Quotes from Mortification of Sin

“If this little discourse may be in any way useful to this end to the least of the saints, I will look on this as an answer to the weak prayers with which it is attended by its unworthy author, John Owen, Oxford, 1656.” (From the Preface)

“The choicest believers, who are assuredly freed from the condemning power of sin, should also make it their business all of their days to mortify the indwelling power of sin.” (Pg. 2)

“Our strength in the performance of this duty comes through the Spirit. All other ways of mortification are in vain…It is a work of the Spirit, and it is by him alone that we are to experience victory. Mortification from a self-strength, carried on by ways of self-invention, to the end of a self-righteousness, is the soul and substance of all false religion in the world.” (Pg. 3)

“It is the constant duty of believers to render a death blow to the deeds of the flesh, that they may not have life and strength to bring forth their destructive influence.” (Pg. 4)

“Do you mortify? Do you make it your daily work? You must always be at it while you live; do not take a day off from this work; always be killing sin or it will be killing you.” (Pg. 5)

“Sin is always active when it seems to be the most quiet, and its waters are often deep when they are calm. We should therefore fight against it and be vigorous at all times and in all conditions, even when there is the least suspicion.” (Pg. 7)

“If sin is always acting, we are in trouble if we are not always mortifying.” (Pg. 7)

“The advance of sin keeps the soul from seeing that it is drifting from God…This enables the soul deeper and deeper to sin…Mortification withers the root and strikes at the head of sin ever hour. The best saints in the world are in danger of a fall if found negligent in this important duty!” (Pg. 8)

“If we do not seek daily to mortify sin, we sin against the goodness, kindness, wisdom, grace, and love of God, who has given us the weapons of our warfare.” (Pg. 9)

“In this generation a growing number of professors, a great noise of religion, religious duties in every corner, and preaching in abundance, there is little evidence of the fruit of true mortification. Perhaps we might find that, judging by the principle of mortification, the number of true believers is not as multiplied as it appears from those who have made a mere profession. Some speak and profess a spirituality that far exceeds the former days, but their lives give evidence of a miserable unmortified heart. If vain spending of time, idleness, envy, strife, variance, emulations, wrath, pride, worldliness, selfishness (1 Cor. 1), are the marks of Christians, we have them among us in abundance.” (Pg. 11)

“He who is able to swallow and digest daily sins in his life without conviction in the heart is at the very brink of turning the grace of God into lasciviousness, and being hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” (Pg. 11-12)

“Many are satisfied when they fast so much, pray so much, and keep certain hours and times even if the work of mortification is not done.” (Pg. 16)

“Sin darkens the soul. It is a cloud, a thick cloud, that spreads itself over the face of the soul, and intercepts all the beams of God’s love and favor. It takes away all sense of the privilege of our adoption; and if the soul beings to gather up thoughts of consolation, sin quickly scatters them.” (Pg. 24)

“As men grow older they do not usually persist in the pursuit of youthful lusts, although they have never mortified any one of them. One may leave one lust, so that he may serve another. He that changes pride for worldliness, or sensuality for legalism, does damage to himself and others…He has changed his master, but is a servant still.” (Pg. 29)

“Some may resolve that a particular sin shall never have any place in them and that they will never give themselves over to it form now on. Sin thus is quiet, does not stir, and seems to be mortified. However, it has not received a mortal wound, and has merely been temporarily suppressed. When the fear of trial and affliction ceases to occupy the thoughts, the sin returns to its former life and vigor.” (Pg. 30)

“The reason that the natural man does not always pursue a single lust night and day is because he has so many different lusts to serve. Each one is crying out to be satisfied.” (Pg. 32)

“When a man is nailed to a cross, he at first struggles, strives, and cries out with great strength and might; but as his blood and spirits waste, his strivings are faint and seldom, his cries low and hoarse, and scarce to be heard. So when a man first determines to conquer a lust or sin, and to deal with it in earnest, it struggles with great violence to break loose; it cries with earnestness and impatience to be satisfied and relieved. By mortification, the blood and spirits of it are let out, it moves seldom and faintly, cries sparingly, and is scarce heard in the heart; it may sometimes have a dying pang that makes an appearance of great vigor and strength, but it is quickly over, especially if it is kept form considerable success.” (Pg. 35)

“A man may beat down the bitter fruit from an evil tree until he is weary but while the root of the tree continues to abide in strength and vigor, the beating down of the present fruit will not hinder it from bearing more evil fruit.” (Pg. 35)

“When a man is not very concerned, and sees his lust as a trivial thing, it is an indication that he is not mortified or even heading in that direction.” (Pg. 36)

