That We Be Not Mistaken

In Chapter Five of The Mortification of Sin, John Owen bends over backward to delineate for his readers what mortification of sin is NOT, the better for us to recognize it for what it is:  a miracle of grace.  This seemed like a good place to pause for a review of the content up to this point.  Pardon the places where this post loses poetic traction and slides into the ditch of doggerel, but doesn’t the discipline of rhyme and meter  force you to really think about what you are trying to communicate?

“Put sin to death,” says Romans 8.

“By Spirit’s power, don’t hesitate,

“And you will live.”  It’s God’s command

Declared by Paul with pen in hand.

John Owen, taking up his quill,

Exhorts that the believer will

Make this his daily task to do:

Be killing sin lest it kill you.

With stony heart by Spirit taken,

Grace abounds, sin is forsaken.

Take the Spirit’s comfort, vigor —

Gifts of mortifying rigor.

Truth be told, it’s God’s largesse

That uproots darkness and weakness.

Now, lest one think, “The dragon’s slain

And never to be seen again!” —

Remember St. Paul’s anguished cries,

“I do the evil I despise!”

Hypocrisy (or hiding well)

Is just a safer path to hell,

For sin has not been killed a whit

Nor holiness increased a bit.

A temperament sweet and sedate,

Though pleasant still does not equate

With mortified iniquity.

His heart may still a cesspool be!

Nor does the soul who (finding pride

No longer serves her) turns aside

To worldliness or vanity —

New masters do not make one free.

Amidst afflictions and distress,

The oft-resulting righteousness

That follows sin’s heinous eruption

Is likely just a brief disruption:

Cat and mouse, legerdemain,

While sinful habits still remain.

Thus, Brother Owen clarifies

Mortification by the lies

The hapless saint may swallow whole,

Sadly deceived in mind and soul.

5 thoughts on “That We Be Not Mistaken”

  1. Terrific Michele! I’ve appreciated your notes over at; thoughtful and considerate (in all that those words convey). This poem is a great example of delighting oneself in the things of God and of growing in understanding and grace by chewing on and meditating on the things one is learning and reviewing. My favorite line in your well-phrased rhyme is “Hypocrisy (or hiding well) Is just a safer path to hell.”

    We’ll be waiting for this generation’s “Pilgrim’s Progress” from your keyboard someday. : )

    Great job, well worth sharing.


  2. Wow! Amazing job! This really captures it in a poetic nutshell. Thanks for sharing it. I liked this line: Amidst afflictions and distress,

    The oft-resulting righteousness

    That follows sin’s heinous eruption

    Is likely just a brief disruption…

    This was a particularly convicting and valuable chapter for me.


    1. Yes, this was a great chapter. Thanks for your kind words and for letting me know what you liked about the poem. I love the discipline that meter and rhyme impose on my scattered brain. Wish there were more hours in the day for such things.


  3. Thank you for your positive input. I enjoyed every minute of ruminating over this chapter . . . except that it is so convicting. We never seem to learn the balance between boot straps and grace in the Christian life.


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