Pursuing Purity Pt.2 – Mortal Foes

11 01 2007

‘Do you mortify; do you make it your daily work; be always at it whilst you live; cease not a day from this work; be killing sin or it will be killing you’

For a long time John Owen scared the wits out of me. Anyone who spoke of his writings characterised them as beneficial, but difficult and dry – a little like Rivita!! On the contrary, in ‘The Mortification of Sin’ I’ve found Owen to be a pastoral companion full of practical godliness and counsel, and this has opened his writings up to me. For me he defines the term ‘living truth’ in that his exposition is thorough and microscopic, but his application is active, vibrant and authentic.

Today’s quote from ‘Mortification’ sheds further light on our continual war with sin. If self-examination and mortification are the duty of every true believer, then they ought to also be the duty of every single day. If we are not killing sin, then we are inviting it to kill us, to smother and choke, to defy and defeat us. For Owen mortification is a 24/7 activity, something which literally spells life or death for us in our Christian walk.

My mind goes back to a sequence from the beginning of Spielberg’s ‘Saving Private Ryan’. The horrific scene of soldiers being decimated by machine gun fire as they make their beach landings is punctuated by little cameos of individuals soldiers. One such interlude shows a soldier putting his head above a parapet to inspect what is happening on the rest of the beach. At that moment a bullet passes through his helmet, narrowly missing his skull. He turns to a comrade, says ‘That was close’ and is then promptly killed by another bullet to the head – this one finding its mark.

Continual vigilence, repeated intolerance of every sinful impulse, is what is needed. As Christians we are locked in a mortal struggle with a foe who will not sleep. How I need to always ‘be killing sin’, for it is set on destroying me.

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