Daily Devotional – Mortification of Sin

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February 12, 2019 by directorfsm

by John Owen – February 12th, 2019


What it is to mortify a sin in general, which will make further way for particular directions, is next to be considered.(48)

The mortification of a lust consists in three things. The first thing in mortification is the weakening of this habit of sin or lust. The second thing in mortification is a constant fighting and contending against sin. The third part of mortification is a frequent success against any lust.

1. Habitual Weakening of Sin

   The first thing in mortification is the weakening of this habit of sin. Every lust is a depraved habit or disposition, continually inclining the heart to evil. Thence is that description of him who has no lust truly mortified: “Every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Gen 6:5). He is always under the power of a strong bent and inclination to sin. And the reason why a natural man is not always perpetually in the pursuit of 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 towards the satisfaction of self.

   We will suppose, then, the lust or distemper whose mortification is inquired after to be in itself a strong, deeply-rooted, habitual inclination and bent of will and affections to some actual sin as to the matter of it—though not, under that formal consideration, always stirring up imaginations, thoughts, and contrivances about the object of it. Hence, men are said to have their “hearts…fully set in them to do evil” (Ecc 8:11), that is, the bent of their spirits lies towards it, to make “provision for the flesh” (Rom 13:14).

   A sinful, depraved habit—as in many other things, so in this—differs from all natural or moral habits whatever. Whereas moral habits incline the soul gently and suitably to itself, sinful habits drive with violence and impetuousness.(49) From this, lusts are said to fight or wage “war against the soul” (1Pet 2:11), that is, to rebel or rise up in war with that conduct and op-position which is usual therein (Rom 7:23), to lead captive, or effectively capturing upon success in battle—all works of great violence and impetuousness.(50)

   Now, the first thing in mortification is the weakening of this habit of sin or lust, that it shall not—with that violence, earnestness, and frequency—rise up, conceive, disturb, provoke, entice, or disquiet as naturally it is apt to do (Jam 1:14-15).

(48) This chapter is a continuation of the first head (I.) describing mortification, begun in Chapter 5 with section 1 detailing what mortification is not. This chapter is section 2 of that same head.
(49) impetuousness – strong emotion.
 (50) I might manifest fully, from that description we have of it in Romans 7, how it will darken the mind, extinguish convictions, dethrone reason, interrupt the power and influence of any considerations that may be brought to hamper it, and break through all into a flame. But this is not my present business. —from the original

Excerpts from Mortification of Sin by John Owen from:             The Chapel Library •  chapel@mountzion.org

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