Iron on Iron: Student Ministry Conference

Good morning. It’s been a while since I’ve published anything but sermon notes. I’ve been taking a little hiatus from thinking too much in public for my own sake and for the sake of others. As Ernest P. Worrell used to say, “know what I mean Vern?” If you are old enough to remember that, I salute you!

However, I have the honor of preaching at one of my favorite places on the planet this weekend, Snowbird Wilderness Outfitters, the Iron on Iron Conference.

Below you will find the notes for both of my sessions. Please use these as you need them.

After the conference and audio is posted, I’ll publish the audio and direct you to Snow Bird Wilderness Outfitters webpage so that those of you who could not attend can listen in and study along.

Pray for the Spirit’s work in every one of his people this weekend and that Jeff Martin and I would be faithful to the Word.


Personal Discipleship 

SWO Iron on Iron

The gospel of the kingdom makes disciples. Romans 1:16.

This good news of Jesus’ and his kingdom is:


There is one God who is the creator of all things, including man created in God’s image. This Triune God (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) is holy, just  and the definition of love.


Though we were once in fellowship with God, we are now cut off from him because of the rebellion started by our parents in the garden. The root of that rebellion was their choice not to believe God and to try and make themselves God instead. This treasonous act failed and the judgment was eternal death.

Terribly and tragically, this rebellion is passed on from generation to generation as a curse, the curse of sin and brokenness and death and all things wrong in created order. Even the dirt is now cursed.

All people inherit both the sin and the judgment. Our sin makes it impossible for us to earn our way back to Father.


Since we can’t earn our way back to Father and out of the curse, God the Father, being rich in mercy and eternal purpose began the work of redeeming us from the curse through revealing himself to man who once knew him face to face. The entire bible records and explains the culmination of that work of redemption in the coming of the ultimate missionary, Jesus, to break the curse and redeem us back to Father and establish his kingdom rule.

Jesus, fully God and fully man, lived perfectly and revealed Father clearly.

In the fullness of time he went to his appointed death on Roman cross as the perfect sacrifice to ransom us from the curse of the fall.  Jesus paid the penalty of our sin and rose from the grave conquering death and proving that all he said and did was true. Through Jesus’ death and resurrection all those who will repent of our sin, believe this good news and follow Jesus have their sin debt cancelled and the very perfection of Jesus accounted to them so that they are adopted as Father’s children.


But that is not the end of the story. All those who repent and believe are given a mission to engage in taking this good news of Jesus’ rule to all nations and telling the good news that Jesus kingdom is being spread over all things and that Jesus is taking back all things from the curse of the fall, including people who will repent and believe, and he is going to return and complete the establishment of his rule in a redone and sin free created order where his people will have Eden regained and face to face fellowship fully restored forever.

That’s our message of the kingdom. 

That powerful message regenerates, transforms and makes disciples.

We are not ashamed of this gospel for it is the power of God for salvation for everyone who’ll believe.

So, if this message makes disciples, what is a disciple?

Knowing what a disciple is determines how we talk about “personal discipleship”.

That’s a great question because Jesus tells us in the mission of the kingdom to make disciples.

What is a disciple?

Matthew 28:16-20

“Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

In keeping with the mandate given in the Great Commission a disciple is someone who has been made a disciple, baptized and is learning to obey everything Jesus taught.

“been made a disciple” – through the proclamation of the good news of the kingdom of Jesus Christ through the verbal proclamation of a disciple of Jesus Christ through the powerful work of the Holy Spirit in the powerful gospel, a dead and counter-gospel enemy of God is reconciled to Father and given the Holy Spirit and thus birthed to new life in the kingdom of God.

“baptized” – baptism is a post-conversion activity in which the transformation of the gospel is recognized by the community of the kingdom (church) by entering into the water to be immersed and brought back up from the water thus putting on display for the public the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus that has been made effective in the death of the candidate’s bond to the curse, the removal of the guilt of sin and their resurrection to new life in Christ.

“learning to obey everything Jesus taught” – the baptized follower of Jesus Christ now begins the journey of life in the community of the kingdom, as a student of the Manual in community (private and public), working out the reality of their salvation and membership in the kingdom of God by engaging their domain of society as salt and light with the powerful gospel among all nations

A disciple is a follower of Jesus Christ who has been taught (by someone) and is continuing to learn (personally) how to follow Jesus.

