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Religion of Personal Power vs. The True Gospel - 5

I wrote earlier about how one popular Word of Faith teacher, Joyce Meyer, teaches that the Holy Spirit told her to forgive herself.  [This was in a video that can be found on You Tube, but I won't post it here.] That is a problem, since 1.)  the Holy Spirit did not include that teaching in the Bible that He inspired 2.)  this concept is from a  self-esteem philosophy, and not from the Gospel of grace 3.) if I reject what allegedly the Spirit showed her, am I sinning if I do not practice self-forgiveness?

If God really did tell her that she needed to forgive herself, and really told her to tell that message to others so they also could gain release by forgiving themselves, then shouldn't we add that to the Bible?  At the very least, we should practice it just in case the Holy Spirit really did speak to her in the way she says.

Now, I am sure that Mrs. Meyers does not want to put her words into the Bible. She accepts the Bible as God's Word.  I am also sure that she has not thought through the implications of saying that the Holy Spirit told her to do something so that she would be able to let go of her guilt and shame over what she had done.

It wasn't anything really terrible that she had done, but she felt that she had failed as a mother for her oldest son. I think that they were able to work through their relationship issues since this son works in his mother's ministry.  So, I am happy to know that.  I have no doubt that God has worked in Joyce's life.  The problem I see is  this idea that the Holy Spirit told her she had to forgive herself so she could get over, and find release for her feelings of guilt and shame about how she had been kind of harsh with him as a boy. 

I could mention that true repentance does not include any kind of self-justification or minimization of one's sinful behavior. Could it be that Joyce's was an incomplete repentance, and that is why this continued to bother her?  Just 'fess up, ask God's forgiveness, and move on. Maybe the 'fessing up was not complete, so that is why her conscience was uneasy. Of course, I am speculating and may even be guilty of self-righteous judging. However, I know myself and know how hard it is, especially for a mother, to admit to having failed. 

For me, a simple, "God have mercy on me, the sinner!" generally gives my mind peace. Of course, I apologize to my daughter if I have offended her. It is important for parents to admit  failings.

If we are supposed to forgive ourselves for something we did, then aren't we really saying that we offended or sinned against ourselves? That would put us in a strange position, it seems to me. When the Bible talks about forgiveness it means forgiveness for breaking God's holy law. Sin is an offense against the holiness of God, and it is God who does the forgiving.

How does self-forgiveness work, then? I offend myself, and so I need to forgive myself. It doesn't make sense to me that the Holy Spirit would care how much we offend ourselves, or how much we apologize and ask forgiveness of ourselves. That has nothing to do with Him. It would just be a kind of narcissistic, even dissociative psychological exercise it seems to me. It would be like saying that the person is so important that they can not only offend others but also themselves. The person may even have godlike powers.

I am reminded of the quote, "I said to myself, self, we're pretty awesome!" How about this? "I said to myself, self, I forgive you for being a terrible mother."  It makes no sense. So, in order to give this little "I forgive myself" some weight, I would have to bring in some inner voice and call it God, the Holy Spirit who told me to forgive myself. Be careful to call the voices inside your head by the name of the Holy Spirit, especially if no such teaching can be found in the Bible.

Here are some Scriptures that tell us what we are really supposed to do about our guilt and shame.  I don't see any hint of self-forgiveness in these passages. I guess I could force a meaning onto the text something like since we are supposed to forgive others when they sin against us, then why not also forgive ourselves when we sin against ourselves. It is a bit of a stretch to arrive at that conclusion based on what the Bible teaches about forgiveness.

Look at Psalm 51, David's great confession after he sinned with Bathsheba and then arranged to have her husband killed.  Really bad sinful behavior, obviously. Notice what he does after he was confronted by the prophet because of his sin.  He admits to God exactly what he has done that was sinful.  He honestly confesses his sin to God directly.  He makes the appropriate sacrifices.  - not only a burnt offering as prescribed by Jewish law, but the sacrifices of a broken and contrite heart.  He asks for  cleansing from his sin, as well as for a renewed, right spirit, a clean heart.  There is no mention of self-forgiveness. It is all about God's forgiveness towards him.

