Archive for the ‘Sin’ Category

“To mortify a sin is not utterly to kill, root it out, and destroy it, that it should have no more hold at all nor residence in our hearts. It is true this is that which is aimed at; but this is not in this life to be accomplished. There is no man that truly sets himself to mortify any sin, but he aims at, intends, desires its utter destruction, that it should leave neither root nor fruit in the heart or life. He would so kill it that it should never move nor stir anymore, cry or call, seduce or tempt, to eternity. Its not-being is the thing aimed at. Now, though doubtless there may, by the Spirit and grace of Christ, a wonderful success and eminence of victory against any sin be attained, so that a man may have almost constant triumph over it, yet an utter killing and destruction of it, that it should not be, is not in this life to be expected.”

~ John Owen

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“To mortify a sin is not utterly to kill, root it out, and destroy it, that it should have no more hold at all nor residence in our hearts. It is true this is that which is aimed at; but this is not in this life to be accomplished. There is no man that truly sets himself to mortify any sin, but he aims at, intends, desires its utter destruction, that it should leave neither root nor fruit in the heart or life. He would so kill it that it should never move nor stir anymore, cry or call, seduce or tempt, to eternity. Its not-being is the thing aimed at. Now, though doubtless there may, by the Spirit and grace of Christ, a wonderful success and eminency of victory against any sin be attained, so that a man may have almost constant triumph over it, yet an utter killing and destruction of it, that it should not be, is not in this life to be expected.”

~John Owen~ Overcoming Sin & Temptation (Wheaton, IL; Crossway; 2006) p. 70-71.

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Oh, to be free from sin!

“Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death?” Romans 7:24

The godly man has a deep sense of the evil of sin.

He looks upon sin as the bitter root, from which springs all the woes and wars, all the sadness and sorrow, all the pains and pollution, all the misery and madness, and all the torment and terror — to be found in God’s universe!

He regards sin as that abominable thing which God hates!

It is to him a loathsome object; and a subject fraught with all that is base, degrading, and horrible. He looks at sin as more dreadful than Hell! Indeed, he considers sin to be the evil of all evils, and considers that nothing is evil in comparison with sin!

He often thinks of sin as it has grieved God’s heart, murdered God’s only begotten Son, and vexed and resisted the Holy Spirit.

O if he could be but free from sin!

“Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be, has not yet been made known. But we know that when He appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is!” 1 John 3:2

~ James Smith

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Ray Ortlund shares four common strategies from the devil’s playbook.

We are not ignorant of his designs.  2 Corinthians 2:11

The Bible reveals to us the devil’s playbook.  How does he aim to defeat us?  To begin with, in these four ways:

One, a judgmental attitude.  In this passage in 2 Corinthians, the devil designs to make a church into a harsh environment, where people are “overwhelmed by excessive sorrow” (verse 7).  Such a church stops feeling like Jesus.  It starts feeling like a scene out of Kafka.  How to defeat this satanic design?  Repent of self-righteous judgments, and eagerly communicate Jesus’ forgiveness, inclusion, honor.

Two, normal human instincts.  In Matthew 16:21-23, Jesus rebukes Peter, through whom Satan is speaking.  How did Peter open up to, of all things, satanic influence?  Not by consciously opening up to satanic influence.  All he did was think in normal human ways (“setting your mind on the things of man”).  All he did was set his heart on survival, making the way of the cross unthinkable.  Another of the devil’s designs.  How to defeat him?  Die to selfish survival.

Three, a spirit of accusation.  In Revelation 12:10 the devil is exposed as “the accuser.”  Another of his designs is to pierce our hearts with accusing thoughts about our sins – or even sins we haven’t necessarily committed, but we fear we have, or others say we have.  He spreads a mist of vague anxiety within ourselves and dark suspicion of others.  How to defeat this defeat?  Run to the cross for all our sins, and refuse to counter-accuse against our accusers.  A calm explanation might help at the interpersonal level.  But if the negative emotions are really intense, the only thing to do is not make the feeding-frenzy worse.  Wait on God to vindicate you.

Four, lying in order to win.  In John 8:44 Jesus calls Satan “the father of lies.”  It is his nature to lie, to deceive, to distort and twist and confuse.  He spreads his trademark behavior to others, especially in scenes of ungodly conflict.  He uses half-truths, self-serving accounts, spin.  How to defeat him?  Admit the plain truth, all of it, however embarrassing it might be.  We won’t die.  We will find it to be freeing.  Our safety and joy are always found in honesty before God and one another.