So, discipleship is what happens when someone preaches the gospel and we respond in saving faith and they teach us how to follow Jesus.

Personal discipleship is our continuing to grow in following Jesus.

Personal discipleship is an ongoing action that will continue until fully sanctified (death) in which we grow in obeying everything Jesus has taught. 

Let me share 4 statements that will sit as “banners” over our unpacking personal discipleship.

  1. Personal discipleship will require our personal discipline.
  2. Personal discipleship will require a life long commitment.
  3. Personal discipleship is something we will have to learn. 
  4. Personal discipleship will be completed at death and even the process of death will be our last lesson in obedience. 

Let’s unpack Personal Discipleship.

Lets look at:

3 Relationships That Make Up Personal Discipleship:


The book of Acts gives us some insight into what disciples of Jesus did and I would argue its worth replicating as our personal discipleship.

In Acts we see this regarding disciples and their following of Jesus:

  1. Holy Spirit being sent by Jesus to fill his individual disciples and walk with them in powerful and present relationship.
  2. Those disciples were enabled to and they did come together into the church and that church began to be diverse (Cornelius and other Gentiles).
  3. That church began to affect domains of society as they made disciples and proclaimed the good news leading all to way to Rome.

Let’s say it like this:

Up: Reconciliation between God and man making children who hear and obey

In: Community of the kingdom is forged and bound by indwelling Holy Spirit in each disciple

Out: Making disciples in one’s domain of society that has global impact

What does personal discipleship look like?

Up: Communion with God

Jesus is the essence of personal discipleship/this is an identity issue/this is a relationship with God issue.

“No amount of skill, giftedness, training or authority is a substitute for being friends with Jesus.” – Jared C. Wilson

Galatians 4:4-7

“But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.”

Ephesians 2:1-7

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

Matthew 7:24-27

Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”

1. We have been reconciled to the Father.

2. We have been transformed from slaves to sons and daughters.

3. We have the indwelling Holy Spirit as our built in Counselor / Guide / Helper.

4. We can relate to God as as son does a good father.

5. We were dead and he made us alive.

6. God raised us up with him and seated us in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.

7. He shows us the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness to us.

8. Because we are alive in Christ we can now hear and obey

We have a real, tangible, alive, interactive and potentially thriving relationship with Father, Son and Holy Spirit!

How do we cultivate this relationship?

1. Learn to hear and obey.

Matthew 7:24-27

Luke 6:46-49 “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord’, and do not do what I say?”

Remember, discipleship is learning to obey everything Jesus taught us.

So, that requires us to be able to hear.

How do we hear?

1a. Scripture reading

Statistics are continuing to show that very few people in the evangelical world are consistently reading Scripture and thus there is a famine of knowing God and his word.

45% of those surveyed say they read the bible more than once per week!

1 in 5 say they never read their bible.

If that is all that are reading Scripture then don’t be surprised if our existence in the faith is dry and devoid of the voice of the Lord.

1b. Holy Spirit counseling, reminding, leading to truth

1c. Prayer (talking to and listening)

1d. Fasting

1e. Silence

1f. Solitude

How do we obey?

1g. Align your priorities with God’s priorities.

1h. Quickly without time to justify not obeying.

2. Deal brutally with sin. (We are going to talk about this in the second talk)

Sin dulls my sensitivity to God’s leading and dulls my ability to know and enjoy his presence.

Romans 8:13 is written to the church not people who claim to be unregenerate.

(Read “Mortification of Sin” by John Owen)

Regenerate and justified followers of Jesus put sin to death as Jesus taught. If you hand offends you, cut it off. If you eye offends you, pluck it out. It’s better to enter life crippled than to go whole into hell (Matthew 5:30ff; 18:ff; Mark 9:43ff).

3. Worship, pray and fast for God’s eyes as the substance of your devotion rather than the public exercise as the substance of your devotion.

Matthew 6:1-6

The most important thing you will do all day is be with the Lord not getting your check list completed.

George Muller found that having his soul at rest in the Lord was the key to being productive. Even if it took the day to get his soul at rest. They would pray all day sometimes as necessary to be at rest. Then they could work in peace.

4. Submit to the authority God has placed over you.

5. Obey Jesus regardless of the cost.

Don’t expect immediate and data friendly results.

Obey and trust that our obedience is part of the master tapestry of Father’s good and providential work not just so we can have some data to build the greatness of our ministry with.

