Daily Devotional – Mortification of Sin

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February 26, 2019 by directorfsm

by John Owen – February 26th, 2019

Chapter 7 “RULES FOR MORTIFICATION” Continued 

b. Evils upon unbelievers who attempt mortification

Yea, there are various hopeless evils attending an endeavor to perform this duty in convinced persons who are not believers.

1). Distracted from seeking Christ

   When an unbeliever focuses on mortifying sin, his mind and soul are taken up about that which is not the man’s proper business, and so he is diverted from that which is. God lays hold by His Word and judgments on some sin in him, galls his conscience, disquiets his heart, deprives him of his rest. Now other diversions will not serve his turn; he must apply himself to the work before him. The business in hand is to awake the whole man unto a consideration of the state and condition he is in, that he might be brought home to God. But instead he sets himself to mortify the sin that troubles him—which is a clear result of self-love, to be freed from his trouble—and not at all to the work he is called to, and so is diverted from it. Thus, God tells us of the tribe of Ephraim, that He “spread [His] net upon them,” and brought “them down as the fowls of the heaven” and “chastised them” (Hos 7:12)—that is, caught them, entangled them, convinced them that they could not escape. Then God tells us, “They return, but not to the most High” (v. 16)—that is, they set themselves to a relinquishment of sin, but not by universal conversion as God called for it. Thus, the most promising efforts men can fix upon for coming to God divert them from coming to Him.

   This is one of the most common deceits whereby men ruin their own souls. I wish that some whose trade it is to daub with untempered mortar(61) in the things of God did not teach this deceit and cause the people to err by their ignorance (Eze 13:10-14). What do men do, what often are they directed unto, when their consciences are vexed by sin and disquieted by the Lord Who has laid hold upon them? Is not a practical relinquishment of the sin that they are perplexed with—in some fruits of it—and making head against it the sum of what they apply themselves to? And is not the gospel end of their convictions lost thereby? Here men abide and perish.

(61) daub with untempered mortar apply plaster of improperly mixed clay that will not hold up to weather; here refers to irresponsibly encouraging people to attempt mortification before saving faith.
Excerpts from Mortification of Sin by John Owen from:The Chapel Library •  chapel@mountzion.org

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