Sin, shame, and the way to the cleansing fountain

Try to understand the loathsomeness of sin with its defiling effects

Try to understand the loathsomeness of sin with its defiling effects and the great danger of not being cleansed from sin (Rev. 3:16-18). Search the Scriptures and consider seriously what it teaches about our condition after we lost the image and likeness of God (Psalms 53:3). He who has received the testimony of Scripture about his polluted state will try and find the reason for it. He will search out his own sores and cry out, ‘Unclean! Unclean!’

Pray too for light and guidance about your pollution and how to deal with it.imagesCASHQ1T1

Natural light is not enough to know the depth of your depravity (Romans 2: 14, 15).

To be purged from the pollution of sin, we must be ashamed of the filth of sin (Ezra 9:6; Jer. 3:25). There are two sorts of shame. There is legal shame which is produced by a legal conviction of sin. For example, Adam, after his fall, felt a shame which led to fear and terror. So he ran and hid from God. There is also evangelical shame which arises from a sense of the vileness of sin and the riches of God’s grace in pardoning and purifying us from it (Ezekiel 16:60-63; Romans 6:21).

Sadly, however, many are completely insensitive to their true condition. They are more ashamed about how they stand in the eyes of men than how their hearts appear in the sight of God. Some are pure in their own eyes (Proverbs 30:12), e.g., the Pharisees (Isaiah 65:4,5). Others even openly boast of their shame and sin. They proclaim their sins like Sodom (Isaiah 3:9; Jeremiah 6:15; 8:12) and not only boast of their own sins, but approve of and delight in those who also sin like them (Romans 1:32).

Our duty to understand God ‘s way of cleansing

The importance of this duty is taught us by God himself. The legal institutions of the Old Testament show us the importance of this duty, for every sacrifice had something in it for purifying from uncleanness. The greatest promises in the Old Testament focus on cleansing from sin (e.g., Ezekiel 36:25, 29). In the gospel, the greatest of our needs is shown to be the need of being cleansed from sin.

The cleansing power of the blood of Christ and the Spirit’s application of that blood to our hearts is presented to us in the covenant promises (2 Peter 1:4). The only way to enjoy personally the good things presented in the promises is by faith (Hebrews 4:2; 11:17; Romans 4:19-21; 10:6-9).

Two things make such faith effectual.

JesusCuresThe first is the excellence of the grace or duty itself. Faith discards all other ways of cleansing. It gives all glory to God for his power, faithfulness, goodness and grace in spite of all difficulties and oppositions.

[Second,] Faith glorifies God’s wisdom for working out this way for us to be cleansed. It glorifies God’s infinite grace in providing this fountain for all uncleanness when we were lost and under his curse. Thus we are united to Christ from whom alone comes all our cleansing.

by John Owen

Meet the author:  John Owen (1616 – 24 August 1683) was an English Nonconformist church leader, theologian, and academic administrator at the University of Oxford.  A Puritan by upbringing, in 1637 Owen was driven from Oxford by Laud’s new statutes, and became chaplain and tutor in the family of Sir Robert Dormer and then in that of Lord Lovelace. At the outbreak of the English Civil War he sided with the parliament, and thus lost both his place and the prospects of succeeding to his Welsh Royalist uncle’s fortune.

For a while he lived in Charterhouse Yard, troubled by religious questions. His doubts were removed by a sermon preached by a stranger in Aldermanbury Chapel where he had gone intending to hear Edmund Calamy the Elder.

In 1644, Owen married Mary Rooke (d. 1675). The couple had 11 children, ten of whom died in infancy. One daughter survived to adulthood, married, and shortly thereafter died of consumption.
A sermon preached on a plea for sincerity of religion in high places, won not only the thanks of parliament but the friendship of Oliver Cromwell, who took Owen to Ireland as his chaplain, that he might regulate the affairs of Trinity College, Dublin. He pleaded with the House of Commons for the religious needs of Ireland as some years earlier he had pleaded for those of Wales. In 1650 he accompanied Cromwell on his Scottish campaign.

In March 1651, Cromwell, as Chancellor of Oxford University, gave him the deanery of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford,[1][2] and made him Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University in September 1652;[3] in both offices he succeeded the Presbyterian, Edward Reynolds.  While little encouragement was given to a spirit of free inquiry, Puritanism at Oxford was not simply an attempt to force education and culture into “the leaden moulds of Calvinistic theology.” Owen, unlike many of his contemporaries, was more interested in the New Testament than in the Old.

In 1658 he took a leading part in the conference of Independents which drew up the Savoy Declaration (the doctrinal standard of Congregationalism which was based upon the Westminster Confession of Faith).

In 1663, Owen was invited by the Congregational churches in Boston, Massachusetts, to become their minister, but declined.  In 1669, Owen wrote a spirited remonstrance to the Congregationalists in New England, who, under the influence of Presbyterianism, had shown themselves persecutors. At home, too, he was busy in the same cause.

On the revival of the Conventicle Acts in 1670, Owen was appointed to draw up a paper of reasons which was submitted to the House of Lords in protest. In this or the following year Harvard College invited him to become its president; he received similar invitations from some of the Dutch universities.  Owen was one of the first preachers at the weekly lectures which the Independents and Presbyterians jointly held at Princes’ Hall in Broad Street. He was respected by many of the nobility, and during 1674 both King Charles II and his brother King James II assured him of their good wishes to the dissenters. Charles gave him 1000 guineas to relieve those on whom the severe laws had pressed, and he was able to procure the release of John Bunyan, whose preaching he admired.  Excerpts taken from Wikipedia

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