Remember that obedience equals success in the kingdom.

Relationship with God is fully in tact and we are following Jesus. Now what?

In: Community (Community of the Kingdom)

Community is the context for personal discipleship!

There is no such thing and personal discipleship isolated from the church!

Ephesians 2:19-22

“So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens (fellow disciples of Jesus with each other) with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.”

The church as a whole is vital for the Christian not merely some off and on small group meetings.

Covenant church membership is a physical practice of the reality of Ephesians 2:19-22!

Church membership is right and biblical: (the following is taken from 9Marks)

1. The Garden of Eden had an inside and an outside (Gen. 2:8, 3:24).

2. Noah’s ark had an inside and an outside (Gen. 7:16).

3. The people of God in the wilderness had to be ceremonially clean to remain inside the camp and not to be cast outside (Lev. 13:46, Num. 5:3).

4. The nation of Israel was to have an inside and an outside, as represented by food laws, festivals, political boundaries, places of worship, and even strong provisions against inter-marriage (Lev. 11, Lev. 23, Josh. 14-21, 1 Kings 8, Deut. 7:3).

5. In the New Testament, the ethnic and cultural boundary markers of the Old Testament are exploded. But a clear, bright line remains between those who are God’s people and those who are not, as indicated by their profession of faith and the visible fruit of their lives, as well as by the practices of baptism and the Lord’s Supper (Rom. 6:3-4, 1 Cor. 11:17-34, Gal. 3:27). Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are what give substance and shape to a church’s membership. There is an inside (those who have been baptized and are welcomed to the Lord’s table) and an outside (those who are not).

6. In 1 Corinthians 5:12-13 Paul challenges the Corinthian church to judge those who are inside the church and leave judging outsiders to God. How did the Corinthians know who was in and who was out? They knew whom Paul was talking about because some people had formally, publicly identified themselves with the church in Corinth while the rest of the city had not. Those who had were inside the church. They were the church’s members. Those who hadn’t were not.

Engagement in the corporate and scattered body of Christ (gathered for corporate worship and sent to mission centric community) through covenant membership is essential in being a follower of Jesus Christ. 

1. People reconciled to the Father can now be reconciled to each other from all nations and live life together on God’s mission.

2. People in community can and must love each other. (John 15:12)

3. People in community can hear and obey together.

Learning to hear, as part of the “up” relationship, is sharpened in community! As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.

If all we did was gather together and love each other we would be missing the full scope of the mission and, therefore, personal discipleship.

The last part of personal discipleship is…

Out: Collision (Impact your domain of society by making disciples)

Serving one’s domain is the catalyst for personal discipleship!

“There is a church because there is a mission not the other way around.” – Ed Stetzer

2 Corinthians 5:17-21

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

1. Father has given to us the message of reconciliation.

2. Father has given us the message of reconciliation, and it’s a message to the world. So as disciples, we must take what we now know and give it hands and feet.

3. Father has made us all “ambassadors”. Personal discipleship includes being an ambassador of King Jesus and representing him and his agenda well.

4. Father’s mission demands his values come into transformational collision with the values of the curse.

There is nothing like invading the darkness to round out one’s personal discipleship.


What kills personal discipleship?

1. Having “ministry” as our end/goal not knowing and following Jesus.

If we are NOT cultivating our reconciled relationship with Jesus, then what are we really doing in our “ministry”? Nothing but entertaining folks.

The primary task of the disciple is to get proficient at following Jesus and then helping others to follow Jesus (disciple making disciples).

2. Focusing on being a “leader”/“in charge” when one doesn’t know how to follow Jesus much less God ordained authority placed over us.

3. Doing “ministry” that does not include discipling people (local and global) as a core function.

In other words, doing planning, budgeting, retreat taking, worship service planning, calendaring but not actively teaching other people how to follow Jesus.

Men: who are your men?

Women: who are your women?

3. Fear of man rather than fear of God.

4. Not being reconciled with each other. If you want to follow Jesus but are estranged from covenant relationships, then you need to leave your gift at the alter, go be reconciled, and then come and offer your worship.

Put On the New Self: Kill Sin

SWO Iron on Iron

Ephesians 4:17-24

Why should I deal with my sin? Why not just ignore it and tell it all will be ok?

It seems that in our context we have become more comfortable with our sin and even, to some degree, flaunting our sin. I may be the chief of sinners with this.