Then look at the Lord's Prayer. Again, there is no mention of self-forgiveness.  We are to forgive others as we have been forgiven.  It is appropriate to forgive others.  God freely forgives us when we trust in Christ for that gift,  and we need to pass that gift along, so to speak.  As He has forgiven us, we are to forgive others.

God forgives us if we confess our sin to Him.  1 John 1:1-2:2 teaches us about confession of sin, God's faithfulness to hear us and forgive us, and Jesus Christ's ongoing ministry of defending our cause before God, the Righteous Judge.  Again, there is no mention of self-forgiveness.

If we are supposed to forgive ourselves in order to be freed spiritually from some kind of bondage, then these three major passages that teach us about forgiveness - among other things - have left out an important truth.  Maybe the fact is, self-forgiveness has nothing to do with God's forgiveness or His pleasure in us.  God's pleasure for us is always related to what Christ did on the cross for us, and not what we do for ourselves.

Again, in a kind of psychological way it may be helpful to do something akin to forgiving ourselves.  However, it has no spiritual power to free us from anything.  It is one more "thing" that has been added to the Gospel.  It sounds good, but it's just not in Scripture.

The Scriptural pattern is simple.  We do something wrong.  IOW, we sin.  We admit our sin to God. We ask Him to forgive us because Jesus died to pay the price for our sin.  We can be forgiven.  We ask in faith for Him to do just that - forgive us our sins just as we forgive others when they sin against us. We trust Him to keep His word.  Not complicated. It involves trust, not ritual or pop psychology. I believe God. I believe that He will forgive me if I am contrite of heart and simply ask for this favor.

Also, if we have offended someone, we may need to make restitution. How would we be able to make restitution to ourselves? Buy ourselves some chocolate? That appeals to me, but I would not call it self-restitution.

Then, if I do not forgive myself in the way that the Holy Spirit allegedly told Joyce Meyer to do, then am I guilty of sin? Do you see what I am driving at?

Please understand that I have nothing personal against Joyce Meyers. It's just that when someone says that the Holy Spirit told them something, they need to be able to back it up with Scripture. Otherwise, be careful not to deify the voices inside one's head.

Psalm 51

English Standard Version (ESV)

Create in Me a Clean Heart, O God

To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet went to him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba.

51 Have mercy on me,[a] O God,
    according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
    blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
    and cleanse me from my sin!
For I know my transgressions,
    and my sin is ever before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned
    and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you may be justified in your words
    and blameless in your judgment.
Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
    and in sin did my mother conceive me.
Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being,
    and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.
Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
    wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness;
    let the bones that you have broken rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins,
    and blot out all my iniquities.
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God,
    and renew a right[b] spirit within me.
11 Cast me not away from your presence,
    and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
    and uphold me with a willing spirit.
13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
    and sinners will return to you.
14 Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God,
    God of my salvation,
    and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness.
15 O Lord, open my lips,
    and my mouth will declare your praise.
16 For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it;
    you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.
17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
    a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
18 Do good to Zion in your good pleasure;
    build up the walls of Jerusalem;
19 then will you delight in right sacrifices,
    in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings;
    then bulls will be offered on your altar.
Matthew 6 - The Lord's Prayer

“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
10 Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
    on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread,
12 and forgive us our debts,
    as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
    but deliver us from evil.

1 John 1-2:2
English Standard Version (ESV)

The Word of Life

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon andhave touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our[a] joy may be complete.

Walking in the Light

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

Christ Our Advocate

My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.

Monday, April 14, 2014

John Owen - Part 3 - Of the Mortification of Sin in Believers

Now, John Owen is a little hard to follow because of the language.  He was writing in the 1st half of the 17th Century.  That puts him before our American Revolution, and almost before the landing at Plymouth Rock by the Pilgirms in 1620.