We have an enemy, and we know his strategies.  As C. S. Lewis taught us in The Screwtape Letters, we should neither ignore him nor obsess about him.  But fixing our eyes on Jesus, we can crush Satan under our feet (Romans 16:20) by humbly staying in, or humbly returning to, the ways of the gospel.

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Joe Thorn:

“As followers of Jesus we are daily confronted with our own corruption. If we are to grow in grace we must soberly, aggressively, and thoroughly address our sin and temptations. But what is the best way to do that? Here are just a few resources that have been helpful to me as I have sought to believe the gospel, fight sin, and resist temptation.

Tempted and Tried: Temptation and the Triumph of Christ, Russell Moore
This is one of the best book on the subject. Seriously worth your time and money.

The Enemy Within: Straight Talk About the Power and Defeat of Sin, Kris Lundgaard
You’re justified and being sanctified, but sin still indwells you. You get that, right? Probably not, but this book will help you understand, and respond in faith. Short, insightful, powerful.

Overcoming Sin and Temptation, John Owen
Owen’s writing on sin and temptation is unmatched. This is a helpful edit of his work. Get it.

Licensed to Kill, Brian G. Hedges
Okay, this isn’t coming out until later this summer, but I have read the manuscript and it is excellent. Pre-order it. While you’re waiting for it to be released read his other book, Christ Formed in You.

The Sinfulness of Sin, Ralph Venning
A puritan classic that will help you see the the ugly reality and danger of sin while pointing you to the hope of the gospel. One of my wife’s favorite books! (That’s an endorsement you can trust!)

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A sobering reminder from Paul Tripp:

There’s loads of knowledge to be found, but wisdom is a rare commodity. Why? Because wisdom is one of sin’s first casualties. It’s hard to admit, but true none the less, that sin reduces all of us to fools. And the fact is that no one is more victimized by your foolishness than you are. You see the empirical evidence of the foolishness of sin on almost every page of Scripture. For example, you see foolishness in full operation in the tragic story of David and Bathsheba. This is why David says, “Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place” (v. 6 NIV).

You read the story of David’s sin, and you say to yourself, “What was he thinking? Did he really believe that he’d get away with that? Did he completely forget who he was? Did he think that God was going to stand idly by and let this happen?” But David is not some extreme case of foolishness gone wild; you see evidence of the same foolishness in each of our lives daily. People could say of us again and again, “What was he thinking? What was she thinking?”

What does foolishness look like? Here are four of its most significant aspects.

Keep reading. . . 

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From the January 2007 edition of Tabletalk via DG

1. Learn to admit sin for what it really is.

Call a spade a spade — call it ‘sexual immorality,’ not ‘I’m being tempted a little’; call it ‘impurity,’ not ‘I’m struggling with my thought life’; call it ‘evil desire, which is idolatry,’ not ‘I think I need to order my priorities a bit better.’

2. See sin for what your sin really is in God’s presence.

‘On account of these the wrath of God is coming’ (Col. 3:6). The masters of the spiritual life spoke of dragging our lusts (kicking and screaming, though they be) to the cross, to a wrath-bearing Christ.

3. Recognize the inconsistency of your sin.

You put off the ‘old man,’ and have put on the ‘new man’ (Col. 3:9–10). You are no longer the ‘old man.’ The identity you had ‘in Adam’ is gone.

4. Put sin to death (Col. 3:5).

It is as ‘simple’ as that. Refuse it, starve it, and reject it. You cannot ‘mortify’ sin without the pain of the kill. There is no other way!

Read the entire article.


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Julie Ganschow writes on “Freedom from Bondage” which practically deals with Romans 6:13 and how to be freed from sin’s bondage.  She begins by relating her story regarding eating disorders, talks about the human story of struggling with sin’s bondage and then concludes with God’s story.  Here’s an excerpt

There is only One who can free us from such bondage. We bring His message of hope and truth to the hurting people surrounding us.

The reality about sin is that the Lord is not going to swoop in and take away all our sinful desires. It is going to take the hard work of a changed heart to bring about the changed life we so deeply desire.

At some point, we are going to have to be willing to knock whatever we worship off the altar. Be forewarned: knocking it down will be painful. We cannot expect to claim it in Jesus’ Name and walk away healed and free; that is foolishness. We have built a system of belief and a system of worship around this thing and it colors and influences how we “do” life.

