Posted by: William | December 16, 2007

Mortification of Sin: Chapter 5

            Along with a community of people from Challies.com, I am reading Of The Mortification of Sin in Believers as found in the collection of classics by John Owen Overcoming Sin and Temptation. It’s not to late to join this adventure. Go here and read this. Then go here and buy this. I seriously recommend it; it’s challenging my life like I never would have expected.

            In the fifth chapter of Of The Mortification of Sin in Believers, by John Owen, Mr. Owen prefaces the coming chapters of the book; most chiefly by stating what mortification isn’t. Mortification isn’t the utter destruction and death of sin, as in we cannot think we’ll become fully perfect by way of it in this lifetime (Philippians 3:12). Mortification is not the dissimulation of sin; appearing to mortify sin is not the same as mortifying it (i.e., the Pharisees). It’s not good enough to just look the part. Mortification is not just occasional conquests over sin (Proverbs 26:11); although there are victories, mortification is not summed up in becoming disillusioned with sin and the calm that briefly fallows the battle. Mr. Owen added to these two, that are closely related and I feel speak very clearly to me.

            Mortification is not the improvement of a quiet sedate nature, nor is it the diversion of sin. I think I have grown up in my faith at times to believe that where there is sin we must cut off the vehicle which it rides in on, rather than seeking to see that sin’s power over us destroyed altogether so that no matter how it rises it may be resisted. I don’t want anyone to be confused; there is clearly a time when we must separate ourselves from the things that tempt us, and from our vices (Matthew 5:30). But I would say not indiscriminately, it should be upon the leading of Christ.

“A man may be sensible of a lust, set himself against the eruptions of it, take care that it shall not break forth as it has done, but in the meantime suffer the same corrupted habit to vent itself some other way,” writes Mr. Owen. I think that as people we’re prone to blame sin on external forces, (i.e., the devil made me do it) but the truth is that only temptations are sometimes external, the sin itself rises from inside our already corrupt flesh. So no matter how much it is we cut off the temptation to sin, the potential for sin itself still dwells inside of us; it’s only a matter of time before some other unexpected avenue for that very same sin arises. Our flesh is not a righteous thing that suffers under the external force of sin that destroys us; “poor me,” we might say. No, our flesh is unrighteous and prone to wander, so we suffer from the internal rising of sin that wants to drag us into the pits of hell.

I think we ought to seek to be able, in the power of Christ, to stand firm against the worst evils residing in our hearts. What a great mission field is the strip club and pornography retailer, yet for so many believers it is a battlefield they dare not enter. Through the grace and power of Christ in mortification, it is one we may walk into boldly.

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Responses

  1. ahhhhh man. i want to get my hands on that book by John Owen so badly. it looks like i will have to wait after Christmas. =(. well….i hope you are blessed by it. grace and peace.

  2. Daniel,

    I encourage you to get started now by checking out the online version: http://www.johnowen.org/media/OvercomingSinAndTemptation.pdf

    William,

    thanks enjoyed this, I didn’t have as much time to read and reread Owen chap 5 last week as I had with the first four chapters, your article reminded me again of the material I read there. Regarding your last paragraph above, I’m reminded of Jude Jud 1:22 And of some have compassion, making a difference:
    Jud 1:23 And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.

    sda

  3. thanks for the link


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