Mortification Is Not to Root Sin Out and Destroy It

“To mortify a sin is not to utterly root it out and destroy it, that it should have no more hold at all nor residence in our hearts. It is true this is what we aim at, but we will not be able to accomplish it in this life. All who seek mortification seek the utter destruction, both of its fruit and its root in the heart and life. They seek to kill it, so that it will never move nor stir any more, nor cry,  call, seduce or tempt, to all eternity. We aim at the total destruction of the sin, so that it does not exist.”

– John Owen, The Mortification of Sin, p.26-27

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Sin Darkens the Soul

“Sin will also darken the soul, and deprive it of its comfort and peace. Sin darkens the soul. It is a cloud, that spread itself over the  face of the soul, and intercepts all the beams of God’s love and favour. It takes away all sense of the privilege of our adoption; and if the soul begins to gather up thoughts of consolation, sin quickly scatters them.”

– John Owen, The Mortification of Sin, p.24

The Work of the Spirit in Mortification

“‘But how does the Spirit give us victory?’ By our living in the Spirit and walking after the Spirit. As we abound in the graces of the Spirit and walk according to them, the fruits of the Spirit restrict the fruits of the flesh, because the works of the flesh are contrary to the works of the Spirit. This renewing of us by the Holy Spirit, as it is called (Titus 3:5), is one great way of mortification. He causes us to grow, thrive, flourish, and abound in the graces which are contrary, opposite, and destructive to all the works of the flesh, and contrary to the thriving of indwelling sin itself.

By the effective destruction of the root and habit of sin, to weaken, destroy, and take it away. He is called a ‘Spirit of judgment and of burning’ (Isa. 4:4), in really consuming and destroying our lusts. He takes away the stony heart by an almighty work. He begins this work, as to its kind, and then carries it on by degrees. He is the fire that burns up the very root of lust.

He brings the cross of Christ into the heart of a sinner by faith, and gives communion with Christ in His death, and fellowship in His sufferings.”

– John Owen, The Mortification of Sin, p.18

A Puritan’s View of Lust

9780851519814mImpure Lust is a small book from Banner of Truth‘s Pocket Puritans series. The author, John Flavel, addresses the sin of lust for the first half of the book (46 pages) and the second half was a concise introduction to Flavel’s life and his writings (34 pages).  The book breaks down into ten arguments to show the sinfulness of the sin of lust and warnings why you should avoid it, and then gives seven directions to follow if ensnared by lust.

Reflecting back on the book, I thought it was heavier on sin than on grace. (A big surprise coming from a Puritan.) Using scriptural arguments, he clearly communicated the evil of the sin of lust, but with that conviction I felt that the reader isn’t lead to the cross where that sin is atoned for (for the believer). I don’t know if I would recommend it to a believer who isn’t rooted in grace. But maybe I am the one who is imbalanced in my theology. Perhaps I need to take lust more seriously and not presume on the grace of God in this area. In our sex-saturated culture, I am certain that I am desensitized to the filthiness of lust. I probably needed to read this book (and need to return to it later).I don’t doubt that these warnings to avoid sexually immorality isn’t done in love, but I wanted to hear more of the Gospel that is available to adulterers,fornicators and impure sinners who repent of their lust and trust in the perfectly pure righteousness of Christ.  To be fair, it was a very short book, so it’s easy to say there could a have been more written. Also, I imagine that this was not intended to be an exhaustive book, but just a small selection of his writings on the topic of lust. Regardless, there are several nuggets worth chewing on that I have been posting recently (and will continue to post in the near future). Here is one quote that impacted me the most:

“Oh consider, how will [God’s] almighty power rack and torment you! Think on this when sin comes with a smiling face towards you in the temptation. Oh think! If the human nature of Christ recoiled, when his cup of wrath was given him to drink; if he was sore amazed at it, how shall you, a poor worm, bear and grapple with it for ever?” (p. 31)

I read through this book slowly and I believer that is the way it was intended to be read. If battle lust in any way (and if you have a pulse, chances are you likely do), then you should read this book. I would especially recommend to it if you regularly practice this sin and you aren’t convinced of it’s impurity in light of a Holy God. If you do consider reading it, read and meditate on one argument/direction at a time for at least day or a two.

Overall, I give it 4 stars out of 5. Both the section on lust and the brief biography made me somewhat curious to read more of Flavel’s work. His writing is typically classed with other popular Puritan divines such as John Bunyan, Matthew Henry, and John Owen.

2008 Reading

Here are a list of books that I am currently reading or plan on reading by the end of the year 2008. Several of these books I’ve already started reading and am slowly reading through each. After each title I’ll give a brief blurb why I am reading it, how much I’ve read so far, etc. (Click on the image of the book for more details about it.)

I’ve been reading through this with a group of men from my church, but the group hasn’t met for a while. So far we’ve gotten through the fifth chapter. It was partly because of the fifth chapter on reading the Bible and Christian literature that I was compelled to write this post. I’m not a huge fan of his writing style, but there are many truths that have provoked me and I pray that God may use this to grow me into a more godly man.

The Atonement is a book that I decided to read for a few reasons. I have resolved to read at least one book on the cross per year and this is that book. I need to meditate frequently on what God has done for me in Christ, so that I don’t wallow in condemnation of my sin, let my feelings inform me, or slip into legalism and self-atonement. I don’t ever want to forget that Christ died for my sins. I don’t ever want to lose sight of Calvary. I picked up this book while eagerly anticipating Shai Linne’s sophomore album with the same title. I wanted to prepare myself to hear the precious truths of what Christ has done on my behalf that I could not achieve. I just read chapter two on “Sacrifice” this afternoon and it was gold.

I’ve been reading through this book with my care group. So far we have read through seven chapters. Recently was I really encouraged and challenged by my friend, Michele, who was significantly impacted by the message of this book. She realized that she was “bought with a price” (1 Corinthians 6:20) and therefore she ought to glorify God in her body.

I borrowed this book from a friend a long time ago, but I didn’t begin reading it until recently. I figured since I’m 24 now it might be a good idea to start thinking about marriage. Hopefully this book will somewhat prepare me to love one woman as Christ loved the Church (Ephesians 5:25).

Another dating, relationship-type book. I’m reading this not only in preparation for marriage/courtship, but also to learn to apply the roles of biblical masculinity and understand biblical femininity. C.J. Mahaney endorsed this book at last year’s New Attitude. I’ve read the first two chapters and it’s quite different from what I expected it to be. The author not only uses scripture, but many times draws truths from other secular resources.

I plan on reading this in the summer. My pastor and several friends highly recommended reading this book. I’ve been wanting to read a puritan book for a while because I’ve never read through a whole one yet.

I plan on reading classic with another group of men. (Hopefully, this won’t fall off like the other group.) I’ve read through about half this book, but never finished it. (I’ve written a post on it before.) I think this book will be more profitable when I read and discuss it through with other men who are older and wiser than me.