The Wisdom of John Owen on Sin

I’ve been reading through John Owen’s The Mortification of Sin, and it’s been super helpful to me. I’ve been convicted recently (by way of God’s school of trials), that I have more sin in my life that needs to die (or be “mortified” as Owen would say). It’s funny how that conviction comes and goes in waves.

I borrowed Owen’s book from a friend on our church’s pastoral staff, and it’s been the perfect read for me as of late. I would venture a guess that a book like this might not be the same read if there haven’t been some recent trials in your life. Reading the book has been a grace in the midst of our family’s craziness. Below is one of many hard-hitting passages. Thus writes Mr. Owen:

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 for sin that sent Him there, is the solid foundation for 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. You would not be concerned only about the sin that upsets your own soul. It is evident that you fight against this sin merely because it troubles you. If it did not bother your conscience you would let it alone. If it did not bother you, you would not bother it.

If we will do anything, we must do everything. So, then, our need is not only an intense opposition to this or that particular lust, but a universal humble frame and temper of heart that watches over every evil, and seeks the performance of every duty that is pleasing to God.

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