Daily Devotional – Mortification of Sin

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March 19, 2019 by directorfsm

by John Owen – March 19th, 2019

Chapter 11
Five Others (Continued)

6. Watch against Sin’s Advantages

The sixth direction for mortification is:

Consider what occasions, what advantages, your distemper has taken to exert and put forth itself and watch against them all.

   This is one part of that duty which our blessed Savior recommends to His disciples under the name of watching: “I say unto all, Watch” (Mar 13:37); which in Luke 24:34 is, “Take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged”—that is, watch against all eruptions of your corruptions. I mean here the duty that David professed himself to be exercised unto. “I have,” he said, “kept myself from mine iniquity” (2Sa 22:24). He watched all the ways and workings of his iniquity, to prevent them and to rise up against them. This is that which we are called unto under the name of “considering our ways.”

   Consider what ways, what companies, what opportunities, what studies, what businesses, and what conditions have at any time given, or do usually give, advantages to your distempers, and set yourself heedfully against them all. Men will do this with respect to their bodily infirmities and distempers. The seasons, the diet, and the air that have proved offensive are carefully avoided. Are the things of the soul of less importance? Know that he who dares to dally with occasions of sin will dare to sin. He that will venture upon temptations unto wickedness will venture upon wickedness.

Hazael thought he should not be so wicked as the prophet told him he would be. To convince him, the prophet tells him no more but, “Thou shalt be king over Syria” (2Ki 8:13). If he will venture on temptations unto cruelty, he will be cruel. Tell a man he shall commit such and such sins, he will startle at it. If you can convince him that he will venture on such occasions and temptations of them, he will have little ground left for his confidence.

   Particular directions belonging to this head are many, not now to be insisted on. But be-cause this head is of no less importance than the whole doctrine here handled, I have dealt with it in depth in another treatise about entering into temptations.(85)

7. Rise at the First Evidence of Sin

The seventh direction for mortification is:

Rise mightily against the first actings of your distemper, its first conceptions; suffer it not to get the least ground.

   Do not say, Thus far it shall go, and no farther (Job 38:11). If it have allowance for one step, it will take another. It is impossible to fix bounds to sin. It is like water in a channel: if it once break out, it will have its course. Its not acting is easier to be compassed than its bounding. Therefore, James gives the gradation and process of lust (Jam 1:14-15), so that we may stop at the entrance.

   Do you find your corruption begins to entangle your thoughts? Rise up with all your strength against it, with no less indignation than if it had fully accomplished what it aims at. Consider what an unclean thought would have: it would have you roll yourself in folly and filth. Ask envy what it would have: murder and destruction is at the end of it. Set yourself against it with no less vigor than if it had utterly debased you to wickedness. Without this course you will not prevail. As sin gets ground in the affections to delight in it, it gets also up-on the understanding to slight it.

(85)  See Owen’s related classic on this subject: Of Temptation.
Excerpts from Mortification of Sin by John Owen from: The Chapel Library •  chapel@mountzion.org

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