In Chapter X of John Owen’s The Mortification of Sin, he urges his readers toward a “clear sense” of:
1. The guilt of sin — “It is one of the deceits of a prevailing lust to extenuate its own guilt.”
2. The danger of sin — “Of being hardened by deceitfulness; . . . of some great temporal correction; of loss of peace and strength; . . .of eternal destruction.”
3. The evil of sin — “Danger respects what is to come; evil, what is present.” By this, Owen is referring to the unseen affects of sin in the Godhead and in the sinner’s spiritual endeavors. This third aspect of Owen’s argument caused me to wonder, “How would Chapter X sound if it were framed in words coming straight from the heart of a loving Heavenly Father?” A three-day power outage provided some time for reflection on the matter in the form of this sonnet.
Getting a Clear Sense — A Letter to a Much-loved Child
My child, if you would see sin mortified,
Let Spirit-voice be Nathan to your soul,
Awakening right judgment and clear-eyed
Assessment of your guilt. My grace extol.
Reject the dangerous way of tangled sin.
Accept this comfort: “No condemnation!”
Look on My face, choose peace and strength within,
Proof of the Spirit’s mortification.
Shun evil if My glory you’d reveal
In ministry. A temple undefiled,
A Spirit-habitation with My seal,
Rejoicing to be my obedient child.
Let danger, guilt, the evil of your sin
Cause gospel-tempered trembling within.