Daily Devotional – Mortification of Sin (Final Installment)

Thus the author ends this great and important work on the

mortification of sin in believers. Let all God’s people

take to heart their serious continual duty to be

mortifying every sin daily, in order to glorify

God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

“Always be killing sin, or it will be killing you!”

by John Owen – April 7th, 2019

Chapter 14


2). Act faith in conformity to Christ crucified

   Secondly, act faith on the death of Christ under these two notions: first, in expectation of power; secondly, in endeavors for conformity.(103) For the first, the direction given in general may suffice. As to the latter, that of the apostle may give us some light into our direction. Let faith look on Christ in the gospel as He is set forth dying and crucified for us (Gal 3:1). Look on Him under the weight of our sins, praying, bleeding, dying.(104) Bring Him in that condition into your heart by faith. Apply His blood so shed to your corruptions; and do this daily.

   I might draw out this consideration to a great length, in various particulars, but I must come to a close.

2. Understand the Work of the Spirit

   I have only, then, to add the work of the Spirit in this business of mortification, which is so peculiarly ascribed to Him.

   In one word: This whole work, which I have described as our duty, is effected, carried on, and accomplished by the power of the Spirit, in all the parts and degrees of it.

   a. He alone clearly and fully convinces the heart of the evil, guilt, and danger of the corruption, lust, or sin to be mortified. Without this conviction, or while this conviction is so faint that the heart can wrestle with it or digest it, there will be no thorough work made. An unbelieving heart (as in part we all have) will try to find a way to avoid any consideration of sin unless it is overpowered by clear and evident convictions. Now this is the proper work of the Spirit: “He will reprove [that is, convince] of sin” (Joh 16:8). He alone can do it.

   If men’s rational considerations of the preaching of the letter were able to convince them of sin, it might be that we would see more convictions than we do. There comes by the preaching of the Word an apprehension upon the understandings of men that they are sinners, that such and such things are sins, and that they themselves are guilty of them. But this light is not powerful, nor does it lay hold on the practical principles of the soul, so as to conform the mind and will unto them to produce effects suitable to such an apprehension. And therefore it is that wise and knowing men, destitute of the Spirit, do not think those things to be sins at all in which the chief movings and actings of lust do consist. It is the Spirit alone that can do, that does, this work to the purpose.

   And this is the first thing that the Spirit does in order to the mortification of any lust what-ever: it convinces the soul of all the evil of it, cuts off all its pleas, discovers all its deceits, stops all its evasions, answers its pretenses, and makes the soul own its abomination and lie down under the sense of it. Unless this is done, all that follows is in vain.

b. The Spirit alone reveals unto us the fullness of Christ for our relief; which is the con-sideration that stays the heart from false ways and from despairing despondency (1Co 2:9-12).

c. The Spirit alone establishes the heart in expectation of relief from Christ; which is the great sovereign means of mortification, as has been shown (2Co 1:21).

d. The Spirit alone brings the cross of Christ into our hearts with its sin-killing power, for by the Spirit are we baptized into the death of Christ.

e. The Spirit is the author and finisher of our sanctification. He gives new supplies and influences of grace for holiness and sanctification, when the contrary principle is weakened or decreased (Eph 3:16-18).

f. The soul has support from the Spirit in all its addresses to God in this condition. Whence is the power, life, and vigor of prayer? Whence its effectiveness to prevail with God? Is it not from the Spirit? He is the “spirit of grace and of supplications” promised to them “who look upon me whom they have pierced” (Zec 12:10), enabling them to pray “with groanings which cannot be uttered” (Rom 8:26). This is confessed to be the great medium or way of faith’s prevailing with God. Thus Paul dealt with his temptation (whatever it was): “I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me” (2Co 12:8).

   What the work of the Spirit in prayer is, whence and how He gives us assistance and makes us to prevail, and what we are to do that we may enjoy His help for that purpose, is not my present intention to demonstrate

(103)  Phi 3:10; Col 3:3; 1Pe 1:18-19.
(104)  1Cor15:3; 1Pe 1:18-19; 4:1-2; Col 1:14, 18.
Excerpts from Mortification of Sin by John Owen from: The Chapel Library •  chapel@mountzion.org

It is our sincere hope that you have been edified and God Glorified through this devotional series. – Mike

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