Also, he is a little hard to follow because of his economy of words. Each sentence is full of meaning, so he should not be skimmed over like we can do with the vast majority of books written now in the 21st Century.

Besides, this is not a book that both Christian and non-Christian will appreciate or understand at all.  He is talking about the Biblical subject of killing sin, which even Christians have a hard time facing.  Owen deals with all of the ways that we as human beings have of hiding, rationalizing, excusing, justifying our sin, and so forth. Owen knew his own heart and tendencies very well, and he is really sharing from his own experience as well as from the experiences of his congregation.

It would do us all well to take time to read this little book - just over 100 pages.

Here is one quote about the work of the Holy Spirit in the mortification of sin in believers. It is from pg. 100 of the PDF file found here. 

 "And this is the first thing that the Spirit does in order to 
 the mortification of any lust whatever, -- it convinces the soul of all 
 the evil of it, cuts off all its pleas, discovers all its deceits, 
 stops all its evasions, answers its pretences, makes the soul own its 
 abomination, and lie down under the sense of it. Unless this be done 
 all that follows is in vain. "

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Killing Sin - Like a Change of Clothes - John Owen - part 2

Colossians 3
12 Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience,

So, when we put off all the sinful "stuff" that Paul lists earlier in Colossians 3, then we are ready to put on Christ. We are not left uncovered. That is, we don't just remove the bad stuff, we put on the good stuff. 

Again, Paul reminds us that all of this putting off and putting on is in the context of a relationship with God. This is what God chose us for. This is what He wants to do in our lives, with our co-operation.  

He wants us to take off the sinful things so He can clothe us with beautiful things. We may think that we look just fine in the old clothes of our sin.  Actually, we don't. We don't even look good to others, let alone to God. 

If we are going around sinning sexually and being greedy, we don't look good.  Some are able to hide their sin better, but we all have it lurking in the deep recesses of our souls. 

Notice that we are holy and beloved if we know Christ.  That should give us both comfort and motivation.  Since we are holy and beloved, we are motivated to put on the beautiful clothing that God has for us. 

Compassionate hearts:
Since we know our own struggles with sin, we should be compassionate.  I know that we Christians don't always show this, but please remember. Whenever there is a tragedy anywhere in the world, Christians are the first responders.  We are a compassionate people. Even Christian groups that I do not agree with show compassion in many ways. This is a characteristic of Christianity.  

We have see it in the recent slide here in Western Washington in Oso.  All kinds of Christian groups and churches have responded with compassion. 

Yes, government agencies have done the biggest part of the work, and we are all grateful for their sacrifices.  It is not just Christians who have responded, but Christians have responded with compassionate hearts. 

13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 

14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 

15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 

16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs,with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 

17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

This section is really, really clear.  This is the Christian's reward for putting off the old junk in our lives. 

Here's a list:
Love, peace, thankfulness, the word of Christ in you richly, part of a larger group in the body of Christ, you're not alone anymore, wisdom, admonishment in a loving community, music!, heartfelt gratitude to God, purpose in life as we do all in the name of the Lord Jesus.  We are part of a family that extends beyond the walls of our  own congregation. 

Killing Sin - Like a Change of Clothes - John Owen

Colossians 3

1 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.

The Apostle Paul, here, is talking to Christians.  Being raised with Christ refers to the new birth, or regeneration, or the new life we have in Christ. There are a number of Biblical terms that are used to show how a person who believes in Christ from the heart is no longer the same person they were before.  They have entered into a new kind of living, so this new life should show on the outside in what a person does, says, and thinks. 

Regeneration is the new birth.  Conversion is the change of life that follows new birth. If there is no change, then there probably has been no new birth either.  

