I have been reading John Owen's The Mortification of Sin lately. It is very quickly becoming one of the best books I have ever read. My top three right now are the Bible, John Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress, and then Owen's book.
I am almost done with the book. It has cut me to the heart and slain me deeply. I have struggled with assurance of salvation for many years. Now I am convinced that I am either not a believer, or, if I am, that I am a most miserable believer. I highly recommend especially chapters 8 and 9.
My wifey took a quote from Owen and posted it on her blog about how God requires nothing less than universal obedience. When I read this quote in my car, tears came. As I read it to my wife one evening, it was difficult to read without crying. God blessed Owen with so much wisdom. I felt like I have come to one of the best doctors for my soul.
I too would like to place that quote here on my blog for my readers to consider. May our Lord bring us into true spiritual mortification!
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 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? Because it troubles you and takes away your peace, and fills your heart with sorrow, trouble, and fear, and because you do not have rest through it? Yes, but, friend, you have neglected prayer and reading! You have been vain and loose in your conversation with other things. These are just as sinful as the one that troubles you. Jesus Christ bled for them also. Why do you not set yourself against them? If you hate sin as sin, and every evil way, you would be watchful against everything that grieves and disquiets the Spirit of God. You would not be concerned only about the sin that upsets your own soul! It is evident that you fight against this sin merely because it troubles you. If it did not bother your conscience you would let it alone. If it did not bother you, you would not bother it. Do you think God will help you in such a hypocritical effort? Do you think that the Holy Spirit will help in the treachery and falsehood of your own spirit? Do you think He will free you from this so you are free to go and commit another sin which grieves Him?
‘No’, says God, ‘if I free him from this lust, I will not hear from him anymore, and he will be content in his failure.’ We must not be concerned only with that which troubles us, but with all that troubles God. God’s work is to have full victory, and universal obedience, not just the victory over the sins that trouble our soul.
‘Let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God’ (2 Cor. 7:1). If we will do anything, we must do everything. So, then, our need is not only an intense opposition to this or that particular lust, but a universal humble frame and temper of heart that watches over every evil, and seeks the performance of every duty that is pleasing to God.
John Owen, The Mortification of Sin, 50-51 (Banner of Truth)