I am currently reading John Owen’s On the Mortification of Sin in Believers with our staff here at 3BC. We’ve been at it a few weeks now and, already, there is much that has challenged and encouraged me at the same time. Owens, a 17th century theologian, church leader, and teacher, was considered a Nonconformist in his day. Simply put, he is a Puritan, a title placed on him by virtue of his religious beliefs and activity in church life in England.
So far, Owens has made it clear that, though we are forgiven, there is still sin that remains in us. Sin not only remains in us, but it is still acting out in our hearts. Because of that, and out of our obedience and desire to glorify God, we must work daily to mortify sin. We must kill it. Owens states,
Do you mortify;
do you make it your daily work;
be always at it while you live;
cease not a day from this work;
be killing sin or it will be killing you.
Wow. Be killing sin or it will be killing you.
That’s a hard task. There is one who is constantly raising up this sin in our lives. Yet, because of Christ’s death, and the power of the Spirit, we can overcome his temptation and the sin in our lives. With God’s help, and because of his mercy, we can mortify it.
The Apostle Paul has a response to this. In his letter to the Romans, he says,
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:1-2 ESV
In Paul’s writing throughout the New Testament, worship is described as service for the glory of God. The Romans passage above reinforces that – “a living sacrifice”. David Peterson, in his book Engaging with God: a Biblical Theology of Worship, states that “Justification by faith opens up the possibility of serving God in a new way, in the power of the Holy Spirit.” He goes on to say that
God’s mercies, supremely expressed in the saving work of Christ, the gift of his Spirit, his perseverance with faithless Israel and his gracious offer of salvation to the Gentiles, call forth the response of grateful obedience…
Grateful obedience and living sacrificially are both worship. Grateful obedience and sacrificial living are also both the mortification of sin.
Let us kill our sin so that we can live daily in worshipping God, grateful for the mercies we receive through Jesus Christ, his So.