Brance Gillihan

Missionary, Servant, Learner

Brance Gillihan - Missionary, Servant, Learner

3 Key strategies for victory in the fight against sin

If you want lasting victory in the fight against sin, then here are three pivotal things you must know and do. These come from chapter 6 of John Owen’s wonderful book The Mortification of Sin.

1. Really know and believe that sin is your enemy

To know that a man hath such an enemy to deal with, to take notice of it, to consider it as an enemy indeed, and one that is to be destroyed by all means possible, is required hereunto.

fight against sinAs Owen points out, this is a war. War is not pretty. It is vicious, brutal even, there is real danger, and the enemy fights back with strategy and vigour.

We can’t expect victory over sin if we don’t take the fight seriously. Sin is our enemy. We must know it as such. We cannot act indifferent to sin. We must not shrug off sin when it happens, as if it is no big deal. This is important, with eternal consequences!

If you were at war with a physical enemy, and he was plotting against you, and shooting at you, you’d take him seriously. Well, sin is plotting against you and shooting at you.  Continue reading

A fruitless beat down

“A man may beat down the bitter fruit from an evil tree, until he is weary; whilst the root abides in strength and vigour, the beating down of the present fruit will not hinder it from bringing forth more. This is the folly of some men. They set themselves with all earnestness and diligence against the appearing eruption of lust; but leaving the principle and root untouched, perhaps unsearched out, they make but little or no progress in this work of mortification.” [John Owen, The Mortification of Sin, p.65]

Do it on purpose, not by accident

“Introductions, conclusions, and transitions cannot be avoided. Regardless of our intentions or abilities our sermons will have introductions, conclusions, and transitions. The first words you say introduce your message, the last words you say conclude it, and the material that ties these two events together inevitably contains transitions.” [Bryan Chapell, Christ-Centered Preaching, p.228]

A safer path to hell

“It [mortification] is not the dissimulation of a sin. When a man, on some outward respects, forsakes the practice of any sin, men perhaps may look on him as a changed man; God knows that to his former iniquity he hath added cursed hypocrisy, and is got into a safer path to hell than he was in before. He hath got another heart than he had, that is more cunning: not a new heart, that is more holy.” [John Owen, The Mortification of Sin, p.55]

True mortification vs an obscuring and ineffective dust-up

“Men are galled with the guilt of a sin that hath prevailed over them; they instantly promise to themselves and God that they will do so no more; they watch over themselves and pray for a season, until this heat waxes cold and the sense of sin is worn off; and so mortification goes also, and sin returns to its former dominion.” [John Owen, The Mortification of Sin, p.42]

Then several pages later,

“And indeed, I might here bewail the endless foolish labour of poor souls who, being convinced of sin and not able to stand against the power of their convictions, do set themselves by innumerable perplexing ways and duties to keep down sin: but, being strangers to the Spirit of God, all in vain. They combat without victory, have war without peace, and are in slavery all their days. They spend their strength for that which is not bread, and their labour for that which profiteth not.

This is the saddest warfare that any poor creature can be engaged in…The law drives them on, and sin beats them back. Sometimes they think indeed that they have foiled sin, when they have only raised a dust so that they see it not…” [John Owen, The Mortification of Sin, p.45]

What a sad state of affairs! I for one, have definitely been there and done that! He’s right, it doesn’t work. You only raise a cloud of dust by your efforts to defeat sin, and that dust-up serves only to obscure the sin, which you have left untouched.

By the Spirit

There is a better way, Continue reading

Do Your Duty

“The intention of the apostle in this prescription of the duty mentioned, is, that the mortification of indwelling sin, remaining in our mortal bodies, in order that it may not have life and power to bring forth the works or deeds of the flesh, is the constant duty of believers.” [John Owen, The Mortification of Sin, p.24]

Indwelling Not Possession

“What I seemed to be hearing, however, was a call to deny personal self, so that I could be taken over by Jesus Christ in such a way that my present experience of thinking and willing would become something different, an experience of Christ Himself living in me, animating me and doing the thinking and willing for me. Put like that, it sounds more like the formula of demon-possession than the ministry of the indwelling Christ according to the New Testament.” [John Stott, the introduction to The Mortification of Sin by John Owen, p.9]