Daily Devotional – Mortification of Sin

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April 6, 2019 by directorfsm

by John Owen – April 6th, 2019

Chapter 14

HOW TO MORTIFY SIN (Continued)

d. Particular directions

   Now, on this direction for the mortification of a prevailing distemper, you may have a thousand testimonials as to its value. Who has walked with God under this temptation, and has not found the use and success of it? I dare leave the soul under it, without adding any more. Only some particulars relating thereunto may be mentioned.

1). Act faith upon Christ crucified

   First, act faith peculiarly upon the death, blood, and cross of Christ—that is, on Christ as crucified and slain. Mortification of sin is peculiarly from the death of Christ. It is one peculiar, eminent end of the death of Christ that shall assuredly be accomplished by it. He died to destroy the works of the devil. Whatever came upon our natures by the devil’s first tempta-tion,(99) whatever receives strength in our persons by his daily suggestions, Christ died to destroy it all.

   “He gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works” (Ti 2:14). This was Christ’s aim and intention (in which He will not fail) for His giving Himself for us. It was His design that we might be freed from the power of our sins and purified from all our defiling lusts. “Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish” (Eph 5:25-27). And this shall be accomplished by virtue of His death, in various and several degrees.

   Hence our washing, purging, and cleansing from sin is everywhere ascribed to His blood (1Jo 1:7; Heb 1:3; Rev 1:5). “How much more shall the blood of Christ,” being sprinkled on us, “purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God” (Heb 9:14). This is that which we aim at, this we are in pursuit of: that our consciences may be purged from dead works, that they may be rooted out, destroyed, and have place in us no more. This shall certainly be brought about by the death of Christ: virtue will go out from thence to this purpose. Indeed, all supplies of the Spirit, all communications of grace and power, are from His death— as I have elsewhere showed.(100)

   Thus the apostle states it in Romans 6:2, where the case is proposed that we are considering: “How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” That is, how shall we live in sin when we are dead to sin by profession; dead to sin by obligation to be so; dead to sin by participation of virtue and power for the killing of it; dead to sin by union and interest in Christ, in and by Whom it is killed?

   This he presses by various considerations all taken from the death of Christ in the ensuing verses. This must not be: “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?” (6:3). We have in baptism(101) an evidence of our implantation in-to Christ; we are baptized into Him. But what of Christ are we baptized into an interest in? “His death,” he says. If indeed we are baptized into Christ (beyond mere outward profession), we are baptized into His death.

   The explanation of this, of one being baptized into the death of Christ, the apostle gives us in verses 4 and 6:

   Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life…Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.

   “Our being baptized into the death of Christ,” he says, “is this, namely, our conformity there-unto: to be dead unto sin, to have our corruptions mortified, as He was put to death for sin, so that as He was raised up to glory, we may be raised up to grace and newness of life.”

   He tells us whence it is that we have this baptism into the death of Christ in verse 6, and this is from the death of Christ itself: “Our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed”—“is crucified with him,” not in respect of time, but as the cause. We are crucified with Him meritoriously,(102) in that He procured the Spirit for us to mortify sin; efficiently, in that from His death virtue comes forth for our crucifying; as a representation and example, in that we shall assuredly be crucified unto sin as He was for our sin. This is what the apostle intends: Christ by His death—destroying the works of the devil and procuring the Spirit for us—has so killed sin as to its reign in believers that it shall not obtain its end and dominion.

(99)  devil’s first temptation – temptation in the Garden of Eden (Gen 3), resulting in Adam’s (and thereby all mankind’s) fall into sin and depravity.
(100) Owen, Works, Vol. 2, “Communion with Christ,” chapters 7-8.
(101) baptism – water rite, which is an outward sign and symbol of our spiritual identification and union with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection; the result of this spiritual union of the soul with Christ is that the old man, characterized by sin and selfishness, has died, and the new man has risen to love, grace, and all the fruits of the Spirit in new life in Christ.
(102) Our crucifixion with Christ is accomplished based on Christ’s merit, not our own.
Excerpts from Mortification of Sin by John Owen from: The Chapel Library •  chapel@mountzion.org

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