While there are no “easy steps,” there are biblical principles we each must pursue.

  • We must begin with prayerful determination to no longer be a slave to whatever has us bound (Romans 6).
  • We must enlist the help of those around us and make ourselves accountable to them for change (Galatians 6:1-2).
  • We must learn where our pitfalls are, what sets us off, what makes us run to that old comfortable idol.
  • We must make a plan to run somewhere else—like into the throne room of the Almighty God (Hebrews 4:16). It is there that we will find grace to help in our time of need.

There is a reason that Ephesians 4:22 tells us to throw off our old fleshy selves, our old desires, our old objects of worship. It is because they capture us, enslave us, and they grow more and more powerful in our lives. They corrupt us further and further until we believe we are beyond hope.

But we do not have to go back to the grave. In and through Christ we have been set free!

Read the first part of the article here.

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Three on killing sin

I am preaching on Mark 9:43-48 in part this morning. Here Jesus commands us to deal ruthlessly with sin and dillydally with it.  I found these three articles helpful as I thought about the fight against sin that we must wage until we arrive in heaven!

Jared Moore’s on the armor of God and wartime mentality:

We must wear this armor constantly. We should never take it off. We should wear it to bed as pajamas. We should make sure we’ve got it on first thing in the morning by turning to the gospel as immediately as possible. This is wartime. Don’t take the armor off. You don’t try putting on your seatbelt when you see the Mack truck bearing down on you at 60 mph; you put it on before you pull out of the garage. Likewise, don’t wait for the enemy to show himself before you start suiting up.

You don’t know when the attacks will come; best to sleep with your boots on and your sword by your hand.

Kevin DeYoung on “Make Every Effort”

It is the consistent witness of the New Testament that growth in godliness requires exertion on the part of the Christian. Romans 8:13 says by the Spirit we must put to death the deeds of the flesh. Ephesians 4:22-24 instructs us to put off the old self and put on the new. Ephesians 6 tells us to put on the full armor of God and stand fast against the devil.Colossians 3:5 commands us to put to death what is earthly in us. 1 Timothy 6:12 urges us to fight the good fight. Luke 13:24 exhorts us to strive to enter the narrow gate.

Christians work–they work to kill sin and they work to live in the Spirit. They have rest in the gospel, but never rest in their battle against the flesh and the devil. As J.C. Ryle put it, the child of God has two great marks about him: he is known for his inner warfare and his inner peace.

Obviously, even when we work, it is never meritorious. Our effort can never win God’s justifying favor. In fact, whatever we manage to work out is really what God purposed to work in us (Phil. 2:12-13; cf. Heb. 2:11). The gospel is truly the A-Z of the Christian life.

But let us not misunderstand what it means to be gospel-centered. As gospel Christians, we are not afraid of striving, fighting, and working. These are good Bible words. The gospel that frees us from self-justification also frees us for obedience. In fact, 1 Corinthians 6 and Galatians 5 and 1 John and Revelation 21 and a dozen other passages make clear that when we have no obedience to show for our gospel profession, our conduct shows we have not understood the gospel.

God did not tell the Israelites, “Work hard and I’ll set you free from Egypt.” That’s law without a gospel. Neither did God tell them, “I love you. I set you free by my grace. I ask nothing more except that you believe in this good gift.” That’s gospel with no law. Instead, God redeemed the people by his mercy, and that mercy made a way for obedience. Gospel then law. Trust and obey.

Let us not make the mistake of Keswick theology with its mantra of “let go and let God.” Justification is wholly dependent on faith apart from works of the law. But sanctification–born of faith, dependent on faith, powered by faith–requires moral exertion.  “Mortify and vivify” is how the theologians used to put it.

When it comes to growth in godliness, trusting does not put an end to trying.

Tullian agrees but wants to make sure we are working hard in the right direction.

Sanctification involves God’s attack on our unbelief—our self-centered refusal to believe that God’s approval of us in Christ is full and final. It happens as we daily fight (with blood, sweat, and tears–”making every effort”) to receive and rest in our unconditional justification. As G. C. Berkouwer said, “The heart of sanctification is the life which feeds on justification.” It is in this context that I’ve said before how sanctification is the hard work of getting used to our justification.

Sanctification, as someone once put it, is not something added to justification. It is, rather, the justified life.

Click links above to read entire articles. You won’t be wasting your time.

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A series on killing sin!

The GTY blog is wrapping up a great series on killing sin!


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