“Surely that man must be in an unhealthy state of soul, who can think of all that Jesus suffered–and yet love those sins for which that suffering was undergone! It was sin which wove the crown of thorns! It was sin which pierced our Lord’s hands and feet and side! It was sin which brought Him to Gethsemane and Calvary, to the cross and to the grave! Cold must our hearts be, if we do not hate sin and labor to get rid of it–though we may have to cut off the right hand and pluck out the right eye in doing it!”
“I grant it costs much to be a true Christian. But what sane man or woman can doubt that it is worth any cost to have the soul saved? When the ship is in danger of sinking, the crew think nothing of casting overboard the precious cargo. When a limb is mortified, a man will submit to any severe operation, and even to amputation, to save life. Surely a Christian should be willing to give up anything which stands between him and heaven. A religion that costs nothing is worth nothing! A cheap Christianity, without a cross, will prove in the end a useless Christianity, without a crown.”
– J.C. Ryle, Holiness, p.79
“Bring your lust to the gospel. Not for relief, but for further conviction of your guilt. Look on Him whom you have pierced, and let it trouble you. Say to your soul, ‘What have I done? What love, what mercy, what blood, what grace have I despised and trampled on! Is this how I pay back the Father for His love? Is this how I thank the Son for His blood? Is this how I respond to the Holy Spirit for His grace? Have I defiled the heart that Christ died to wash, and the Holy Spirit has chosen to dwell in? How can I keep myself out of the dust? What can I say to the dear Lord Jesus? How shall I hold up my head with any boldness before Him? Do I count fellowship with Him of so little value that, for this vile lust’s sake, I have hard;y left Him any room in my heart? How shall I escape if I neglect so great a salvation?
‘What shall I say to the Lord? His love, mercy, grace, goodness, peace, joy, consolation – I have despised all of them! I have considered them as nothing, that I might habour lust in my heart. Have I seen God as my Father, that I might provoke Him to His face? Was my soul washed that there might be room for new defilements? Shall I seek to disappoint the purpose of the death of Christ? Shall I grieve the Holy Spirit, Who has sealed me unto the day of redemption?’ Allow your conscience to consider these things every day. See if you conscience can resist the way in which these considerations aggravate guilt. If this does not cause your conscience to sink and melt, I fear that your case is very dangerous.”
– John Owen, The Mortification of Sin, p.78-79
“Examine yourself also by this: When you are tempted, and must decide whether you will serve sin and rush into folly, like a horse into battle, or fight against it and suppress it, what do you say to your soul? ‘Hell will be the end of this course; vengeance will meet with me and find me out!’ It is time for you to look about you; evil lies at the door. Paul’s main argument that sin should not have dominion over believers is that they are ‘not under law, but under grace’ (Romans 6:14). If your battle against sin is only legal principles and motives, what assurance do you have that this sin will not have dominion over you, leading to your ruin?
“Also, this defense will not last long. If your lust has driven you away from stronger gospel considerations, then considerations of law and penalty will speedily fail you also. These will not restrain you when you have voluntarily given up to your enemy a means of preservation a thousand times stronger. Be sure of this, that unless you recover yourself rapidly from this condition, the thing you fear will come upon you. What gospel principles have not done, legal motives cannot do!”
– John Owen, The Mortification of Sin, p.60-61 (italics in original)
“We must hate all sin, as sin, and not just that which troubles us. Love for Christ, because He went to the cross, and hate the sin that sent Him there, is the solid foundation of true spiritual mortification. To seek mortification only because a sin troubles us proceeds from self-love. Why do you with all diligence and earnestness seek to mortify this sin? Because it troubles you and takes away your peace, and fills your heart with sorrow, trouble, and fear, and because you do not have rest through it? Yes, but, friend, you have neglected prayer and reading! You have been vain and loose in your conversation with other things. These are just as sinful as the one that troubles you. Jesus Christ bled for them also. Why do you not set yourself against them? If you hate sin as sin, and every evil way, you would be watchful against everything that grieves and disquiets the Spirit of God.”
– John Owen, The Mortification of Sin, p.50-51
“An unregenerate man may do something like mortification, but the real work itself, so that it may be acceptable with God, he can never perform. Some of the Philosophers declare how they have conquered the world and self, and are able to regulate their passions and affections! The lives however of most of them reveal their boasts differ from true mortification just as the sun which is painted on a fence differs from the sun itself; it has neither light nor heat. There is no death of sin without the death of Christ. You realize how the Papists, in their vows and penances seek mortification according to the principles of their church, yet they are like Israel who, seeking for their own righteousness, have not attained it! Why? Because they seek it by works of the law and not by faith (Romans 9:31-32).
– John Owen, The Mortification of Sin, p.41
“The first thing in mortification is the weakening of the habit of sin or lust, so that it shall not, with that violence, earnestness and frequency, rise up and conceive, provoke, entice, and disquiet as it naturally has a tendency to do (James 1:14-15). This is called ‘crucifying the flesh with its passions and desires’ (Galatians 5:24). We seek to take away that about it which gives it strength and power. We aim at the killing of the body of death ‘day by day’ (see 2 Corinthians 4:16).
When a man is nailed to a cross, he at first struggles, strives, and cries out with great strength and might; but as his blood and spirits waste, his strivings are faint and seldom, his cries hoarse, and scarce to be heard. So when a man first determines to conquer a lust or sin, and to deal with it in earnest, it struggles with great violence to break loose; it cries with earnestness and impatience to be satisfied and relieved. By mortification, the blood and spirits of it are let out, it moves seldom and faintly, cries sparingly, and is scarce heard in the heart; it may sometimes have a dying pang that makes an appearance of great vigor and strength, but it is quickly over, especially if it kept from considerable success.
– John Owen, The Mortification of Sin, p.34-35
“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
“‘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