This is my once-monthly post on the Puritan John Owen. In this series of posts I am sharing some of what John Owen says about putting sin to death, or what he calls mortification. I have been going through John Owen’s book Overcoming Sin and Temptation and trying to distill each chapter to its essence—to a few choice quotes that capture the flavor of what Owen is trying to communicate.
So far we’ve looked at The Foundation of Mortification, we’ve been encouraged to Daily Put Sin to Death, to understand that It Is the Holy Spirit Who Puts Sin to Death and to acknowledge that Your Spiritual Life Depends Upon Killing Sin. Last month we saw What It Is Not to Put Sin to Death. Today we look to the flip-side of last month’s teaching and see what it is to put sin to death.
Here are the three things Owen teaches…
Mortification Consists of a Habitual Weakening of Sin
Though this quote serves as introduction rather than the main point, I thought it was too good not to share:
The reason why a natural man is not always perpetually in the pursuit of some one lust, night and day, is because he has many to serve, every one crying to be satisfied; thence he is carried on with great variety, but still in general he lies toward the satisfaction of self.
Owen is a straight-shooter! He says that the only reason you are not absolutely consumed with any one sin is that you have many other sins to serve. And then he goes on to share the first thing you need to know about putting sin to death.
The first thing in mortification is the weakening of this habit of sin or lust, that it shall not, with that violence, earnestness, frequency, rise up, conceive, tumultuate, provoke, entice, disquiet as naturally as it is apt to do.
The first thing to observe as you begin to put sin to death is that sin becomes progressively weaker so that over time it does not rise up with the same violence, frequency or force. This means that success against sin is not only in destroying it entirely, but in weakening its grasp on us.