Thursday, June 15, 2006

Examining Owen's 'The Mortification of Sin'

I have of late been reading John Owen’s classic The Mortification of Sin. It has been revolutionary for me in my dealings with indwelling sin. The entire book is a meditation on Romans 8:13, which was the text I took for my own sermon on conquering sin. More accurately, it is a meditation on the second half of the verse, which reads, “…but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.”

Owen goes on to say how mortification is to be done through the rest of the book. I have read it from cover to cover, but it is not really solidified in my mind. Since I do not have a good command of the material I have decided to go through each chapter in greater detail, and I will use this blog as a means of organizing my thoughts.

Chapter one is an exposition of the aforementioned verse. He first lays out a motivation to holiness, namely that “if you live according to the flesh you will die”. However, since his focus lies on the second half of the verse he moves on without much further comment.

The different parts of the verse are then divided and examined. He comes up with five parts that will help us grasp what Paul was saying. First, there is a duty prescribed, namely ‘mortify the deeds of the body’. But who should mortify? That is the second part. ‘You’, that is the Christian, should mortify the deeds of the body. Then there is a promise given. “You will live” if you mortify. Fourth, Owen shows that it is the Spirit who is the means of mortification. Only through Him can mortification be done. Finally, the conditionality of the verse is emphasized. “If you mortify…”

Tomorrow I will cover the second half of chapter one in greater detail, and if I am able I will do some work on chapter two as well.

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