My previous post presented the writings of Puritan John Owen on the topic of battling sin. However, I realized that telling you what books were out there did very little to introduce you to Owen’s insights on this topic. Owen himself described what he considered to be the “chief design” of his life:
I hope I may own in sincerity that my heart’s desire unto God, and the chief design of my life in the station wherein the good providence of God has placed me, are that mortification and universal holiness may be promoted in my own heart, as well as in the hearts and ways of others, to the glory of God; that so the gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ may be adorned in all things.
Since Owen is so well known for his thoughts on putting sin to death, I thought it would be helpful to provide a sample of his quotes. (And please, don’t forget about the book giveaway from the previous post!) Here they are:
No man that willingly lives in any sin can love God at all. Where God is not loved above all, he is not loved at all.
Set faith at work on Christ for the killing of thy sin. His blood is the great sovereign remedy for sin-sick souls. Live in this, and you will die a conqueror.
Repeated consenting of the will to sin may bring about a disposition and inclination to similar acts; it may bring the will into a proneness and readiness to consent to sin upon easy solicitations. This is a dangerous condition of the soul, and greatly to be watched against.
The man that understands the evil of his own heart, how vile it is, is the only useful, fruitful, and solid believing and obedient person. Others are fit only to delude themselves, to disquiet families, churches, and all relations whatever.
Many men live in the dark to themselves all their days; whatever else they know they know not themselves. Few labor to grow wise in this matter; few study themselves as they ought; few are acquainted with the evils of their own hearts as they ought.
A false notion in which sin’s deceitfulness deludes the men’s souls is this: that one sin alone may be indulged. Some persons have lived long in the practice of some gross sin, yet all the while maintaining a semblance of great diligence in other duties of religion. One sin willingly lived in is just as able to destroy a man’s soul as a thousand.
There is no man that lives in any one known sin but that he really lives in more. Let no man reassure himself with thought that it is only one sin, when that one sin keeps him in a constant neglect of God. They deceive themselves in this, reasoning that although they cannot as yet shake off their sin, yet they will continue to still love God and abound in the duties of his worship. They hope that, notwithstanding this one lesser sin, it may be well with them in the end. This is a false notion, a mere instrument in sin’s hand to work its deception.
If a man has a grenade or fire-ball cast into his clothes by his enemy, he doesn’t consider whether or not it will burn him; rather, he immediately shakes it off from him. Deal no less rigorously with Satan’s fiery darts.
When temptation first enters your mind, meet it with thoughts of faith concerning Christ on the cross. This will make it sink before you. If you want to avoid entering into the temptation, entertain no discussion or dispute with it. Say, “It is Christ that died for such sins as these.’
Temptation is like a knife that may either cut the meat or the throat of a man; it may be his food or poison.
Temptations put nothing into a man, but only draw out what was in him before.
There is no way to have our work of fighting temptation done, except by always doing it. He who dies fighting in this warfare surely dies a conqueror. To be always ready is a good part of our warfare.
He that changes pride for worldliness, sensuality for Pharisaism, vanity in himself for the contempt of others, let him not think that he has mortified the sin that he seems to have left. He has changed his master, but is a servant still.
Let no man pretend to fear sin that does not fear temptation to it. They are too nearly allied to be separated. He does not hate the fruit who delights in the root.
He that would be little in temptation, let him be much in prayer.
The vigor and power and comfort of our spiritual life depends on our mortification of deeds of the flesh.
Mortification from a self-strength, carried on by ways of self-invention, resulting in self-righteousness, is the soul and substance of all false religion in the world.
Sin is never less quiet than when it seems to be the quietest; its waters are for the most part deep when they are still. Therefore, our workings against it ought to be vigorous at all times and in all conditions—even where there is least suspicion.
If sin is subtle, watchful, strong, and always at work in the business of killing our souls, and if we remain slothful, negligent, and foolish in our attempts to ruin it, can we expect a comfortable outcome? There is not a day but sin foils or is foiled, prevails or is prevailed on; and it will be so as long as we live in this world.
Do not allow your heart to be contented for one moment with your present frame and condition.
The choicest believers, who are assuredly freed from the condemning power of sin, ought yet to make it their business all their days to mortify the indwelling power of sin.
Sin is always acting, always conceiving, always seducing and tempting. Who is able to say that he ever had anything to do with God or for God, that indwelling sin did not have a hand in the corrupting of what he did?
This is one main reason why the Spirit and the new nature are given unto us—that we may have a principle within us whereby to oppose sin and lust.
Failure to be mortifying sin daily is to sin against the goodness, kindness, wisdom, grace, and love of God, who has furnished us with the means to do it.
Do you mortify sin? Do you make it your daily work? Be always at it while you live. Cease not a day from this work. Be killing sin or it will be killing you.