“It is the duty of preachers to plead with men about their sins, but we must always remember to speak in such a way as to lead them to the discovery of their state and condition Otherwise we may lead men to formality and hypocrisy and not accomplish the true end of preaching the gospel. It will not avail to beat a man off from his drunkenness into a sober formality. we must lay the axe at the root. To deal with sin without the root is like beating an enemy in the open field, and chasing him into an impregnable castle where he cannot be touched. Drive the conviction to the heart, not just particular sins.” (Pg. 47)

“Can sin be truly killed without an interest in the death of Christ, and the work of the Spirit? If such directions should prevail to change men’s lives, as seldom they do, they never will reach to the change of their hearts! They just make men self-justified or hypocrites, and not Christians.” (Pg. 47)

“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 the 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?” (Pg. 50)

“Maybe God has allowed this troubling lust to have power over you to draw your attention to other failures and your lukewarmness in walking before him…Maybe this troubling will lead to…walk fully with God.” (Pg. 51-52)

“A man who only opposes the sin in his heart for fear of shame among men or eternal punishment from God would practice the sin if there were no punishment attending it.” (Pg. 59)

“The fact that God does not cast off such a one, and swear in His wrath that he shall never enter into His rest, can only be ascribed to His infinite patience.” (Pg. 63)

“We, doubtless, are more evil than any if we continue to sin in the light of grace.” (Pg. 67)

“As God sees greater joy in a believer’s graces. He also sees greater evil in the working of their lust and outwards sins than in the open, notorious acts of wicked men.” (Pg. 67)

On being hardened by the deceitfulness of sin…”Can a sadder thing happen to you? Is this not enough to make any heart tremble to think of being in such a state?” (Pg. 69)

“Going on without [peace with God], in reasonable abundance, is to die while we live!” (Pg. 70)

“It is important to consider all God’s gracious dealings with you. His providential blessings, deliverances, mercies, and enjoyments that He has given you. Fill your conscience  with such memories. Do not leave these meditations until your heart is strongly influenced with the guilt of indwelling corruption. Continue with such meditations until you feel the wound of your corruptions in your conscience and you seek to lie in the dust before the Lord. Unless you can get your conscience into such a state, you will not be able to gain the victory. As long as your conscience is able to justify your failure, your soul will never vigorously attempt the mortification of sin.” (Pg. 81)

“Do not let your heart be happy with your present condition, even for a moment.” (Pg. 81)

“The desire, longing, and panting after deliverance is in itself a grace which begins to conform the soul to the likeness of that which is longed for.” (Pg. 81)

“Be assured, unless you long for deliverance you will not find it.” (Pg. 82)

“A strong desire is the life-blood of praying without ceasing! A strong desire sets faith and hope to work.” (Pg. 82)

“David considered his being formed in sin (Psalm 51:5) as a further aggravation of his transgression, and not a lessening of it. If you are particularly inclined to any particular sinful action, it is but the breaking out of original lust in your nature, and this should humble you.” (Pg. 83)

“Fasting and watching and the like should not be looked upon as things which in themselves have the ability to produce true mortification. If they were able to do this, sin might be mortified without any help of the Spirit by any unregenerate person in the world. These disciplines are to be looked upon only as means by which the Spirit may, and sometimes does, put forth strength for the accomplishing of His own work.” (Pg. 84)

“If we dare to dally with the occasions of sin, we will dare to sin. He that will venture on the temptation to wickedness will venture on wickedness itself.” (Pg. 85)

“Rise mightily against the first sign of sin. Do not allow it to gain the smallest ground…If you allow it one step, it will take another.” (Pg. 85)

“Meditate upon the excellence and the majesty of God and our infinite, inconceivable distance from him. These meditations will fill us with our own vileness and strike deep at the root of our indwelling sin.” (Pg. 87)

“Consider often how unacquainted you really are with God. Certainly you know enough to keep you low and humble, but how little we really know of him!” (Pg. 88)

“Seek to keep you heart in a continual awe of the majesty of God.” (Pg. 89)

“We realize that we know so little when our best thoughts of God are, ‘We cannot know.'” (Pg. 94)

“We are more perfect in our understanding when we realize that we cannot understand, and rest there.” (Pg. 94)

“Look upon Him under the weight of our sins, praying, bleeding, and dying. Bring Him in that condition into your heart, by faith. Apply His blood so shed to your corruptions. Do this daily.” (Pg. 128)

“If the preaching of the Word joined with the reasonings of man were capable of bringing the conviction of sin, we would see much more conviction than we do.” (Pg. 128)


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