It’s easy to court our sin, make it our friend, be ok with reverting back to things once delivered from and just toss the obligatory gospel glance at it.

But I have to remember that sin is deadly. Sin is a killer. And sin not only kills the sinner, but it corrupts the spiritual environment of the sinner thus affecting others.

My sin is never isolated to me.

“See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled;” – Hebrews 12:15

Hebrews 12:15 is an exposition of Deuteronomy 29:18-19.

“Beware lest there be among you a man or woman or clan or tribe whose heart is turning away today from the Lord our God to go and serve the gods of those nations. Beware lest there be among you a root bearing poisonous and bitter fruit, one who, when he hears the words of this sworn covenant, blesses himself in his heart, saying, ‘I shall be safe, though I walk in the stubbornness of my heart.’ This will lead to the sweeping away of moist and dry alike.” – Deuteronomy 29:18-19

What do we learn from these passages?

1. The “bitter root” is turning away from the Lord for little “gods”, which are nothing more than allegiances other than Jesus (food, sex, cars, houses, sports, people’s expectations, etc.)

2. Going after little “gods” produces fruit, not of the Spirit, but the fruit of the curse.

3. The fruit of the curse leads to a stubborn heart that fools itself into believing they are ok.

4. The fruit of the curse leads to God sweeping those who do not take cover in the grace of God away.

5. The writer of Hebrews warns that this kind of fruit defiles many.

My sin is never isolated to me.

When it comes to sin (sin is the fruit of the curse, the rebellion against God in the garden that every human being is born with due to the fall), why should I care about it, do anything about it?

1. The person’s salvation is at stake. One can’t live in rebellion against God and be a follower of Jesus. Followers of Jesus repent. (See 1 John 3)

Repentance is evidence that I’m “saved”, been transformed by the gospel.

Illustration: When you catch a fish and you get it up on land what does that fish struggle to do if on the ground? Get back into the water, right? Why? Because it can’t live in the air. Because its identity and make up is, “fish”. It got fooled, took the bait, got caught, but was instantly sorry and worked with all its might to get into and stay in the water. Because it’s a fish.

When a Christian bites the bait of sin and gets landed by their folly, a follower of Jesus will flail with all their might to get right. Why? Because they can’t live in sin. Because their identity and make up is, “follower of Jesus”. They got fooled, took the bait, got caught, but was instantly sorry and will work with all their might to get right and stay right. Because they are a follower of Jesus. It’s their identity.

A fish that stays on the land is dead and ceases to be a fish because it dies.

A person that loves their sin more than righteousness is not a Christian. They are dead in sin. They need to be saved or they will end up in hell.

Why do something about my sin?

2. The gospel’s reputation is at stake. If we don’t take sin seriously, we communicate that Jesus’ death was really of no account. Jesus didn’t die so we could make sin our pet. Jesus died to kill sin in us and reconcile us back to the Father.

3. The church family is at stake. Your spiritual vitality is at stake. There is more at work than meets the eye. If we don’t deal with sin and restore sinners then we allow the evil one access and run the awful risk of a harvest of “bitter roots” in a plethora of cancerous ways.

My great desire for you is that you would see and savor Jesus Christ in all things. That end drives our work… “For the glory of God, we will disciple the nations, by being and producing radical followers of Jesus Christ.”

Everything we say is intended to drive you away from the rebellion, the curse and it’s fruit and drive you to see the majesty of King Jesus and his kingdom and love that more than the cancerous and bitter root of sin.

1. What not to do: Do not live like what you used to be, an unbeliever! v. 17-19

If Paul has to remind us to not act like what we used to be, then the propensity to act like that must still be real.

Here is the reality of the gospel. When Jesus justified us, we died with him, but we also have at the root of our being the curse of sin that Paul calls the “flesh” that we war against.

Romans 7 is clear that Paul had to war against the easiness of sin and make war to do what is right even though he wanted to do what is right.

Sin came easy. Doing right came hard.

Colossians 1:21 “And you, who were once alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds,…”

Colossians 3:7 “In these you too once walked (what is earthly: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness which is idolatry v. 5), when you were living in them.”

As Paul reminded one church, he is reminding another church that the manner of their life can’t be what it once was, which will be so easy for them to do.

1A. Don’t live in a darkened understanding v. 18a

Due to a futile mind (v. 17c), unbelievers live in a darkened understanding.

