Posted by: William | December 21, 2007

Mortification of Sin: Chapter 6

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.

I’m certain that I have posted on topics very similar to this one in the past, but they appeared in this weeks chapter of our book and I felt compelled to write again. Believers often are prone to think of sin as an external and passive enemy; while the Devil is perhaps the aggressive counterpart. However, regardless of the diligence with which you barricade your fortress to keep out the enemy, however assiduously you hold the shield of truth above your head, there is still a bloodthirsty enemy within your own ranks. Only after a heavy blow from his sword will you know that he is an enemy. However, even worse than this is that only a sort time later we will likely welcome this enemy back with hospitality. “It is to be feared,” writes Mr. Owen, “that very many have little knowledge of the main enemy that they carry about with them in their bosoms.” Mr. Owen is again referring to our hearts. It is not the Devil who is our main enemy, it is our own hearts.  They are prone to wickedness. The Devil needs only to stir them up and they will destroy us from the inside.

This is the great reason and necessity for mortification. But, that is an ambiguous term. And what does it mean to put this enemy within our chests to death? “We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin” (Romans 6:6). Mortification is the crucifixion of our flesh; of our sinful hearts. It is their sentence and condemnation within our lives. But how does this actually play out? Mr. Owens further likens sin to a man condemned to die on a cross:

 

“As a man nailed to the cross he first struggles and strives and cries out with great strength and might, but, as his blood and spirits waste, his strivings are faint and seldom, his cries low and hoarse, scarce to be heard; when a man first sets on a lust or distemper, to deal with it, it struggles with great violence to break loose; it cries with earnestness and impatience to be satisfied and relieved; but when by mortification the blood and the spirits of it are let out, it moves seldom and faintly, cries sparingly, and is scarce heard in the heart; it may have sometimes a dying pang, that makes an appearance of great vigor and strength, but it is quickly over, especially if it be kept from considerable success.”

 

            What it is that will “let out the blood and spirits” of our sin is the disciplined binding and abstaining from our sin by the power of the Holy Spirit within us. It is by the Holy Spirit that sin is mortified through our obedience and discipline.

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Responses

  1. This is wonderful. This rang so true when we were driving down Greenbelt Rd. yesterday and sin had stopped me in my tracks. It was very internalized, very ingrained and a part of me. I hated it, I hate it. Thank God for my savior Jesus Christ and his particular saving work on the cross. He has secured me. I am no longer my own..whew!


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