John Owen’s On The Mortification of Sin in Believers is one of the most spirtually helpful books I’ve ever read. It is basically an extended study on Romans 8:13, “If you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death teh deeds of the body you will live.”
I read it in the book pictured to the right, bound together with two other of Owen’s works on Sin and Temptation (This the title Overcoming Sin and Temptation). This edition is especially helpful becuase they define old words at the bottom of the page (the book is several hundred years old).
I was surprised by Owen’s ability to reduce deep truths down to memorable one-liners. His most famous sums up the message of the book:
“Be killing sin or it will be killing you.”
So scrape together some change and go get it. It will do your soul a lifetime of good if you heed his warnings and take his advice. You’ll see sin for the destructive evil it is, and get a course in the art of spiritual warfare against temptation.
Calri Milacci typed up a few more quotes from thebook, to give you a sense for Owen’s thought:
“To mortify (“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.” (Page 48)
“Sin aims always at the utmost; every time it rises up to tempt or entice, might it have its own course, it would go out to the utmost sin in that kind. Every unclean thought or glance would be adultery if it could; every covetous desire would be oppression, every thought of unbelief would be atheism, might it grow to its head.” (Page 53)
“Every unmortified sin will certainly do two things: It will weaken the soul and deprive it of its vigor. It will darken the soul and deprive it of its comfort and peace.” (Page 64)
“Hatred of sin as sin, not only as galling or disquieting, a sense of the love of Christ in the cross, lies at the bottom of all true spiritual mortification.” (Page 87)
“Consider what ways, what companies, what opportunities, what studies, what businesses, what conditions, have at any time given, or do usually give, advantages to your distempers, and set yourself heedfully against them all.” (Page 109)
“Behold, the Lord Christ, that has all fullness of grace in his heart [John 1:16], all fullness of power in his hand [Matt. 28:18], he is able to slay all these his enemies. There is sufficient provision in him for my relief and assistance. He can take my drooping, dying soul and make me more than a conqueror [Rom. 8:37].” (Page 132)
“And this is the first thing that the Spirit does in order to the mortification of any lust whatsoever– it convinces the soul of all the evil of it, cuts off all its pleas, discovers all its deceits, stops all its evasions, answers all its pretenses, makes the soul own its abomination and lie down under the sense of it. Unless this be done all that follows is in vain.” (Page 138)