To put it another way, they are not capable of thinking on the truth. Truth does not rule them. They are in the dark. Lies rule them.

We must be constantly evaluating if we are living in and making decisions according to lies.

We must strive to be applying truth in every sphere of our existence.

1B. Don’t live alienated from life due to ignorance stemming from a hard heart v. 18b

Paul gives us second in this list the primary cause of the darkened understanding and ignorance. That primary cause is the hard heart. Paul’s parallel statement about the heart is made in 2:1 when he calls us dead.

Ultimately, darkened understanding and ignorance are due to the dead man walking.

Due to dead and hard hearts, man lives alienated from God and thus life.

Paul is reminding them to not return to dead living that is alienated from God.

You may ask: can I even do that? 

Paul’s answer is a resounding: YES!

Don’t hear: loss of salvation.

Hear: Never been transformed by the gospel. 

Paul tells us here that we must not go back to living like unbelievers because we will be evidencing that we are unbelievers.

Can an unbeliever really act as though they believe? See Judas. 

1C. Don’t be callous, given up to sensuality, greed and impurity v. 19

With a calloused heart, we will live according to our senses not by faith and that will lead all kinds of greed and impurity.

Don’t live according to your senses. They are not trust-worthy.

Being driven by felt needs lends itself to being a wave tossed around by every wind of doctrine.

For us, this is a warning. It’s sobriety. It’s a litmus test to see what we are.

Paul will now move from what not to do to a reminder of who the Ephesian believers are.

2. Who we are: We have learned Christ! v. 20-21

Colossians 2:6-7 “Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.”

2A. We have heard v. 21a

Paul does not simply mean physical hearing. Paul has in mind effective and transformational hearing. Hearing that results in change.

“He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” (Matthew 11:15)

This is Job 42:5 kind of hearing, “I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you.”

2B. We have been taught in Christ because the truth is in Jesus v. 21b

The connection between teaching and truth here is unmistakable.

As we have known Christ, we have known truth and it’s source. 

“…and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus.”

In other words, all true teaching emanates from the knowledge of Jesus.

1. We know that God himself is our source of truth

2. We reject all other claims to truth

3. We stubbornly hold on to reality from God’s perspective (truth)

4. We live in the community of the kingdom seeking to rescue others by bringing them into this truth

5. We are willing to die for this truth

3. What to do: Put off the old self and put on the new self! v. 22-24

The primary truth communicated here, is that in Christ we can kill sin. 

3A. Put off your old self v. 22

Let me be clear. I can’t say this better than John Owen and John Piper. So, I’m going to let them speak for me and to me for a minute.

“Do you mortify; do you make it your daily work; be always at it while you live; cease not a day from this work; be killing sin or sin will be killing you.” – John Owen

Romans 8:13 “For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.”

John Owen goes on to say… “…First, believers who are free from the condemning power of sin, ought to make it their daily work to mortify the indwelling power of sin; second, only the Holy Spirit is sufficient for this work; and third, the life, vigor, and comfort of the believer’s spiritual life depends much upon this work of mortifying sin.”

“Your being dead with Christ virtually, your being quickened with him, will not excuse you from this work. And our Savior tells us how his Father deals with every branch in him that bears fruit, every true and living branch. He purges it, that it may bring forth more fruit (John 15:2). He prunes it, and that not for a day or two, but while it is a branch in this world (continuously). And the apostle tells you what was his practice: I keep my body under control and bring it into subjection (1 Cor. 9:27).”

“He was killed for your sin (There is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus Rom. 8:1). You were killed in him and died to sin (You have died and your life is hidden in Christ with God Col. 3:3). Therefore, kill in yourself every quivering of that corpse of sin, lest you find him to be no corpse, but a captor, and yourself dead.” – John Piper

It is our work in walking worthy in Christ to be about the work of putting off the old self that will seek to grumble and rise from it’s dead state to kill us. 


10 Strategies to help us kill sin (adapted from John Owen and one added by me)

1. Consider whether the sin you are contending with has any dangerous symptoms attending it.

If you are coming down with a cold, there are some symptoms that come on the front end. Sometimes you may have a fever. Sometimes you may have a scratchy throat. Then the full thing comes on you. If you pay attention to the symptoms you can take some measures to cut it off or shorten its assault on you.

This is the idea here. What symptoms come along with the sin you are seeking to kill?

