Posted by: William | January 10, 2008

Mortification of Sin: Chapter 9

Along with a community of people from, 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 too late to join this adventure. Go here and read this. Then go here and buy this.

This last chapter, chapter nine, was quite the doozy. For starters, it was the longest so far, but in addition to that it also employed the most complicated lexicon. But of course, as usual, Owen had some profoundly important words to share. Not a chapter yet has spared me from some level of conviction, and this was no exception.

In this chapter, Owen gives some explicit instructions for when found under the weight of some specific lust. He says we need to first consider whether our lust has a few specifically dangerous symptoms:

The first one being it’s ‘inveterateness’ (here is an example of one of those complicated words). I had to look this word up; it means firmly established or settled in. Owen means to say that our sin is particularly dangerous if it has found comfortable lodging; you’ve become accustomed to it; satisfied with it; do not see it as a particular evil, but perhaps just part of ‘who you are’. He says in these circumstances, we will be prone to apply ‘grace’ and ‘mercy’ to that lust, rather than set ourselves against it. “When upon thoughts, perplexing thoughts about a sin, instead of applying himself to the destruction of it, a man searches his heart to see what evidences he can find of a good condition, [despite] that sin and lust, so that it may go well with him.” In all honesty, this cut deep. Whenever I have come under the weight of heavy conviction, it almost always seems to be my first course of action. Search my other circumstances, or the circumstances of the particular sin or lust for a reason to nullify my conscience. “His condition is very dangerous,” says Owen.

The second dangerous symptom of a particular sin or lust that Owen presents is previous conviction. He asks if God has already attempted to deal with this sin in our lives and we hardened our hearts. Owen says this is an extremely dangerous position to be in and “every particular warning to a man in such an estate is an inestimable mercy.”

This book is challenging, and frankly, this chapter even leaves me feeling a bit inadequate to summarize or really fully share my thoughts. However, I pray for mercy that God would give me the grace not to harden my heart to his conviction and never to give any lust or sin comfortable residence in my body.


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