Sunday, January 3, 2010

The Character of Mortification

Mortification, or reckoning ourselves dead to sin, is a topic that I need to learn more about. Jerry Bridges address the topic in The Pursuit of Holiness in a very helpful manner. This topic was clearly one of significance to the Puritans, and in particular, one of John Owen's focuses. The following quotes are taken from Triumph Over Temptation (Houston, John M. Triumph Over Temptation. Colorado Springs: Victor, 2005) which is a compiling of three John Owen works.

"Because they remain unacquainted with the mystery of the gospel and the efficacy of the death of Christ, they impose unnecessary yokes upon their disciples. Their view of mortification is unrelated to the nature of the gospel and not subject to its means and effects. This results in superstition, self-righteousness, and anxiety of conscience in those who submit to these false forms of discipline." (191)

"Even the choicest saints who seek to remain free from the condemning power of sin need to make it their business, as long as they live, to mortify the indwelling power of sin." (192)

"Mortification is only accomplished "through the Spirit."...Mortification based on human strength, carried out with man-made schemes, always ends in self-righteousness. This is the essence and substance of all false religion in the world." (193)

"To mortify is literally to put to death. "If you put to death," argues the apostle, "you kill." Indwelling sin in the believer is the old man who must be killed, with all his faculties, properties, wisdom, craft, subtlety, and strength. Its power, life, vigor, and strength must be destroyed and slain by the cross of Christ. The old man must be "crucified with Christ" (Rom. 6:6), if we would experience regeneration (see Rom. 6:3-5). But this whole work is gradual and requires all the days of our life for its accomplishment. God has designed this mortification of the indwelling sin that remains in our mortal bodies in order to eliminate the life and power of our flesh." (194)

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