February 15, 2019 by directorfsm
by John Owen – February 15th, 2019
Chapter 6 “WHAT MORTIFICATION IS” Continued
b. Crucifying the flesh
I say, then, that the first thing in mortification is the weakening of this habit so that it shall not impel and disturb as formerly—that it shall not entice and draw aside; that it shall not dis-quiet and perplex the killing of its life, vigor, promptness, and readiness to be stirring. This is called crucifying “the flesh with the affections and lusts” (Gal 5:24); that is, taking away its blood and spirits that give it strength and power, the wasting of the body of death “day by day” (2Co 4:16).
A man nailed to the cross first struggles, 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. Similarly, 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 spirits of it are let out, it moves seldom and faintly, cries sparingly, and is scarce heard in the heart. It may have some-times 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.
This the apostle describes, as in the whole chapter, so especially in Romans 6:6, the “old man is crucified with” Christ. Sin, he says, is crucified; it is fastened to the cross. To what end? “That the body of sin might be destroyed,” the power of sin weakened and abolished little by little, that “henceforth we should not serve sin”; that is, that sin might not incline us, drive us, with such effectiveness as to make us servants to it as it has done up until now.
And this is spoken not only with respect to carnal and sensual affections, or desires of worldly things—not only in respect of the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life (1Jo 2:16)—but also as to the flesh, that is, in the mind and will, in that opposition unto God which is in us by nature. Of whatever nature the troubling corruption is, by whatever ways it makes itself out, either by driving to evil or hindering from that which is good, the rule is the same. Unless this mortification be done effectively, all after -contention will not reach the goal aimed at. A man may beat down the bitter fruit from an evil tree until he is weary while the root abides in strength and vigor. The beating down of the present fruit will not hinder it from bringing forth more. This is the folly of some men: they set themselves with all earnestness and diligence against the appearing eruption of lust; but, leaving the principle and root untouched, perhaps unsearched out, they make but little or no progress in this work of mortification.