We tell children that God gives us a new "want to" after we are born again.  Where before we just wanted to do whatever we wanted to do, we now want to love, obey, and follow Jesus.  

Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 

We still live on this earth, but our heart setting is now on heavenly things.  

For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 

We continue to live here, but our old way of life died.  This has to do with what is called  our identification with Christ. Christ died for our sins. Our sins were nailed to the cross as it were.  So, in a sense, we died with Christ on the cross.  Our new life is hidden with Christ in God. That is a very safe and secure place to be.  The things of this world come and go, but our safe place in Him stays the same throughout all eternity. 

Meanwhile, we are still on the earth. How are we supposed to live down here, then?

When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

This is our hope, and it is a done deal, a sure thing.  Christ will return one day just as He promised.  You can read about that in Acts 1. At that point, we will enter into His presence.  Remember, the idea of glory has to do with His abiding presence.  We will be in His presence forever, then. 

It is common for people to say things like, "My husband is my life" or "My wife is my life" or "My children are my life."  That means that they are precious to us, the most important of relationships in our lives. 

For a believer, Christ is our life. He is the most precious person in our lives.  We could lose everything and everyone else, but we can never lose Christ. He is God's abiding presence in us through the Holy Spirit.  What a wonderful comfort and hope! 
Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 

In light of the fact that Christ is our life and our life is hidden in Christ with God and we are raised to new life in Christ, we need to get rid of the things that used to fill up our days and thoughts.  Here are some of the things that we must put to death. 

Sexual immorality, impurity, passion:
This is a polite way of saying all kinds of sexual sin.  Paul did not have to spell it out for people. In fact, we probably don't need it spelled out in our day.  It especially has to do with satisfying sexual desires outside the bond of marriage. 

There are many good books written from a Christian perspective on the subject of marriage and sex within marriage.  Paul here is specifically addressing prohibited sexual activity. 

The Old Testament Law does go into more detail on that subject if you care to look into it more to see what the Bible prohibits and what the Bible allows.  Many Christians would prohibit things that are not prohibited in the Bible. Many Christians have been very uncomfortable with the Song of Solomon as well.  Anyway, sex is not sin in and of itself.  It is the improper use of this gift that Paul is talking about here. 

We might be okay in the area of sexual sin - though that is unlikely - , but what about wanting things you cannot have?  That hits close to home.  There are legitimate needs that we have.  This is a struggle that hits very close to home for all of us. 

Covetousness is especially bad when it makes people envious of what others have. The Bible talks a lot about trusting God to supply our needs and about being content with what we have.  It also talks about not being so content that we quit working or quit caring for our families.  There are legitimate needs.  There are also times that God gives us things that we don't really need, but that we just want. He is a good Father.  Balance in life is hard to achieve. 

So, be content, work for what you need, be grateful, and be generous?  I would think that those  things would go a long way to killing covetousness. 

On account of these the wrath of God is coming.

Strong warning, and motivation to quit sinning in these areas.  These things are especially a slap in the fact to God.  

 In these you too once walked, when you were living in them.But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. 

Wow!  If we weren't shaken up by the other list, this one will get us for sure.  Remember, this passage begins with regeneration and the work of the Spirit in our lives.  We put these things off so we can put on Christ.  

It is like changing clothes, it seems to me. I'm sure I've heard that somewhere.  

Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.

this is pretty clear.  We were created originally in the image of God. 
(Genesis 1)   So, the new birth is the beginning of a renewal and restoration of that image in us.  I think of it like a painting that has been ruined. The Artist takes the painting and begins to restore it to what it was supposed to be in the first place.  

He is making something beautiful.  I am reminded of an old Gospel song by the Gaithers.  Something Beautiful. 

11 Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.

In Christ, all the things that separate one believer from another are "fixed".  

I'll deal with the rest of the passage later.  

Friday, April 4, 2014

Killing Sin - John Owen on the Work of the Holy Spirit

 Now on to John Owen.  He was a Puritan pastor and author of great theological works.  He was also a contemporary of John Bunyan.  His writings are kind of hard to understand since the English language has changed so much from his time to ours.

