“Do you mortify; do you make it your daily work; be always at it whilst you live; cease not a day from this work; be killing sin or sin will be killing you.”
John Owen, Overcoming Sin and Temptation (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway, 2006), p. 50, here is the pdf. This volume is edited by Kapic and Taylor.
The reformed church must always take practical steps to kill sin. Practical steps. I heard a strange word this morning, actionable. Repentance entails actionable, visible change. We, reformed, struggle with this. We are much more given to mental action, not observable. The mind is our specialty, not hands and feet. The 16th Reformation was a seismic shift, mentally. Luther nailed 95 theses; he did not begin a soup kitchen. As a corollary, we who have come to embrace the doctrines of grace, listened and read—or it was a combination of these two—in order to come to a cognitive rest. “Oh, OK. Now I see total depravity.” We wrestled mentally. We are too easily satisified with things like: opening the Word, listening to sermons and participating in a Bible study—we think, therefore we think we repent. Reformation, 99% of the time, is first read and heard, before it is seen.
This is why when we hear of our sin, we wrongly believe that we have repented. When we understand the preacher’s illustration of wrong-doing or doing that is left undone, we believe that we have repented.
Repentance is when the cows come home, not when the cows are thinking about going home.
“Lord, what I just did in this post was mental, give me legs and feet. I want to follow the cows home.”
G. Mark Sumpter