Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary

18 Oct 2012

Can I Digest Sin Without Bitterness?


I am reading through John Owen’s Of the Mortification of Sin in Believer’s, Etc in Vol VI of his Works with a brother here in our church. One passage caused me to stop and think of how I view my own sins and to be renewed in fighting them, for, as Owen said, “be killing sin, or it will be killing you” (9).

He says of the “evils which certainly attend every unmortified professor” (and he is not just talking about seminary professors!). I quote parts below from pp. 15-16.

Let him pretend what he will, he hath slight thoughts of sin… The root of an umortified course is the digestion of sin without bitterness in the heart. When a man hath confirmed his imagination to such an apprehension of grace and mercy as to be able, without bitterness, to swallow and digest daily sins, that man is at the very brink of turning the grace of God into lasciviousness, and being hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. Neither is there a greater evidence of a false and rotten heart in the world than to drive such a trade [beware antinomian preachers!]. To use the blood of Christ, which is given to cleanse us (1 Jn 1:7; Tit 2:14); the exaltation of Christ, which is to give us repentance (Acts 5:31); the doctrine of grace, which teaches us to deny all ungodliness (Tit 2:11, 12), to countenance sin, is a rebellion that in the issue will break the bones. At this door have gone out from us most of the professors that have apostatized in the days werein we live.

Lest we see Owen as advocating a morbid, self-lacerating introspection, one of the primary means of mortifying sin is through Spirit-dependence and the cultivation of the fruits of the Spirit, “By causing our hearts to abound in grace and the fruits that are contrary to the flesh, and the fruits thereof and principles of them,” the Spirit is the author and aid of this work of killing sin. May God help us be killing sin!