He wrote a little book called On the Mortification of Sin in Believers. Now, that is kind of a scary title, and the books is kind of scary as well.  In fact, since this is my blog and I'm not a scholar, nor do I write all that well, I will take the liberty of correcting John Owen!  Well, I know that's pretty cheeky, but he is not here to defend himself. My mind is not always very organized all the time, so please bear with me - or not.

Notice that this little treatise was written for Christians.  People who are not Christians may not understand.  I will probably post more about this book.  You see, we are told to kill sin in our lives.  There are many wrong ways to go about this, ways that lead to legalism and despair.  If done the right way, the killing of sin in our lives leads to peace and relief.  Even more important, it leads to a wonderful walk with God and a deep friendship with Him.  So, it is very important for believers to understand how to properly kill sin in our lives.

Sin is an enemy that will destroy us.  We either kill it, or it kills us. The old word for kill was "mortify", as in dealing it a mortal wound.  Here are two passages from the King James Version of the Bible that talk about this kind of mortification.  It basically means to quit doing sinful things.

Romans 8:13
For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.

Colossians 3:5
Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:

Okay, so here goes.  I think he wrote the book backwards. I mean, I think that the best part is at the end. If a person does not make it to the end of his little book because of despair over their sinfulness, then that is a shame. So if you read it, read the last chapter first, then the penultimate chapter, then go to the beginning and read the whole book.  I wish I'd done it that way.

Here is the outline of the last chapter. The idea of mortifying sin has to do with killing sin in our lives. That is, we quit sinning.  You may say that you are tired of people telling you what to do and what not to do. I have to say that I am, too.

So, killing sin is different from being told by people what you can and cannot do.  Often people are telling you to stop things that aren't even sinful. Often people prohibit things that in and of themselves are not sin.  Often people believe themselves to be the Holy Spirit in your life.

 Notice how the Spirit works.  He works from the inside out, convincing us not only of the evil and guilt of our sin, but of its dangers. Also, the Spirit leads us to the One that can give us relief - Jesus Christ.

So, read about the work of the Spirit in the heart of the believer. Avoid those who wish to play Holy Spirit in your life. Avoid those who promise that if you submit to them, then you will have relief.  There are a lot of people like that out there.

Run from them!

Also, avoid those  who would tell you that there is no such thing as sin, so do whatever you want to do. There are no consequences. It's all good.

Run from them as well!

Run to God and fine grace to help in time of need.

Here is the outline of chapter 14 of John Owen's work.  The book can be found online in several places. I own a hard copy of the book - it is only about 100 pages long.  I also own an iTunes download of it.

Here he shows, with Scriptural support, that a person does not have to do this all on his or her own.  The sweet Holy Spirit of God does this work in us as we co-operate with Him.  Of course we are not passive observers in the process that is called sanctification. God has given us means that we can use - such as prayer, church attendance, confession of sin, singing, worship, praise, making better choices, and even all kinds of positive activities to replace the old habits that lead to death.

Remember that this whole work of mortifying sin is effected, carried on, accomplished by the power of the Spirit, in all its parts and degrees. 

a. The Spirit alone convinces the heart of the evil and guilt and danger of the sin to be mortified. And this is the first thing the Spirit does in order to move us to mortification: convince our soul of the evil of it. 

b. The Spirit alone reveals to us the fullness of Christ for our relief (1 Cor 2:8). 

c. The Spirit alone establishes an expectation of relief from Christ (2 Cor 1:21). 

d. The Spirit alone brings the cross of Christ into our hearts with its sin-killing power; for by the Spirit we are baptized into the death of Christ. 

e. The Spirit alone is the author and finisher of our sanctification; He gives us grace to strive for holiness. 

f. The Spirit supports and empowers our appeals to God (Romans 8:26).