Recognize these symptoms and log them and watch for them then get to work on the coming assault by taking the offensive against the sin by killing it’s spies.

2. Get a clear and abiding sense upon your mind and conscience of the guilt, danger and evil of that sin.

You have to become convinced that sin is really evil and not a friendly. We can’t allow ourselves to believe that our sin is not really that bad.

The reality is that my sin put Jesus on the cross and it’s the grossest of evils. It may not even be the sin (not all sin is equal) as much as it is the object of my offense (God). And I’ve rebelled against the King of the universe.

3. Load your conscience with the guilt of it (that sin).

2 Corinthians 7:10 “For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret whereas worldly grief produces regret.”

John Owen is not talking about guilt that is the antithesis of Romans 8:1. He is not talking about condemnation.

Owen is talking about 2 Corinthians 7:10 grief that leads to repentance.

It’s the kind of grief that hates sin and loves righteousness and seeks repentance because holiness is really better.

4. Cultivate a constant longing for deliverance from the power of it.

Cultivate is the idea of planting a seed, fertilizing it, watering it, weeding around it and caring for it in order to receive the fruit of that seed planted.

Cultivating a longing for deliverance is to truly want the fruit of holiness and being rid of the disease of sin.

Plant holiness. Fertilize holiness. Water holiness. Weed out holiness choking weeds.

Don’t get comfortable with sin. Grow a longing for what it would be like to no longer be beset with that thing.

Imagine what it would be like to be free from that sin. Dream about freedom from that sin.

Pray for Father to liberate you from that sin: Ask, seek and knock until the good Father gives you fish and bread. He won’t give you a snake and rocks.

5. Consider whether the sin is rooted in your nature and exacerbated by your temperament.

Really consider whether or not your sin is the result of the fact that you are just a jerk and your jerkiness is producing the sin that causes the problem.

Example: If your sin is that of lust, the objects of your lust may not be what needs to be dealt with as much as a temperament of dissatisfaction and lack of contentment. 

If your temperament leads to sin, then attack your temperament with accountability in community and gladly receive correction from loving family who wants you to be in the kingdom.

6. Consider what occasions and advantages your sin has taken to exert and put forth itself, and watch against them all.

Learn to take note of the weaknesses that the sin takes advantage of and shore up defenses.

If your problem is materialism and getting the newest thing drives all your labor to the exclusion of a passion for Christ and the discipline of self-denial and managing God’s resources for his kingdom, then take note of what exacerbates the desire to get something new.

If it’s the constant visiting of your favorite sporting good store website, then have your wife or friend or someone block that site and check your internet history and take your credit card.

The occasion is the website. Have your browser set so that when you open a new tab that it goes to Desiring God or a sermon by Piper, like “Doing Missions When Dying is Gain.”

7. Rise mightily against the first actings and conceptions of your sin.

When the sin raises it’s ugly head, cut it off without any dialogue with it.

8. Meditate in such a way that you are filled at all times with self-abasement and thoughts of your own vileness.

Don’t buy your own press. Let the biblical balance rule your own mind. The bible will call you a saint and it will call you a sinner. Believe that. 

Realize that your sin is hated and an affront to God. Realize that Father loves you and counts you justified.

Wrestle with that tension. It’s healthy.

9. Listen to what God says to your soul and do not speak peace to yourself before God speaks it, but listen effectively what he says to your soul.

Seek Father’s peace not your own psychological soothing.

Father’s grace to bother your soul is life saving.

Example: There was a time when Jennifer and I were in Texas that I disobeyed a clear direction from the Lord. The Lord put me under a 6 year cloud of internal unrest (discipline Hebrews 12 style) teach me that:

1 Samuel 15:22, 23
“…Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice,
and to listen than the fat of rams.
For rebellion is as the sin of divination,
and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry…”

Learn to discern, by the Spirit, the difference between satanic condemnation and a Spirit wrought eclipse of the soul to drive us to humility and repentance.

10. Enjoy the superior pleasure of seeing and knowing Jesus.

When Isaiah was besieged with the death of king Uzziah, his greatest need was not a strategy to ease their vulnerability.

Isaiah’s greatest need was to see who the real king is.

“In the year that king Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on the throne.” Isaiah 6:1

Your greatest need and mine is to have the inferior pleasures of sin obliterated by the superior pleasure of seeing and knowing the king.

Psalm 16:11 “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”


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