Mortification: “The Constant Duty of Believers.”

I am slowly making my way through Owen’s Overcoming Sin and Tempation, which includes three of his classic works:

  • Of the Mortification of Sin in Believers
  • Of Temptation: The Nature and Power of It
  • Indwelling Sin

Here’s a passage that I highlighted earlier in the book on the discipline of mortification:

To mortify. Ei thanatouteI – “if you put to death” –[is] a metaphorical expression, taken from the putting of any living thing to death. To kill a man, or any other living thing, is to take away the principle of all his strength, vigor, and power, so that he cannot act or exert or put forth any proper actings of his own; so it is in this case. Indwelling sin is compared to a person, a living person, called “the old man,” with his faculties and properties, his wisdom, craft, subtlety, strength; this, says the apostle, must be killed, put to death, mortified – that is, have its power, life, vigor, and strength to produce its effects taken away by the Spirit. It is, indeed, meritoriously, and by way of example, utterly mortified and slain by the cross of Christ; and the “old man” is thence said to be ‘crucified with Christ” (Rom. 6:6), and ourselves to be “dead” with him (Rom 6:8), and really initially in regeneration (Gal. 5:17) is planted in our hearts; but the whole work is by degrees to be carried on toward perfection all our days. Of this more in the process of our discourse. The intention of the apostle in this prescription of the duty mentioned is that:

The mortification of indwelling sin remaining in our mortal bodies, that it may not have life and power to bring forth the works or deeds of the flesh, is the constant duty of believers.

-Overcoming Sin and Temptation by John Owen (48 & 49)


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